Featured

Turning the page on access to historic newspapers to trace black ancestory

Free. Public. Accessible.

Free and public access to historic newspapers reporting about African Americans during those challenging reseach years — 1880 to the 1920s and beyond — is available thanks to the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.

How to accomplish your new searches? It is straightforward:

  1. Go to https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ and type in “African Americans” or “Black genealogy” or something similar in the search bar.
  2. Further sort your search about loved ones or general history.
Time to get started with black ancestry research through the free offferings.
Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Featured

“Civil” rights in different times

Add title

Dad speaking to predominately white folk on civil rights in April 1968
Rodney S. Wead speaks to a group in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska in April 1968, one month after he was beaten until bloodied. (Photographer unknown)

I was 10 years old in 1968 and it seemed the world was on fire. In some ways, it was.

The bad:

  • In March, racist U.S. Presidential Candidate and Alabama Governor George Wallace spoke at a campaign rally in Omaha, Nebraska that resulted in peaceful protestors — including my Dad — being brutally beaten by his private security officers.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in April.
  • U.S. Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy was assinated later that year.

The good:

  • The landmark, U.S. Civil Rights Act was passed.
  • NASA’s Apollo 8 orbited the moon.
  • Although harsh to listen to, all sides of political and societal issues were heard by the opposing voices.

My father, a bonafide peacemaker who worked his “day” job to benefit his family, spoke in civil tones and tenor. His colleagues did the same. Oh how we long for the good old days!

Featured

The similarities: 1918 Pandemic and today’s COVID-19 health crises

As we consider moving from B.C. –before coronavirus  — to some semblance of societal normalcy after the 2021 pandemic is declared gone, I’ve often pondered how my family survived similar and perhaps worst conditions during 1918-19.

Black nurses saved our ancestors during the 1918 – 1920 pandemic

https://theundefeated.com/features/in-1918-and-2020-race-colors-americas-response-to-epidemics/


Is it 1918 or 2021?*

As we consider moving from B.C. –before coronavirus  — to some semblance of societal normalcy after the 2021 pandemic is declared gone, I’ve often pondered how my family survived similar and perhaps worst conditions during 1918-19.

In 1918, the year that my late maternal grandmother, Mary Helen Wilkes (later Owen and Douthy became her married names)  was born in Springfield, Mo. on a sunny April day. A health pandemic was raging.

My late great-grandmother, Edna Wilkes Robinson, was fortunate to receive special care from our large family. My family provided vigilant attention to protecting the newborn from the outbreak. That’s all I have heard about the period involving my grandmother’s early life.  It would take at least one year for the  worst of the so-called Spanish flu pandemic to close its horrible chapter of death and lingering illnesses across the nation.

By 1919, several verified reports revealed that approximately 50 million people or one-fifth of the world population and 25 percent of the U.S. residents, were affected.  At its end, the world population life span projections dropped by 12 years due to the horrible rage of the pandemic  https://www.archives.gov/exhibits/influenza-epidemic/.
In many ways, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic is identical to what occured in 1918. Virtually every corner of this world was impacted with societal and health crises.  The pandemic environment in 2020 is errily similiar to what occured during the so-called Spanish  flu of a century ago. The descrption of life in the 1918-19 period included periods of massive anxiety, frustration and fear. Some of the descriptives and visual images displayed closed schools, limited outside caregivers for children,  limitations on large gatherings in public spaces, dismal retail sales, farmers’ fiscal woes and government directives on how and when to remove the safety in shelter orders. There was debate and violent positions by loud members of the 1918 citizenry that  match protests today in favor of fully re-establishing the workplace and schools’ face-to-face routines. (See file:///E:/Nebraska%20history%20and%20flu%20epidemic%201918%20onward%20NH1957BacktoNormal.pdf). 

Effective vaccines would have been welcomed

Unlike the many folk today who are questioning whether to receive the necessary protections against the current pandemic — otherwise known as vaccinations — those living and dying during the 1918-1920 crisis would have welcomed such medical/science advancements.




Did the U.S. open too soon?
The outbreak was first detected in the spring of 1918. The “rush” to get ‘back to normal’ was cited as the cause for the next wave of the outbreak in the fall of 1918.What happened on and after Oct. 7, 1918 when the pandemic re-entered my home state of Nebraska was devastating. Death and illnesses climbed to epidemic porportions. Whether in the Midwest or other parts of the country, the realities were the same: Limited to no traditional acitivites during the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s (1919) holiday seasons.  The year 1919 opened up with the virus waning, yet still active across the nation. 
I have found that history is a wonderful teacher. If we are willing to let the ‘student (today) meet the teacher (historical evidence), we can learn more about how to cope and effetively survive during such times of uncertainity.

Some lessons for today from yesterday

1. Find out what’s true and what’s not. Debunk myths and move forward with great information. Here’s a good source about the myths of the pandemic of 1918
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/ten-myths-about-1918-flu-pandemic-180967810/

2. How did the U.S. President and his administration handle the 1918 pandemic challenges

https://meaww.com/the-great-american-cover-up-did-woodrow-wilson-facilitate-the-outbreak-of-the-spanish-infleunza

https://phoreveryoung.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/the-spanish-flu-epidemic-the-worst-government-cover-up-in-the-history-of-the-world-that-killed-over-20-million-people/

3. Take advantage of quality and helpful medical, personal adjustment and health information delivered via multimedia outlets. For instance, some federal agencies offer a wealth of information to help the collective “us” live through the COVID-19 social distancing restrictions and more. Here are a few.
https://www.nrdc.org/experts/joel-scata/fema-takes-covid-19

https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2020/04/15/celebrating-invasive-plant-pest-and-disease-awareness-month-your-children

https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/osha/osha20200309

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic

https://www.bizjournals.com/bizwomen/news/latest-news/2020/04/where-women-business-owners-can-turn-for-covid-19.html?page=all

Letter carrier in New York wearing mask for protection against influenza. New York City, October 16, 1918. Letter carriers, mass transit workers, and others who came in contact with the public, were especially vulnerable to disease. Wearing a face mask helped them avoid contagion: National Archives at College Park, MD. Record number 165-WW-269B-15

4. Grieving and buying the dead in 1918
https://www.history.com/news/spanish-flu-pandemic-dead

https://www.inquirer.com/news/coronavirus-spanish-flu-1918-philadelphia-camac-mortician-funeral-home-20200428.html

5. Taking care of family, oneself
https://www.cleveland.com/metro/2020/04/how-did-society-emerge-after-1918-spanish-flu-pandemic-and-what-we-learn-about-reopening-ohio-after-coronavirus.html

Out of one “pan” and into another

My journey of seeking insight about the 2020 coronovirus outbreak led me to pages and footage of 1918. That is also the health turbulent year that my grandmother Helen Wilkes was born in Springfield, Mo. https://www.ozarksalive.com/covid-19-reminds-of-1918-spanish-flu-pandemic/.

The first”Safe in Shelter” or ‘Stay at Home’  directive from my current home, prompted me to sit still and wonder how  my grandmother — we called her Mama Helen — survived her infancy during the widespread outbreak in Missouri and her eventual home of Omaha, Nebraska. . I have thought a lot about my great-grandmother, Edna Robinson, who brought baby Helen into this world of a flu epidemic. My great-grandmother worked as a domestic in a private home. How did she care for her daughter. How did my other family members live through this crisis?
I am left without answers to my natural queries. It also never occured to me to ask my great-grandmother, grandmother and other relatives who were alive during that deadly period about their experiences. Who knew that the global citizenry would experience such devastation. The best solutions to my questions has been to pour through lots of research from video and audio remembrances and lots of periodicals. 
WILKS FAMILY PHOTO
My grandmother, Helen Wilkes and her mother and a large gathering of our family at home in Springfield, Missouri in the 1920s. Source: Personal collection

“New Normal”
No matter what you may make of the current/2020 period of social distancing, hyper attention to health and safety measures and mounting cases of those sick with COVID-19 and worse, we are living and creating our “new normal.”

It’s not pretty, yet it is a great time of reflective exercises. Thank the health care professionals, embrace your close-knit family ties, learn something along with the children who are in school via virtual settings, good deeper in your spiritual journey, read or listen to books on tape, count all of your blessings and remain alert for nuisances that shift your thinking to flexible survival modes. I take comfort in knowing that many of our families overcomed huge obstacles that included no chance for a vaccine as we are now afforded that possibility. #onlythestrongsurvive.

*I originally wrote this column a year ago. I updated the current year reference to 2021 and vaccine information

Featured

Current hurricane paths follow the same route as the African Slave Trade. Hmmm

This post was researched and written by a great Sis who writes “Dat Nola Chic”

DAT NOLA CHIC

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NON-FICTIONUNCATEGORIZED

Hurricanes and African Slave Trade : What’s real?

This recent Hurricane season has captured the world’s attention and have us all questioning what the experts really know, if anything at all and the talk Hurricane’s and Slavery. Which leads me to ask why would one believe such as story as Africans being angry hundreds of years later and showing that anger by releasing the spirit of a horrible hurricane to destroy and take lives over all these years.

The only correlation I have found was that both had the same start. It has been proven that Hurricanes that most are formed around the coast Africa and follow the same path as slave ships .

There are African-American folktales about Hurricanes being the energy source of our ancestors; stolen Africans, beaten and lost at sea. Can Hurricanes be a mythical avenger that comes to right the wrongs of our ancestors? Souls of the sea, who unleash their wrath annually unto their oppressors?

wp-image-702036922.

Is there a connection between the Atlantic Slave Trade Routes and the path taken by hurricanes? If so, what about those who did not die while en route, but made it to live out their lives as slaves? What vengeance do they get?wp-image-252553052

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADREPORT THIS AD

wp-image-1632222100.

Some would like to see it that way, but a Hurricane like all natural disasters do not discriminate. I would hope that if a spell of sort was cast into the ocean in honor of my ancestors that its effects would not affect black people. It would be irresponsible and cruel of them to call upon this mythical storm to be released in the same direction of  their loved ones.

Yes, they traveled the same path as Hurricanes, but wouldn’t that mean they were affected by Hurricanes as well? Maybe, they prayed that the oceans would swallow the entire ship so that they may have rest and peace, not this hoodoo stuff.

wp-image-1493612073

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

I do not like all the hype about an ocean full of angry African souls who have not found peace and are out for revenge. It’s hard being alive seeing all the suffering just from this past Hurricane season, but to have people speak highly about my ancestors in this manner is heartbreaking.

wp-image-1530575276

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

Hurricanes bring death, destruction and suffering to all people no matter race, economical or social status. Katrina proved that the majority of people affected where poor black people. Yet, there’s the talk of an angry oppressed African spirit of the sea?

wp-image-432944215

Katrina also had religious folks saying, New Orleans was struck in such a manner, because of all the sin in our city.. I actually stopped attending church after a pastor used the fate of my city for his sermon. I wonder what they will say now? Texas is a cowboy redneck state, a big one at that and Florida follows suit.

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADREPORT THIS AD

No human wants to see others suffering, especially when it can happen to them. In saying that my ancestors would want to inflict the suffering that people are enduring after these Hurricanes is a dishonor to their spirits. To say that, they would be calling them inhuman, uncaring, unloving and the list goes on. Why would we agree in saying they would want someone to suffer, because they did? I have felt my share of heartache, feeling wronged and victimized, but I would never want another person to go through what I went through not even my oppressor.

wp-image-323229140

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

I do not think any of us can just simply go through our day without even a thought of what our fellow citizens are going through. None of us are immune to disaster, there’s no sum of money that will save Mr.Billionaire’s life or his property in comparison to ours. This is not Black/White Lives Matters, this is All Lives Matters and we must at least show compassion to those going through right now.

I can’t imagine what my ancestors went through while enduring whatever storm was in their path, but today I can close my eyes and picture the elderly people in Texas. They do not share my culture or skin color, but they represented exactly what it means to endure suffering. They were living in a disaster, in fear, uncertain if they were sitting in their actual  water grave. They were calm, possibly praying that their families were safe and sound while they sat waist deep in flood waters. I’m pretty sure had they lost their lives their souls would not have been tagged with the next disaster or the tangled up in headlines, because they wanted to avenge their suffering by suing the nursing home. I believe their reactions and emotions were inline with what my ancestors felt at the time as well.

wp-image-346277588

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

It’s not fair to pin a natural disaster on someone’s soul, no one has that type of vengeance on their heart. Suffering is terrible. I know we all wish we could control the amount and type of it that we had to endure, but we can’t. I wish that instead of blaming a group of people for what was done that we could enjoy the benefits of all that was accomplished from it. We can learn from our ancestors past and do them a favor of not repeating it and honor them by doing better.

wp-image-1841712458

Is it that important making sure the slave masters of yesteryear are held responsible or should we keep the hype up about our ancestors needing vindication via Hurricanes? Or do we learn more about emergency preparedness, push the government  to have a true emergency plan & monies for the poor, sick, elderly and animals to get out in time.  It’s proven that most people stay at home, because they do not have the resources to leave. Just like with the hospitals and nursing homes, there’s no true evacuation plan and now has proven that there should be.

A Hurricane or any other natural disaster is not a spirit, it’s Mother Nature and we have very limited knowledge as to why it happens, but from our ancestor, some may call it science, but whatever it is, we have no power or control over it. We have some knowledge on how to live and hopefully survive when it happens, but in the meantime we must assist those who are suffering from the effects of the disasters.

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

A disaster comes in many forms, some of us may go through life without a severe devastation, but regardless they can be soul changing, heartbreaking and will leave scars that can not be seen with eye.

wp-image-1085319675

A hurricane is formed and it travels, it does not make any sense that people are unable to receive assistance with evacuating.

My heart is so heavy for my country, for the world actually, we have to find a way to enjoy our lives and those in it. It didn’t take a nuclear bomb to destroy popular tourist destination, it wasn’t Avenge of Slaves, it was a Hurricane. I’m not sure if the Leaders of the world see that, but I do.DAT NOLA CHIC#HURRICANE ##KATRINA #HURRICANEKATRINA#LIFE #NATURALDISASTERS #LOSS #HOUSTON #KATRINA ##MIDDLEPASSAGE #SLAVES#NEWORLEANS ##SLAVERY#SLAVETRADE #TRANSATLANTIC #SLAVE

SEARCH

NON-FICTIONUNCATEGORIZED

Hurricanes and African Slave Trade : What’s real?

This recent Hurricane season has captured the world’s attention and have us all questioning what the experts really know, if anything at all and the talk Hurricane’s and Slavery. Which leads me to ask why would one believe such as story as Africans being angry hundreds of years later and showing that anger by releasing the spirit of a horrible hurricane to destroy and take lives over all these years.

The only correlation I have found was that both had the same start. It has been proven that Hurricanes that most are formed around the coast Africa and follow the same path as slave ships .

There are African-American folktales about Hurricanes being the energy source of our ancestors; stolen Africans, beaten and lost at sea. Can Hurricanes be a mythical avenger that comes to right the wrongs of our ancestors? Souls of the sea, who unleash their wrath annually unto their oppressors?

wp-image-702036922.

Is there a connection between the Atlantic Slave Trade Routes and the path taken by hurricanes? If so, what about those who did not die while en route, but made it to live out their lives as slaves? What vengeance do they get?wp-image-252553052

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADREPORT THIS AD

wp-image-1632222100.

Some would like to see it that way, but a Hurricane like all natural disasters do not discriminate. I would hope that if a spell of sort was cast into the ocean in honor of my ancestors that its effects would not affect black people. It would be irresponsible and cruel of them to call upon this mythical storm to be released in the same direction of  their loved ones.

Yes, they traveled the same path as Hurricanes, but wouldn’t that mean they were affected by Hurricanes as well? Maybe, they prayed that the oceans would swallow the entire ship so that they may have rest and peace, not this hoodoo stuff.

wp-image-1493612073

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

I do not like all the hype about an ocean full of angry African souls who have not found peace and are out for revenge. It’s hard being alive seeing all the suffering just from this past Hurricane season, but to have people speak highly about my ancestors in this manner is heartbreaking.

wp-image-1530575276

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

Hurricanes bring death, destruction and suffering to all people no matter race, economical or social status. Katrina proved that the majority of people affected where poor black people. Yet, there’s the talk of an angry oppressed African spirit of the sea?

wp-image-432944215

Katrina also had religious folks saying, New Orleans was struck in such a manner, because of all the sin in our city.. I actually stopped attending church after a pastor used the fate of my city for his sermon. I wonder what they will say now? Texas is a cowboy redneck state, a big one at that and Florida follows suit.

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADREPORT THIS AD

No human wants to see others suffering, especially when it can happen to them. In saying that my ancestors would want to inflict the suffering that people are enduring after these Hurricanes is a dishonor to their spirits. To say that, they would be calling them inhuman, uncaring, unloving and the list goes on. Why would we agree in saying they would want someone to suffer, because they did? I have felt my share of heartache, feeling wronged and victimized, but I would never want another person to go through what I went through not even my oppressor.

wp-image-323229140

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

I do not think any of us can just simply go through our day without even a thought of what our fellow citizens are going through. None of us are immune to disaster, there’s no sum of money that will save Mr.Billionaire’s life or his property in comparison to ours. This is not Black/White Lives Matters, this is All Lives Matters and we must at least show compassion to those going through right now.

I can’t imagine what my ancestors went through while enduring whatever storm was in their path, but today I can close my eyes and picture the elderly people in Texas. They do not share my culture or skin color, but they represented exactly what it means to endure suffering. They were living in a disaster, in fear, uncertain if they were sitting in their actual  water grave. They were calm, possibly praying that their families were safe and sound while they sat waist deep in flood waters. I’m pretty sure had they lost their lives their souls would not have been tagged with the next disaster or the tangled up in headlines, because they wanted to avenge their suffering by suing the nursing home. I believe their reactions and emotions were inline with what my ancestors felt at the time as well.

wp-image-346277588

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

It’s not fair to pin a natural disaster on someone’s soul, no one has that type of vengeance on their heart. Suffering is terrible. I know we all wish we could control the amount and type of it that we had to endure, but we can’t. I wish that instead of blaming a group of people for what was done that we could enjoy the benefits of all that was accomplished from it. We can learn from our ancestors past and do them a favor of not repeating it and honor them by doing better.

wp-image-1841712458

Is it that important making sure the slave masters of yesteryear are held responsible or should we keep the hype up about our ancestors needing vindication via Hurricanes? Or do we learn more about emergency preparedness, push the government  to have a true emergency plan & monies for the poor, sick, elderly and animals to get out in time.  It’s proven that most people stay at home, because they do not have the resources to leave. Just like with the hospitals and nursing homes, there’s no true evacuation plan and now has proven that there should be.

A Hurricane or any other natural disaster is not a spirit, it’s Mother Nature and we have very limited knowledge as to why it happens, but from our ancestor, some may call it science, but whatever it is, we have no power or control over it. We have some knowledge on how to live and hopefully survive when it happens, but in the meantime we must assist those who are suffering from the effects of the disasters.

https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS ADhttps://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

A disaster comes in many forms, some of us may go through life without a severe devastation, but regardless they can be soul changing, heartbreaking and will leave scars that can not be seen with eye.

wp-image-1085319675

A hurricane is formed and it travels, it does not make any sense that people are unable to receive assistance with evacuating.

My heart is so heavy for my country, for the world actually, we have to find a way to enjoy our lives and those in it. It didn’t take a nuclear bomb to destroy popular tourist destination, it wasn’t Avenge of Slaves, it was a Hurricane. I’m not sure if the Leaders of the world see that, but I do.DAT NOLA CHIC#HURRICANE ##KATRINA #HURRICANEKATRINA#LIFE #NATURALDISASTERS #LOSS #HOUSTON #KATRINA ##MIDDLEPASSAGE #SLAVES#NEWORLEANS ##SLAVERY#SLAVETRADE #TRANSATLANTIC #SLAVE

Featured

Slave songs: Drumming up courage and hope

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is lucy-mckim-garrison-music-sheet.jpg
“Roll, Jordan, Roll” was was coded for escaped slaves

The coded song for escaped slaves, “Roll, Jordan, Roll,” was one of many notable works captured by a young musicologist and published in 1867.

Lucy McKim was 19-years-old when she traveled with her abolitionist father in 1862 to the Sea Islands of Georgia for a three-week visit to check on the conditions of recently freed slaves. The piano teacher was naturally drawn to the songs being sung in different quarters by the newly freed people.

She began to chronicle their songs and in 1867, the then-wife of Wendell Phillip Garrison, published her work with two collaborators. The compelling story of her life and work is found in many journals and books.

Lucy McKim Garrison

Truly “Songs of Sorrow” as viewed by Lucy McKim Garrison, yet freedom songs for slaves

Courtesy of “Documenting the American South,” UNC-Chapel Hill LibraryLucy McKim Garrison was a musicologist born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 30, 1842.

She was born to James Miller and Sarah Allibone McKim. Her parents and other family members were known throughout the abolitionist community and had connections to Quakerism. Garrison received her education in Philadelphia but later moved to Perth Amboy, New Jersey, to attend the Eaglewood School. At the time that Garrison attended Eaglewood, the Grimke sisters were managing it and the school was attended by many abolitionists. She taught piano in Philadelphia and at the Eaglewood School.

During the Civil War in 1862, Garrison traveled with her father, who worked for the Port Royal Relief Committee, to South Carolina to investigate conditions of recently freed slaves. For three weeks, they stayed in the Sea Islands where she listened to the songs of the freedmen and attempted to put the songs into musical notation. The public did not receive her work well upon some of her first publications, so the project was put on hold.

Lucy and Wendell Phillips Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison’s third son, became engaged in 1864 and married on December 6, 1865. In 1867, Garrison gave birth to their first son, Lloyd, and also created Slave Songs of the United States in collaboration with William Francis Allen and Charles Pickard Ware. The publication is considered one of the best sources of slave songs. The couple’s son Philip was born in 1869, followed by their daughter, Katherine, in 1873. Garrison died on May 11, 1877, following a paralytic stroke at age 34. She is buried in Rosedale Cemetery in Orange, New Jersey.

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Here’s another great work about this great lady.

https://udayton.edu/magazine/2020/02/power-of-a-song-in-a-strange-land.php

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Laying down the tracks for the Liggins Legacy!

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CMdc94rHSuU/?igshid=1my9jvqrxqky7

Alfred Liggins, CEO, TV/RadioONE,https://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/alfred-liggins-iii announced a significant project to benefit Richmond, Virginia and beyond.

The celebration of our ancestor’s history begins right now with visionary folk. I can see and feel the future in African American economic, ecological, social, educational, health and wellness, et al.

Congrats to the principal visionary of this empire, Cathy Hughes!

She remains our Omaha, Nebraska native powerhouse!

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Watch 90+-year old Xi Xi Zeta Charter Member Share History on YouTube

March 16, 2021 marked our grad chapter’s 32nd anniversary. This retro video was recorded in 2019, Lithonia, Georgia.

My Legacy Soror Mom are among XiXiZeta’s founding. Listen, learn and love!


Here’s our history as scribed by Mom, Angie Wead and my Sister-Mom, Mary Martin-Blackmon.

FOUNDING FACTS:

ZETA PHI BETA SORORITY, INC

XI XI ZETA CHAPTER, LITHONIA, GEORGIA

MARCH 16, 1989

Soror Dove  Dr. Genova H. Lawrence saw a need to form a Zeta Phi Beta chapter in the Lithonia, Georgia area, when several women approached her with an interest in  becoming Zetas.  She had also met other graduate Sorors, who wanted to reclaim.  Shen then called a meeting at her home to organize a chapter, after she met for several months with prospective Sorors and graduate Sorors.  Note:  Soror Lawrence attended all Boule’s and met the five founders and three Sigmas (who assisted in the founding of the Sorority).

The Xi Xi Zeta Chapter was organized in 1988 and chartered on March 16, 1989 in Lithonia, Georgia by the Georgia State Director, Soror Bettye H. Shelling (Triumphant).  Chartering Sorors:  Dr Genova Lawrence, Veronica Lawrence-Bacote, Eula Hardiman, Ethel Chapman, Yvonne Mazyck.  Sorors immediately joining the chapter:  Sorors Josephine Cloud (Triumphant), Patricia Felder, Shirley Jefferson, Arlene Hawkins, Ann Kimbrough, and Angeline Wead.

The chapter reached out to the community and started the following programs:

            The African American Cultural History Club at Bruce Street Housing .  Three Sorors – Sorors Lawrence, Felder and Cloud knocked or rang forty doorbells to talk with occupants about the program, including:

  • An Archonian Club.
  • A tutorial program.
  • Chartered the Delta Xi Undergraduate chapter at DeVry of Technology on October 14, 1989.  sig Ann Kimbrough was the Dean of Pledges.  This chapter was later to the Kappa Psi Zeta sorority chapter.
  • Sponsored a Blue Revue Pageant in 1990.  5 scholarships and 15 awards were presented.

Page 2 – Xi Xi Zeta 30th Anniversary

  • A Saddler Club was organized with our youth group on Soror Lawrence’s Nova Glen farm.
  • Provided Thanksgiving Dinner, for several years, to the residents of Bethel A.M.E. Church Towers, assisted by Sigma Brothers – Rev. Joel Miles, Sr.(triumphant), Dr. Rufus Lawrence (triumphant, Brother Bruce Blackmon, and other volunteers.
  • Chapter Sorors have attended and/or contributed to all Georgia State Conferences, Regional Conferences, Boule’s and ZHope projects.
  • Participation/support in the annual Stork’s Nest Blitz, in March for Babies/March of Dimes, Relay for Life, community walks, and other community activities.
  • Representatives-Annual Founder’s Day Sigma/Zeta Brunch Committee

Chapter Basilei (1989 – Present):  Sorors Dr. Genova Lawrence, Dr. Angela Johnson, Angela Garrett (Triumphant), Deborah McClanahan, and Faye Rashid.

The chapter celebrated its 30th Anniversary with a Sisterhood Tea on March 16, 2019 at Soror/Dove Genova Lawrence’s home.  The event is presented on you tube, https://youtu.be/EqdH_xeq_lA

SCHOLARSHIP/SERVICE/SISTERHOOD/FINERWOMANHOOD

Submitted for all record-keeping by Sorors Angeline C. Wead and Mary Martin-Blackmon

Mom (Angie Wead) and me during the 2019 activities and photos.
Soror Mary Martin-Blackmon during a pre-COVID-19 activity with our chapter at her church in Lithonia, GA
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How preserving his family’s history led to Atlanta’s foremost architect and me writing his story …

Genealogy is a complicated, rewarding journey. Fortunately, my friend, the award-winning Atlanta Architect Oscar Harris, superbly retained the information about his parents who were black pioneer pharmacists and operated a historical shop in a famous black neighborhood in Pittsburgh, PA.

What may family genealogists learn from Oscar?

  • Preserve, don’t just save, your family’s current records.
  • Ask lots of questions of your elders and be observant.
  • Remember your friends, neighbors and relatives’ stories.
  • Plan to report or author your family’s story, especially through an autobiography.

Here’s another site where Oscar’s story is published. Since the book, Oscar!< was published in 2013, Oscar’s “retirement” career has been undone as he is often sought after for lectures, architecture leadership, media articles, teaching and other fun projects.

Working with Oscar to record his story, pour through thousands of documents, learn so much about a once shy young man’s overcoming nature, his wife gave me a great “warning” and words of advice: “Oscar loves the process,” Sylvia Harris informed me.

For that, I am thankful.

Below is an article written by my dear friend, Sidmel Estes, who transitioned a few years ago. She too was a friend of Oscar in addition to being a visionary and solid TV executive producer who created “Good Day Atlanta” on Fox5 and was the first female president of the National Association of Black Journalists.


Here’s another site where Oscar’s story is published. Since the book, Oscar!< was published in 2013, Oscar’s “retirement” career has been undone as he is often sought after for lectures, architecture leadership, media articles, teaching and other fun projects.

Oscar! A review and arts

By (the late) Sidmel Esteshttps

https://patch.com/georgia/cascade/oscar-harris-breaks-through-barriers

Few people can say they helped shape the look of a city. But Oscar L. Harris, Jr, founder and president of Turner Associates can make that claim. From Centennial Olympic Park to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, you can see the imprint of Oscar Harris. The new book, “Oscar! The Memoir of a Master Architect” takes you behind the scenes of crucial negotiations that opened the door for many minority architects and firms. It is no-olds barred account of what it took to break into one of the most exclusive professional circles…architecture. Many of the stories are not pretty and hard to take, but reflect the passion, aspirations and determination of a true artist who turned his creative energies into tangible works of beauty and substance.https://patch.com/georgia/cascade/oscar-harris-breaks-through-barriers

Oscar started his business at a time when African Americans were denied and insulted. With frankness and a proven track record, Turner Associates went from nothing to perhaps the most successful and diverse portfolio architectural firms in America. Oscar lays it all on the table as he gives insight into what it took to revitalize Underground Atlanta, re-build major government buildings and justice centers, retail centers, create “the look” of the 1996 Olympic Games and so much more.

Oscar offers a blueprint of what he envisions for the future to be able to turn  around in his profession in particular, but our society at large. The book also includes spectacular sketches, drawings and photographs of some of Oscar’s biggest accomplishments.

Sidmel Estes, owner of Break Through Media Consulting

Separately, here’s another link: https://butteratl.com/how-black-architect-oscar-harris-built-modern-atlanta/

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First black-owned AM/FM radio station was launched in my hometown …

You have to be somewhat of a detective to capture Black genealogy to share the best histories of our ancestors.

Omaha, Nebraska!

As we seek clues to establishing our black ancestry ties, always turn to the non-traditional sources such as this playlist from the nation’s first black-owned and operated radio station that was found in my hometown, KOWH-AM/FM.

Why?

This particular play list of February 1972 is more than a ranking of the top tunes among black radio listeners. It provides the first and last names, the titles and photos of the DJs and management involved in KOWH-AM/FM’s day-to-day operations.

There are a lot of themes and other nuisances associated with this playlist. For example, you can tell that there was a background sheet as the “Sound of Soul” and “Soul Men” are among the best placed graphics. The sheet was obviously placed in a typewriter as the strong impressions reveal the strength of the stroke keys.

You have to be somewhat of a detective to capture Black genealogy to share the best histories of our ancestors.


Family kudos: My Dad, Dr. Rodney S. Wead, was the initiator of KOWH-AM/FM. He was able to convince other folk to raise the $500K capital needed for the downpayment of the radio station in the early 1970s. The result was a world-class radio station that I loved.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Happy birthday to my (late) grandmother — born in the year of the last pandemic

On April 16, 1918, my grandmother, Helen Mary Wilks, was born in Springfield, Mo.

Today, on what would have been her 103rd birthday, I celebrate the lady who inspired me to travel the world (she traveled to Asia, Canada, Central America and more), appreciate the arts as a patron and actor, seamstress, could type faster than just about anyone I know, use “both sides of my brain” and never waste a crisis.

I learned much, much later that Mama Helen was a “Hidden Figure” in reference to the popular revelation of black women being human “brains” on the campus of NASA prior to and during the historic space flights. Mama Helen was such at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. It is the home to the nation’s underground city for U.S. presidents such as George Bush, Jr., who utilized it during the 9/11 attacks.

Mama Helen had style, beauty, grace, charm and intellect. What a role model, this mother of six children, grandmother of 18 and lots of great-great and great-great-great grandchildren. Her only brother was a popular dancer and he lost his life during the TB outbreak.

Happy birthday with the angels, Mama Helen!

Second from the left, Mama Helen is next to her daughter (my Mom), Angeline, to her left. To her right is Mama Helen’s mother, Edna Robinson and next to Grandma Robinson, is my oldest sister, Denise Michelle Wead Rawles. Photo was taken somewhere about 1973 in Omaha, Nebraska. Photographer unknown.
With husband, Eugene Gipson Owen, Jr., Mama Helen and Grandpa Owen are holding their firstborn and my 1-year-old mother, Angeline Cecil Owen in 1938.