Featured

We Are Marching (Siyahamba)

Celebrating XiXiZeta’s annual Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Finer Womanhood Celebration at St. Paul AME Church, Lithonia, GA

Zulu protest song sung by the St. Paul AME Choir.
Siyahamb’ ekukhanyen’ kwenkhos’,Siyahamb’ ekukhanyen’ kwenkhos’,Siyahamb’ ekukhanyen’ kwenkhos’ … We are marching in the light of God,We are marching in the light of God,We are marching in the light of God (see full texts below)

On the 3rd Sunday morning in February 2021, when members of my sorority gathered for our annual “Finer Womanhood” worship service, special African American history lessons were delivered in song and sermon. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., XiXiZeta Chapter members, among the congregants in virtual settings and socially distanced vehicles, received valuable tips on life’s “chain breaking.”

Herods want to stop the movement … Break the Chain, said Pastor Crawford.

When the Dr. (Medical) Rev. Marvin L. Crawford was a child, his grandmother would tell him a story about her father Joshua (pronounced Josh-u-ay) who was a slave in 1863 when the word was passed around that slaves are being set free.

The day after that announcement, Joshua was said to get up on a table and dance to the tune of a fiddler. When the year was coming to an end and New Year’s Eve arrived, gatherings of slaves “watched all night long” and at about 12:01 a.m., Pastor Crawford’s grandmother told him that the people shouted for they knew the Emancipation Proclamation would set them free from the chains of the enslaved.

“Let the chains fall off,” extoled Pastor Crawford, pastor, preacher and physician from atop his outdoors perch with the south DeKalb County (Ga) community landscape in the background.

This Sunday morning, I am visiting one of my favorite churches, greatest congregations and perhaps the hardest and smartest-working pastor in the metro Atlanta area. An Associate Professor, The Morehouse School of Medicine, who directs 3rd and 4th year students during their training at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, also ensures that his church operates a food pantry and serves the community in countless ways.

“Street” preaching

As vehicles traveled by and the cold day’s sunshine broke through, Pastor Crawford told the virtual and in-car congregants that they must be like the ancestors and Peter, whose story of jail bondage by King Herod is found in Acts 12. Peter was imprisoned by the King, who was a Jewish man, because Peter was a Christian.

“The Herods of our do the same thing” as King Herod, said Pastor Crawford. The persecution that Peter and other Christians received by the King was similar to voter suppression, quieting of voices of women, Blacks and others. It is found in the proposed laws to restrict absentee voting. The Herod affect is evidenced in the deaths of civil rights leaders, George Floyd and Ahmad Aubrey, Pastor Crawford asserted.

The goal of the chains is to “destroy movements … make voting hard and close the doors on you,” preached. Yet, watch, fight and pray.”

Peter’s prayers and those of his church members gathered at John Mark’s mother, Mary’s home,” freed Peter. The Bible reveals that angels appeared while he was asleep and removed the chains. They asked people to put on his own clothes and sandals, arise and walk out of the prison with them guarding him on each side. The prison guards did not touch him, the prison gate opened and he walked humbly and triumphantly to the place where the “saints” gathered in prayer.

Be like Peter and do not become jealous or revengeful for “that is not as God has made you. Those are not your clothes. Those are someone else’s clothes. Pull off the prison clothes ….”put on your own clothes and live,” Pastor Crawford emphasized.

He gave examples of what keeps individuals chained in their inward prisons, bondage-like.

Chains

  • Owning big houses to ‘keep up with the Joneses’
  • Complacency
  • Big houses
  • Unsafe relationships
  • Jealousy
  • Unfaithfulness
  • Fear of being fired from jobs
  • Oppressing others

How fitting that the song written and composed some 70 years ago, was sung at the start of the worship service. The Zulu folk song, Siyahamba, composed by   Andries Van Tonder, is a popular song that I learned as a child in the United Methodist Church. It is considered a protest song and a song of hope. https://www.academia.edu/30914382/Siyahamba_a_well_known_South_African_song_with_a_little_known_pa

 Zulu text

Siyahamb’ ekukhanyen’ kwenkhos’,
Siyahamb’ ekukhanyen’ kwenkhos’,
Siyahamb’ ekukhanyen’ kwenkhos’,
Siyahamb’ ekukhanyen’ kwen-,
Khanyen’ kwenkhos’,
Siyahamba, hamba,
Siyahamba, hamba,
Siyahamb’ ekukhanyen’ kwen-,
Khanyen’ kwenkhos’.
Siyahamba, hamba,
Siyahamba, hamba,
Siyahamb’ ekukhanyen’ kwenkhos’

Acts 12:6-15

 English translation

We are marching in the light of God,
We are marching in the light of God,
We are marching in the light of God,
We are marching in the light of,
The light of God,
We are marching, marching,
We are marching, marching,
We are marching in the light of,
The light of God,
We are marching, marching,
We are marching, marching,
We are marching in the light of God.

Featured

Good research publications for African American genealogy


Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Photo by Amina Filkins on Pexels.com

One of my favorite government sources for genealogy research is the Library of Congress. The listing of library media is dated, to be sure. However, the information about our ancestors is relevant.

“The following publications include several pictures from our files and can thus be of help in locating images. Please note that only pictures credited specifically to the Library of Congress can be ordered from us. In requesting copies of these pictures, we suggest that you send a xerox of the image as well as a complete citation for the book from which it was taken (including page number).” – Library of Congress


Let’s get started

The African-American Mosaic: A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History and Culture. Edited by Debra Newman Ham. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1993.
[LC call number: Z1361.N39L47 1993 P&P Afr-Amer]

Boime, Albert. The Art of Exclusion: Representing Blacks in the Nineteenth Century. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989. [LC call number: N8232.B57 1989 P&P Afr-Amer]

Campbell, Edward D.C. Before Freedom Came: African-American Life in the Antebellum South: To Accompany an Exhibition Organized by the Museum of the Confederacy. Richmond: The Museum of the Confederacy; Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991. [LC call number: E443.B44 1991 P&P Afr- Amer]

Cashman, Sean Dennis. African-Americans and the Quest for Civil Rights, 1900-1990. New York: New York University Press, 1991. [LC call number: E185.61.C292 1991 P&P Afr-Amer]

Christopher, Maurine. Black Americans in Congress. Revised ed. New York: T.Y. Crowell, 1976. [LC call number: E185.96.C5 1976]

Creative Fire. By the editors of Time-Life Books. (African Americans, Voices of Triumph). Alexandria, Va.: Time-Life Books, 1994. [LC call number: NX512.3.A35.A37 1994 P&P Afr-Amer]

Crew, Spencer R. Field to Factory: Afro-American Migration, 1915- 1940. Washington, D.C.: Dept. of Public Programs, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, 1987.
[LC call number: E185.6.C92 1987 P&P Afr- Amer]

Dornfeld, Margaret. The Turning Tide: From the Desegregation of the Armed Forces to the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1948-1956). New York and Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1995. [LC call number: E185.615.D654 1995 P&P Afr-Amer]

Dumond, Dwight Lowell. Antislavery: The Crusade for Freedom in America. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1961. [LC call number: E441.D84 P&P Afr-Amer]

Ebony Pictorial History of Black America. 4 vols. Chicago: Johnson Pub., 1971- . [LC call number: E185.E23 P&P Afr-Amer]

Harley, Sharon. The Timetables of African-American History: A Chronology of the Most Important People and Events in African-American History. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995. [LC call number: E185.H295 1995 P&P Afr-Amer]

Horton, James Oliver and Lois E. Horton, eds. A History of the African American People: The History, Traditions & Culture of African Americans. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1997. [LC call number: E185.H56 1997 P&P Afr-Amer]

Hughes, Langston, Milton Meltzer, and C. Eric Lincoln. A Pictorial History of Blackamericans. 4th rev. ed. of A Pictorial History of the Negro in America. New York: Crown Publishers, [1973]. [LC call number: E185.H83 1973 P&P Afr-Amer] (Many of the same images also published in: African American History: Four Centuries of Black Life. New York: Scholastic, 1990.) [LC call number: E185.H83 1990 P&P Afr- Amer]

Kaplan, Sidney. The Black Presence in the Era of the American Revolution, 1770-1800. Washington, D.C.: National Portrait Gallery, 1973. [LC call number: E185.96.K36 1973 P&P Afr-Amer]

Leadership. By the editors of Time-Life Books. (African Americans, Voices of Triumph). Alexandria, Va.: Time-Life Books, 1993. [LC call number: E185.A2585 1994 P&P Afr-Amer]

Low, W. Augustus, ed. Encyclopedia of Black America. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1981. [LC call number: E185.E55]

Lucas, Eileen. Civil Rights: The Long Struggle. Springfield, N.J.: Enslow Publishers, Inc., 1996. [LC call number: JC599.U5L78 1996 P&P Afr-Amer]

Natanson, Nicholas. The Black Image in the New Deal: the Politics of FSA Photography. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992. [LC call number: E185.6.N245 1992 P&P Afr-Amer]

Pederson, Jay P. and Kenneth Estell, eds. African American Almanac. [Detroit]: U X L, 1994. 3 vols. [LC call number: E185.A2515 1994 P&P Afr-Amer]

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Newman, Gerald and Eleanor Newman Layfield. Racism: Divided by Color. Springfield, N.J.: Enslow Publishers, Inc., 1995. [LC call number: HT1521.N47 1995 P&P Afr-Amer]

Patterson, Charles. The Civil Rights Movement. New York: Facts on File, 1995. [LC call number: E185.61.P32 1995 P&P Afr-Amer]

Perseverance. By the editors of Time-Life Books. (African Americans, Voices of Triumph). Alexandria, Va.: Time-Life Books, 1993. [LC call number: E185.A259 1993 P&P Afr-Amer]

Some Time Ago: A Historical Portrait of Black Americans from 1850-1950. Selected by Chester Higgins; text by Orde Coombs. Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1980.
[LC call number: E185.S593 1980 P&P Afr- Amer]

Smith, C. Carter, ed. The Black Experience. (American historical images on file). New York: Facts on File, 1990. [LC call number: E185.B573 1990 P&P Afr- Amer]

Smith, Edward D. Climbing Jacob’s Ladder: The Rise of Black Churches in Eastern American Cities, 1740- 1877. Washington, D.C.: Published for the Anacostia Museum of the Smithsonian Institution by the Smithsonian Instituion Press, 1988. [LC call number: BR563.N4S573 1988 P&P Afr-Amer]

Vlach, John Michael. Back of the Big House: The Architecture of Plantation Slavery. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993. [LC call number: E443.V58 1993 P&P Afr-Amer]

Wright, Richard. 12 Million Black Voices. New York: Viking Press, 1941. [LC call number: E185.6.W9 P&P Ref]

Year’s Pictorial History of the American Negro. Maplewood, N.J.: C.S. Hammond & Company, 1965. [LC call number: E185.Y4 P&P]

Yetman, Norman R. Life Under the “Peculiar Institution”: Selections from the Slave Narrative Collection. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1970. [LC call number: E444.Y4 P&P Afr- Amer]

The Young Oxford history of African Americans. New York : Oxford University Press, 1995-1997. 11 vols. [LC call number: E185.Y68 1995 P&P – Afr-Amer]

Online Exhibits

Several Library of Congress exhibitions have drawn on Prints and Photographs holdings relating to African American history. Recent exhibitions include an “object list” that cites reproduction numbers needed for ordering photographic copies of materials through the Library of Congress Duplication Services:

How To Order Photographic Reproductions

Reproductions may be ordered through the Library of Congress Duplication Services when adequate identifying information (a reproduction number or, if none exists, the call number of the original) is provided. Requests for identifying information should be addressed to: Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540-4730. Such requests are subject to the fifteen item search limit mentioned above.


Prepared by: Barbara Orbach Natanson, Reference Specialist, August, 1 998. Last revised: March 2001.
Featured

Strength through past struggles

The times get tough. I know. Each of those times, however, I pull from the strength of my ancestors who lived, worked and sadly, feared for their families and their lives while enslaved and in the Reconstruction era through Jim Crow.

Join us for a tax deductible, exciting and basic steps to genealogy workshops beginning February 13, 2021.

Sankofa Family and Genealogy Workshop. Limited spaces. Click link to register TODAY! https://hillside.ticketspice.com/familygenealogy

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Gems from Gems


A few jewelry pieces gifted to me from my maternal grandmother, Helen “Mama Helen” Wilkes Owen Douthy.

Mama Helen, my maternal grandmother, had the most extensive jewelry collection with pieces from the 1920s – 1960s https://hobbylark.com/collecting/antique-jewelry3 that remain rare finds.

She offered a story behind just about every piece of jewelry. It is why I am to piece together so many connecting points in her life and that of our family. Her pearl necklaces from Asia, Native American pieces from Mexico and Harlem Renaissance-era bracelets and necklaces, are among the several pieces in her jewelry collection that tell me how she lived. Mama Helen continued to collect jewelry until about a month before her passing in 2008.

What she left behind and what you may locate in your relatives’ jewelry boxes is more valuable in genealogy research.

If you wish to know more about how to turn your ancestor’s home into a genealogical treasure hunt for “Road Show”-style results and for successful ancestral purposes, plan to join us for three workshops Family Genealogy Workshop – Hillside International Truth Center in February 2021. The workshops are tax deductible and all proceeds will benefit the Sankofa Hillside International Truth Center, Atlanta, GA.

Featured

Our Family’s Civil War Contributions

At first, black soldiers are paid half of what white soldiers were paid. This was corrected in 1864, with some black units receiving back pay for their services.

Check out this great history lesson about Arkansas (my family’s home) Black Union Troops

Many former African-American slaves and freedmen from Arkansas answered President Abraham Lincoln’s call for volunteers to help put down the Confederate rebellion. Across the war-torn nation, 180,000 black men responded. An estimated 40,000 lost their lives in the conflict. Lincoln later credited these “men of color” with helping turn the tide of the war, calling them “the sable arm.” The official records from the U.S. government credit 5,526 men of African descent as having served in the Union army from the state of Arkansas. Between 3,000 and 4,000 additional black soldiers served in Arkansas during the war, including in heavy artillery, cavalry, and infantry regiments. In addition, black soldiers manned all of the batteries and fortifications at Helena (Phillips County) from 1864 until the end of the war in 1865.

U.S. Medals of Honor were presented to several great men who fought against all odds in the Union Army during the Civil War. Source: Wikipedia

Regiments of black soldiers were organized in Arkansas during the American Civil War as fighting units of the U.S. Army. These regiments and others were all created on May 22, 1863, when the U.S. War Department created the Bureau of Colored Troops, most commonly known at the United States Colored Troops (USCT). All of the black regiments were led by appointed white officers. On March 11, 1864, all USCT regiments were reassigned unit numbers, which historians differentiate with “old” and “new” classifications. For example, the Second Arkansas Colored Infantry became the Fifty-fourth U.S. Colored Volunteers. At first, black soldiers are paid half of what white soldiers were paid. This was corrected in 1864, with some black units receiving back pay for their services.

The Arkansas regiments included First Arkansas Battery–African Descent (Battery H, Second U.S. Colored Light Artillery), Eleventh U.S. Colored InfantryFirst Arkansas Infanty–African Descent (Forty-sixth U.S. Colored Infantry), Second Arkansas Infantry–African Descent (Fifty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry), Third Arkansas Infantry–African Descent (Fifty-sixth U.S. Colored Infantry), Sixty-ninth U.S. Colored Infantry, Fifth Arkansas Infantry–African Descent (112th U.S. Colored Infantry), and the Sixth Arkansas Infantry–African Descent (113th U.S. Colored Infantry).

The First Arkansas Colored Infantry (Forty-sixth Colored Infantry) was assigned to the Department of the Gulf in June 1863. In addition to these regiments, other regiments of black soldiers also participated in battles and skirmishes in Arkansas. The First Kansas Colored Infantry was one such regiment. It was made up of ex-slaves from Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri. Black troops fought for the Union despite the Confederate Congress passing on May 1, 1863, a proclamation to the effect that any captured black solder fighting for the Union would be executed. Arkansas’s black regiments were garrisoned at Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Helena (Phillips County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) from late 1863 to the end of the war in 1865.

The First Arkansas Colored Regiment had its own marching song. Penned by Captain Lindley Miller of the First Arkansas, the song was sung to the tune of “John Brown’s Body” and was published in 1864. The opening stanza expressed the pride the soldiers felt in their work:

Oh, we’re the bully soldiers of the “First of Arkansas,”

We are fighting for the Union, we are fighting for the law,

We can hit a Rebel further than a white man ever saw,

As we go marching on.

Time and time again, the black soldiers proved their prowess and courage in battle. Major General James Blunt wrote after the Battle of Honey Springs in Indian Territory, in which the First Kansas Colored participated, “I never saw such fighting as was done by the Negro regiment….The question that negroes will fight is settled; besides they make better solders in every respect than any troops I have ever had under my command.” A writer for an abolitionist newspaper in Leavenworth, Kansas, remarked upon the courage of black troops at the Skirmish of Island Mound in Missouri on October 29, 1862, between Union and Confederate forces. “It is useless to talk any more of negro courage,” he wrote. “The men fight like tigers, each and every one of them, and the main difficulty was to hold them well in hand.” Writing after the battle of the Engagement at Jenkins’ Ferry on April 30, 1864, division commander Brigadier General Frederick Salomon said the black troops under his command fought with conspicuous gallantry.

At the Engagement at Poison Spring, fought on April 18, 1864, the black soldiers of the First Kansas suffered heavy casualties—117 died and sixty-five were wounded. The death toll was aggravated by the fact that Confederate soldiers executed the captured and wounded men left on the field. These atrocities were witnessed firsthand by the regiment’s white commander, Colonel James M. Williams. It also gave rise to the battle cry among his troops to “Remember Poison Spring!”

After the Engagement at Jenkins’ Ferry, fought just a few days later on April 30, 1864, an officer of the Second Kansas Colored explained, “It was a question…whether the blacks would fight.” But the black soldiers’ prowess in battle convinced not only the Confederates they would be a worthy enemy, but it also convinced many of the white soldiers who were fighting alongside them. Even the German-American soldiers of the Twenty-seventh Wisconsin, who harbored contempt for all blacks in general, agreed the black troops had done well at Jenkins’ Ferry. There were reports of black soldiers committing war atrocities, too, cutting the throats of the Confederate wounded left on the battlefield at Jenkins’ Ferry. Many black soldiers had witnessed firsthand the brutal treatment given wounded African Americans and their officers by the Confederates, and they knew they would be given no quarter.

In total, black troops fought in twenty-nine battles and skirmishes in Arkansas during the war. According to the Official Army Register of the Volunteer Force of the United States Army, 1861-1865, these battles included:

·        Arkansas River, December 18, 1864—Fifty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry

·        Bayou Boeuf, December 13, 1863—Third U.S. Colored Cavalry

·        Big Creek, July 26, 1864—Battalion E, Second Light Artillery, Sixtieth U.S. Colored Infantry

·        Bogg’s Mill, January 24, 1865—Eleventh U.S. Colored Infantry (Old)

·        Camden, April 24, 1864—Fifty-seventh U.S. Colored Infantry

·        Chippewa Steamer, February 17, 1865—Eighty-third U.S. Colored Infantry (New)

·        Clarksville, January 18, 1865—Seventy-ninth U.S. Colored Infantry (New)

·        Fort Smith, August 24, 1864—Eleventh U.S. Colored Infantry (Old)

·        Fort Smith, December 24, 1864—Eighty-third U.S. Colored Infantry (New)

·        Helena, July 4, 1863—Second Arkansas Colored Infantry (Fifty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry)

·        Helena, August 2, 1864—Sixty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry

·        Horse-Head Creek, February 17, 1864—Seventy-ninth U.S. Colored Infantry (New)

·        Indian Bay, April 13, 1864—Fifty-sixth U.S. Colored Infantry

·        Jenkins’ Ferry, April 30, 1864—Seventy-ninth and Eighty-third U.S. Colored Infantry

·        Jenkins’ Ferry, May 4, 1864—Eighty-third U.S. Colored Infantry (New)

·        Joy’s Ford, January 8, 1865—Seventy-ninth U.S. Colored Infantry (New)

·        Little Rock, April 26, 1864—Fifty-seventh U.S. Colored Infantry

·        Little Rock, May 28, 1864—Fifty-seventh U.S. Colored Infantry

·        Lotus Steamer, January 17, 1865—Eighty-third U.S. Colored Infantry (New)

·        Meffleton Lodge, June 29, 1865—Fifty-sixth U.S. Colored Infantry

·        Pine Bluff, July 2, 1864—Sixty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry

·        Poison Spring, April 18, 1864—Seventy-ninth U.S. Colored Infantry (New)

·        Prairie D’Ane, April 13, 1864—Seventy-ninth and Eighty-third U.S. Colored Infantry

·        Rector’s Farm, December 19, 1864—Eighty-third U.S. Colored Infantry (New)

·        Roseville Creek, March 20, 1864—Seventy-ninth U.S. Colored Infantry (New)

·        Ross’ Landing, February 14, 1864—Fifty-first U.S. Colored Infantry

·        Saline River, May 4, 1865—Eighty-third U.S. Colored Infantry (New)

·        Saline River, May 4, 1865—Fifty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry

·        Wallace’s Ferry, July 26, 1864—Fifty-sixth U.S. Colored Infantry

·        White River, October 22, 1864—Fifty-third U.S. Colored Infantry

For additional information:
Bearss, Edwin Cole. Steele’s Retreat from Camden and the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry. Little Rock: Arkansas Civil War Centennial Commission, 1967.

Burkhart, George S. Confederate Rage, Yankee Wrath: No Quarter in the Civil War. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2007.

Christ, Mark K. “‘They Will Be Armed’: Lorenzo Thomas Recruits Black Troops in Helena, April 6, 1863.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 72 (Winter 2013): 366–383.

———. “‘To let you know that I am alive’: Civil War Letters of Capt. John R. Graton, First Kansas Colored Infantry Regiment.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 78 (Spring 2019): 57–80.

Christ, Mark K., ed. “All Cut to Pieces and Gone to Hell”: The Civil War, Race Relations, and the Battle of Poison Spring. Little Rock: August House, 2003.

———. Rugged and Sublime: The Civil War in Arkansas. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1994.

Glatthaar, Joseph T. Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers. New York: Free Press, 1990.

Hargrove, Hondon B. Black Union Soldiers in the Civil War. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2003.

Lause, Mark A. Race and Radicalism in the Union Army. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009.

Nichols, Ronnie A. “Emancipation of Black Union Soldiers in Little Rock, 1863–1865.” Pulaski County Historical Review 61 (Fall 2013): 76–85.

Robertson, Brian K. “‘Will They Fight? Ask the Enemy’: United States Colored Troops at Big Creek, Arkansas, July 26, 1864.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 66 (Autumn 2007): 320–332.

Trudeau, Noah Andre. Like Men of War: Black Troops in the Civil War 1862–1865. Boston: Back Bay Books, 1999.

Urwin, Gregory J. W. Black Flag over Dixie: Racial Atrocities and Reprisals in the Civil War. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2005.

Walls, David. “Marching Song of the First Arkansas Colored Regiment: A Contested Attribution.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 66 (Winter 2007): 401–421.

Steven L. Warren
Overland Park, Kansas

Black Union Troops – Encyclopedia of Arkansas

My great-grandparents, Eugene Owen, Sr. and Armentha Owen, moved from Shelby, Tennessee to Hope, Arkansas in 1916, the same year that my grandfather, Eugene Owen, Jr. was born. In 1924, my great-aunt Nannie Marjorie Owen was born.

View more on https://www.pinterest.com/annkimbrough5/wead-write-away-black-genealogy/

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It’s in the cards: Three generations of family ties together genealogy gaps

“Those are the breakthrough moments in the collection of Black genealogy. Seek out those special times when generations blend. Take a few notes or record some of the conversations.”

By Dr. Ann Wead Kimbrough

Clockwise: My mother, Angeline Cecil Owen Wead (left); her great-grandson, Kingston Apollo Kimbrough; his sister, Kaidence Aurora Kimbrough; and my son, John Charles Kimbrough

One of the best ways to glean information from family members across the generations is to enjoy a meal together or play games, especially during the holidays.

In December 2019 in Tallahassee, FL, my mother, Angie Wead, made her annual trek from Atlanta to enjoy the holidays with my grandchildren, son and wife, close friends and me. During that Christmas season, my youngest son, John, also visited us. It was a full house.

John is blind and partially deaf. The cards, including UNO cards (his favorite game) include Braille. Most of the games that we purchase include the Braille language.

During such times, my grandchildren learn from their great-grandmother about her childhood and she listens to accounts of their lives. There are often a lot of “I didn’t know” moments.

Those are the breakthrough moments in the collection of Black genealogy. Seek out those special times when generations blend. Take a few notes or record some of the conversations.

For instance, I did not know that my mother grew up with an aunt who became blind. When my son, John, lost his sight at age 8, it was my mother who recalled independent tasks that Aunt Ada would perform including cooking , sewing and playing the piano. Her husband, my great-uncle Cecil was also very supportive.

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How a 1929 Photo is Music to a Genealogist’s “Ear”

By Dr. Ann Wead Kimbrough


This picture strikes a perfect pitch for genealogists seeking accurate records about ancestors.

It’s my maternal side’s great-granduncle Ernest Wilks (name spelled incorrectly above) who is posing with his saxophone in this 1929 picture of the Pike’s Roamers Band. I happened upon this picture in the 7-volume “Blacks in the Ozarks.”

Here’s how Uncle Ernest’s photo broke through a long-term brick wall regarding his life outside of an outstanding military career:

  1. The photo provides a date — sometime in 1929 — as indicated by the writing on the bottom right, near the drum skin. It also appears that the photography studio is listed nearby.
  2. The name of the band is written on the picture along with the location of the photo — Springfield, Missouri. That is where Great-uncle Ernest was born in March 1909.
  3. The recorder of the photograph is also a first cousin, twice removed, Alberta Renfro Duncan. She has an interesting notation that indicates the band in the picture is an outgrowth of another band by another name.
  4. I started researching Uncle Ernest’s musical talents and learned that he is among the jazz trombonists chronicled in historical documents. In fact, one of my Florida water aerobics’ classmates recognized the name and he told me a lot about the bands that Uncle Ernest played in and his great musical abilities.

Uncle Ernest in Hawaii in an unknown year

I started researching my great-grandmother, Edna Wilks Robinson’s brothers after her death in 1989. I relied on what I recalled about each uncle and also consulted my mother, Angie Owen Wead. However, Mom only knew that Uncle Ernest was quite content with living in Hawaii. She knew that he retired there after a great military. That was it.

Sometimes when relatives end their knowledge of an ancestor, it may appear to be a brick wall. Yet, with Uncle Ernest’s military record and musical interests, the opportunities increased for me to learn more about him. My first Cousin Mark Owen, also my partner in our genealogical services business, located great photos of Uncle Ernest from the files of other ancestors.

That’s what made it even more rewarding to locate Uncle Ernest in his hometown playing in a band. I also found him in Honolulu playing in a band. From all indications, this permanent bachelor lived his best life.


https://www.newspapers.com/clippings/download/?id=67846304


Dr. Ann Lineve Wead Kimbrough is a certified genealogist interested in reconstructing her family’s histories. Beginning in February 2021, she will begin offering workshops and other Black Genealogy Services along with her partner and cousin, Mark Owen.

How to heal African-Americans’ traumatic history

Reprinted with permission

Names of lynching victims at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala. AP/Brynn Anderson

Taasogle Daryl Rowe, Pepperdine University and Kamilah Marie Woodson, Howard University

Do you smell it? That foul odor that floats in the air, when something you thought was dead is unearthed.

That’s the smell of ole man Jim Crow crawling back into our daily lives.

One of the most horrendous and abhorrent forms of Jim Crow violence – the racial caste system that operated between 1877 and the mid-1960s, primarily in Southern states – was the publicly sanctioned use of “racial terror lynchings.” These killings were perpetrated by those who enjoyed the protection of white supremacist social policies designed to maintain strict control of African-Americans through the systemic use of terror.

Documenting those lynchings is the goal of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, or NMPJ, which opened on April 26, 2018.

But our question is: How do memorials to that dehumanizing violence help the African-American descendants of such treatment heal from their history?

History as trauma

Jim Crow was grounded in the lie of Black inferiority. Dismantling the impacts of that lie on individuals and communities has been an ongoing effort of members of the Association of Black Psychologists, of which we both are members. The organization was founded almost 50 years ago so that “psychologists of African descent … can assist in solving problems of Black communities and other ethnic groups.”

As psychologists, we ask the complex question: Can memorials to a dehumanizing and traumatizing history, the Jim Crow history, provide a path to restorative justice, psychologically, socially and politically?

For African-Americans, history and trauma aren’t just in the past. Indeed, it would be simpler to help our communities heal if Jim Crow were but a memory.

In the last 50 years or so, black Americans thought ole Jim Crow had died. But really, ole man Crow had simply gone to finishing school and emerged as James Crow, Esq. He had polished up his language and was operating in an alleged system of diversity and multiculturalism, soft-selling his system of exclusivity as “traditions.”

Those traditions were called “states’ rights” and “customs,” “school choice” and “law and order.” Then there are the Jim Crow practices that disproportionately target Black Americans: mass incarceration, police brutality and the war on drugs.

Covered up but still there: Concrete water fountains in the front of the Jones County Courthouse in Ellisville, Miss., have metal plaques covering signs designating that one was for whites and the other for blacks during the Jim Crow era. AP/Rogelio V. Solis

One of the clearest examples of ole man Jim Crow resurfacing has been the documented public assaults and assassinations of Black bodies during the last 10 years. Men, women and children of African ancestry are being beaten, bruised and executed by police across the country simply for being Black and alive. Our communities experience direct and vicarious trauma every day.

Now, to this daily terror, add historical trauma for Black Americans.

Historical trauma is the cumulative phenomenon where those who never directly experienced trauma (enslavement, rape, lynchings, murder) can still exhibit signs and symptoms of the trauma.

That historical trauma can be observed in African-Americans’ unresolved grief, expressed as depression and despair and their harboring of unexplained anger, expressed as aggression and rage. Often they internalize oppression by accepting the lie of inferiority, which can then lead to self-loathing.

This historical trauma must be addressed. It functions as a persistent sickness, a deadly virus – in the family, in the African-American community and in the larger society.

Memory as medicine

The establishment of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice begins a long-awaited process of healing from the unspeakable and unacknowledged acts in our history, whose echoes can still be heard today. It is an excellent example of one step towards the process of healing historical trauma for persons of African ancestry.

By accurately documenting the gravity of the massacres, the NMPJ names the nameless, counts the uncounted and frees the victims, who were savagely desecrated, from the perpetrators of the atrocities of racial terror lynching.

The NMPJ was established in an effort to promote social justice that can be liberating and validating to African-American people. Its mission aligns with that of the Association of Black Psychologists, which is the “liberation of the African Mind, empowerment of the African Character, and enlivenment and illumination of the African Spirit” – all with the goal of restoring humanity, promoting optimal functioning and insuring psychological wellness.

Most trauma experts recognize that the restoration of memory is healing. Developing a story in which the victim is held blameless from the infliction of abuse is essential for rebuilding a sense of independence and self efficacy.

In our work as psychologists, we understand that helping our clients manifest resilient, powerful stories can help them negotiate the distress of historical trauma.

Focusing on strengths can help descendant African-Americans learn to overcome challenges and tap into reservoirs of strength and self-determination. For example, understanding that many of the African-Americans represented in the NMPJ were killed because they stood up for injustice, had the strength to resist and fought for the freedoms of subsequent generations can be healing.

Stories that heal

In an earlier work, we advanced an argument that there is a set of general healing goals that are important to consider for persons of African ancestry. Those healing goals, taken together, allow us to reconstruct understandings our community and ourselves.

Christening ceremony for Noah Maasai Woodson Reed, which echoes a practice during enslavement, when black babies were held to the sky to ask for protection and blessing. Kamilah M. Woodson, Author provided

This is done through helping us take back our individual and collective identities and stories, especially those that replicate and reflect our true and righteous African heritage. The goals also allow us to restore our spirits, sense of self, sense of wonderment and potential.

We then can recognize the divine within, as well as promote our community members’ interdependence and interconnectedness – truly embodying the African proverb, “I am because we are and since we are, therefore I am.”

Recently, scholar Shawn Ginwright argued that addressing the ongoing exposure of African-Americans to dehumanizing experiences calls for a shift to healing-centered engagement instead of trauma-informed care. That departure shifts the focus from “what’s wrong with you” to “what’s right with you.”

For example, rather than locating the trauma within the individual, a healing-centered engagement would address the issues that created the trauma in the first place, and would view the individual holistically, highlighting strengths and resilience.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice helps restore memories that demonstrate the violence perpetrated against black people during the horrific epoch of publicly sanctioned lynching was not the fault of the victims and survivors of African ancestry.

The memorial defies the lie of Black inferiority.

The danger of accurately retelling the horrific stories of people of African ancestry in the U.S. is that it may create new trauma. Pairing accurate histories with healing-centered engagement can limit this risk.

For example, the Association of Black Psychologists, in partnership with the Community Healing Network, conducts Emotional Emancipation Circles. These national self-help groups focus on overcoming the lie of black inferiority and the emotional legacies of enslavement and racism.

We believe that the restorative memories developed in public spaces like the National Memorial for Peace and Justice create a shared story that can inoculate African-Americans from ongoing dehumanization.

Taasogle Daryl Rowe, Professor of Psychology, Pepperdine University and Kamilah Marie Woodson, Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology (Clinical Psychology by Training), Howard University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

How a 1929 Photo is Music to a Genealogist’s “Ear”

By Dr. Ann Wead Kimbrough


This picture strikes a perfect pitch for genealogists seeking accurate records about ancestors.

It’s my maternal side’s great-granduncle Ernest Wilks (name spelled incorrectly above) who is posing with his saxophone in this 1929 picture of the Pike’s Roamers Band. I happened upon this picture in the 7-volume “Blacks in the Ozarks.”

Here’s how Uncle Ernest’s photo broke through a long-term brick wall regarding his life outside of an outstanding military career:

  1. The photo provides a date — sometime in 1929 — as indicated by the writing on the bottom right, near the drum skin. It also appears that the photography studio is listed nearby.
  2. The name of the band is written on the picture along with the location of the photo — Springfield, Missouri. That is where Great-uncle Ernest was born in March 1909.
  3. The recorder of the photograph is also a first cousin, twice removed, Alberta Renfro Duncan. She has an interesting notation that indicates the band in the picture is an outgrowth of another band by another name.
  4. I started researching Uncle Ernest’s musical talents and learned that he is among the jazz trombonists chronicled in historical documents. In fact, one of my Florida water aerobics’ classmates recognized the name and he told me a lot about the bands that Uncle Ernest played in and his great musical abilities.

Uncle Ernest in Hawaii in an unknown year

I started researching my great-grandmother, Edna Wilks Robinson’s brothers after her death in 1989. I relied on what I recalled about each uncle and also consulted my mother, Angie Owen Wead. However, Mom only knew that Uncle Ernest was quite content with living in Hawaii. She knew that he retired there after a great military. That was it.

Sometimes when relatives end their knowledge of an ancestor, it may appear to be a brick wall. Yet, with Uncle Ernest’s military record and musical interests, the opportunities increased for me to learn more about him. My first Cousin Mark Owen, also my partner in our genealogical services business, located great photos of Uncle Ernest from the files of other ancestors.

That’s what made it even more rewarding to locate Uncle Ernest in his hometown playing in a band. I also found him in Honolulu playing in a band. From all indications, this permanent bachelor lived his best life.


https://www.newspapers.com/clippings/download/?id=67846304


Dr. Ann Lineve Wead Kimbrough is a certified genealogist interested in reconstructing her family’s histories. Beginning in February 2021, she will begin offering workshops and other Black Genealogy Services along with her partner and cousin, Mark Owen.

Getting started in African American Genealogy?

See you in class beginning Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021 (see other blogs on this site)

For the first assignment: Look at this Bible’s family info page\

Source: Library of Congress


Course supplemental materials

In preparation for what promises to be a lively educational experience in the treasure trove-filled African American genealogical research, we recommend this National Archives reference material. It will serve as a supplement for your class experiences, Sankofa Family Genealogy and Heritage workshop series.

https://www.google.com/books/edition/Generations_Past/X2QWPQtEYRUC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=Blockson,+Charles+L.+and+Ron+Fry.+%09+%09Black+genealogy.+Englewood+Cliffs,+N.J.:+Prentice-Hall,++%091977.+232+p.,+facsims.++%09CS21+.B55++%09Bibliography:+p.+220-228.+Includes+index.&pg=PA1&printsec=frontcover