By: Rebecca S. Jones
Genuine, classy, down-to-earth and a loving spirit all accompany the illustrious, Mrs. Kathy Blueford-Daniels. Not being one born with a silver spoon in her mouth, she remains thankful and appreciative of her humble beginnings in the Fifth Ward segment of the city; a neighborhood which once held the center of the Creole community in Houston.
Her birthright entitles her as the third child birthed to Mrs. Esther Jean Sheffield Ballard, out of five sons and four daughters. Mrs. Kathy Blueford-Daniels expressed that, she is blessed to have her mother who lives directly across the street from her. She acknowledged her mom who was a single mother that, “worked many different jobs to take care of us and we will never understand, ALL the sacrifices she made.” Though she was not raised with a father, she reverences her great-grandfather who was the head of the family, Solomon Sheffield. She explained how he was a carpenter and built the very house (Depicted above) where her mother still lives today and also where she and her siblings were reared. Her great-grandfather instilled in her that, “your name is your bond” and “not to embarrass the Sheffield name”. She was also privileged to learn from her mother’s grandfather, who was originally from Jeanerette, LA. Affectionately known as Papa Richard (derived from the family’s last name), he owned the only ‘Black’ soda company business called “Your City Soda”. The company was located on Lyons Avenue in the 1930’s. Her great aunt, Dorothy Richard Williams is the only remaining child that still works there today, and is also the person that Daniels relies on to inform her of her family history.
As a lad, young Kathy was a student of the public school system in Houston. During an interview she reminisced back on a real life experience that taught her to never sit on her dreams and desires. When she was in the tenth grade at Phillis Wheatley High School, she had a desire to become a cheerleader. After trying out for the cheerleading team and making it she realized that there were expenses associated with maintaining such a position. Expenses that her single mother raising nine children could not afford. Being made aware of the cost of a uniform that she needed, she begin to make her resources work for her. Thankful that her mother insisted taking up sewing as an elective previously, Kathy did whatever little jobs in the community that she could find to save up enough to purchase the fabric to make her uniform. Once she had reached her goal, she stayed up all night sewing the uniform. With hard work and dedication throughout the night, she completed the uniform just in time to make her performance the next day. This is one experience that she revealed she will never forget and it taught her a lot about endurance and self-motivation. After graduating from Phillis Wheatley High School, she pursued Nursing at Houston Community College and studied Accounting/Bookkeeping at Massey Business College.
During this era, another life-learning experience presented itself. At the age of 23, while she was at her mother’s home she received news regarding a confrontation around the corner. Once she made her way to where all of the commotion was, she realized that a local resident had a gun. At an attempt to diffuse the situation, she took the gun away from him and put it in her car before any harm could be done. Immediately afterwards, the police arrived. Walking back to her car she remembered hearing someone say, “Halt”, but she had no idea that they could have been talking to her. So she continued walking, after the second time when she heard, “Halt” again; she turned around to a gun pointed in her direction. Needless to say, she was arrested and taken into custody. Once there, she was offered a year of probation. Conscious of her employment at the time and not willing to become a victim of the system, she refused to take probation or anything of the sort. She hired an attorney and the case was dismissed. However, she has always left the incident on her record because she wants people of her community to know that circumstances like these arise often and you must fight for yourself and for what is right.
Continuing, while she was attending Nursing School, she began employment with the United States Postal Service. During her 28-year career with the postal service, she was quickly promoted to Supervisor and served in numerous managerial positions, including: Transportation Specialist, Automation Specialist, Emergency Response Team, HAZ MAT Team and Operation Support Specialist before retiring in 2008. Since that time and even before she has remained at the fore-front of the media, vocalizing about the many ills and injustices imposed upon minority communities and neighborhoods.
Being made a victim herself at the expense of losing her one and only son, Patrick Murphy, Daniels understands what it is like to endure the harsh realities of Black on Black crime. Her 20-year-old son was gunned down by mistaken identity, in the parking lot of the A-Mart, located in the 7100 block of Parker Street in July of 2006. Blueford-Daniels spoke on how she was grief-stricken and heart-wounded after having received no ‘real justice’ for her son; who had previously shown great signs of potential, before his life was so carelessly taken away from him. He had planned to attend college and become a professional dancer.
However, while grief has the tendency to weaken some, it had an adverse affect on Blueford-Daniels. For the unfortunate and untimely demise of her one and only son ignited a spark within her to be a voice of advocacy for herself and others like her. Accordingly, she formed a support group, BLACKMoM (Black, Latino, Asian, Caucasian ~ Mourners of Murder). Through this group, Blueford-Daniels, addresses the needs of youth within the city, stresses emphasis on the importance of education, reveals the consequences of negative choices and provides relief and support to victims who are ‘mourners of murder’. She also made a decision to sue the store where her son was murdered. Since the filing of her claim, the store has made improvements: large lights have been installed to the top of the building and surveillance cameras are now in the parking lot. As it relates to this incident, City Attorney Nirja Aiver stated that, “If you own property you’re responsible for the criminal activity on the property; the goal of the statute and of the city is to make the properties safer.” Although too little too late for Daniels, her hopes in pursuing a suit with the store is that, no other parent will have to experience the burdensome task that she has had to endure. “Patrick is gone, but I’m fighting for my children and the children in this neighborhood,” Daniels added.
In addition to being the founder of BLACKMoM, she also organized “Young Soldiers Marching for Christ” a group entailing, youth and young adult drill teams, marching in Scenic Woods, to ostracize violence, while demonstrating discipline, group dynamics and positive engagement. She further assisted with organizing the, “Stop the Violence Campaign”, which also targets youth and young adults. Overall, Blueford-Daniels has proven to one that, “understands the needs of the people and community. She is committed to education, job training, senior’s concerns for safety and empowerment of our youth by, “reaching one and teaching one”.
Throughout the years, she has leant her time and energy into assisting with various causes. She was instrumental in helping to collect over 3,500 signatures for the, AGAINST the Right to Feed Ordinance. This was during a time when, the Houston City Council passed a law that would make it a crime to distribute food to five or more people on public property without prior permission to do so. Anyone found guilty of doing so would be subject to a $500 fine. Deeming that this law would make it difficult for individuals and groups to exhibit charitable efforts, Blueford-Daniels felt that it was of a necessity to take a stand and so she did. She also voiced her concern regarding the Humble Healthcare facility care of patients. During that dispensation, there were, “reports of a major backlog of investigations at the agency that regulates nursing homes in the state of Texas and it stirred up anger and outrage among some families with loved ones in the care of assisted living facilities.” Once, being the primary caregiver of her ailing brother, Edward Ballard (now deceased) who was a stroke victim and amputee. She once again took a stance to allow her voice to be heard. KHOU-TV recorded her statements in reference to this situation as follows: “I’m angry because we pay a lot of money as tax payers,” as she alleged the neglect and abuse that her brother had suffered. “I did not expect to see him saturated in urine. I did not expect to see him wearing a cloth diaper for hours on end,” Daniels said during that interview.
Mrs. Blueford-Daniels also spoke of her commitment to the community that she has been a part of since birth. “As a lifelong resident still living in the community, I realize that we remain stagnant while other neighborhoods thrive with better roads, grocery stores, business development, and affordable housing”. She went on to explain, “I have a strong desire to do something about the lack of attention that my communities and others like it receive, this is not something that I have just taken an interest in, but I have always had this passion.” “I also want the community to rise up, vote and try to make a difference legally, because together, We can!”
Furthermore, Blueford-Daniels expressed that while she does not possess any fancy degrees, she has been a hard worker her entire life. Life experiences and a close exposure to many leaders and authority figures has taught her things that cannot be taught at a college or university. Sharing knowledge and information to those who do not know, having a genuine love and compassion for her fellowman and not sitting silent about things that matter most are among; a few of the lessons that Daniels has remained adamant about demonstrating. As exemplified in her motto, “Our lives begin to end when we become silent about those things that matter.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
During an interview, Mrs. Kathy Blueford-Daniels stated that, “I have always enjoyed sitting at the feet of my elders to learn about history and the struggles that were/are endured, to be where we are today.” Thus, she reflected back on a conversation that she had with Mrs. Ruby Mosley, a small in stature but largely respected Houston legend; who has been very instrumental in securing many resources for the minority communities in and around Houston. “I sat and talked one day with Mrs. Ruby Mosley, and one of the many things that stick in my mind from our conversation is when we talked about what the dash (that Mr. Roy Douglas Malonson spoke of at one of his Monthly Networking Luncheon’s) represents in our lives.” She continued, “she brought up a gospel song that I first heard sung by Mahalia Jackson and the words are; “If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain…” Blueford-Daniels informed that, this is among one of her ultimate mission’s, to live a life that is full and pleasing just so that she can help anyone that she can.
Recently Blueford-Daniels passed the Texas Real Estate exam and completed the Houston Citizens Police Academy. Among other entitlements are the fact that she is a: Precinct Judge #201, committee member of Senate District 13, an active member of the NAACP, Houston Chapter, Houston Black American Democrats, NorthEast Concerned Citizens’ Civic League, 5th Ward Super Neighborhood #55, Deputy Voter Registrar and member of the Acres Homes Chamber for Business and Economic Development.
Concluding, above all that Blueford-Daniels has seen and experienced, she remains vigilant and steadfast in her faith. She is a very active member of Greater True Vine Baptist Church located in the heart of the historical Fifth Ward community; under the superb leadership of, Puritan District Moderator, Dr. Matthew R. Alix, Sr. Her stewardship is in the GTV Choir, Education Council and she also serves as, President of the Pastor’s Aid Committee.
She is married to Mr. Joe E. Daniels and they have two daughters: Alondria Blueford-Henderson, Jonitra Daniels and five grandchildren: Ellis Kelly, III, Simone,Kaydence,Kennedie & Cameron.