To acknowledge our ancestors means we are aware that we did not make ourselves, that the line stretches all the way back, perhaps to God; or to Gods. We remember them because it is an easy thing to forget: that we are not the first to suffer, rebel, fight, love and die. The grace with which we embrace life, in spite of the pain, the sorrow, is always a measure of what has gone before.
I often wonder what African American descendants researching Slave Ancestry could learn about our Ancestors and heritage if descendants of every slave owning family shared their research data OR donated legacy documents to a repository for public consumption? What could we learn if our own families had preserved Great Grandma’s bible and funny childhood tales or shared freely the rare, coveted Ancestor photo or cloaked family “secret”?
When I visited Duke University Rubenstein Rare Document & Manuscript Library last November I *thought* I knew what to expect. I’d been hoping to touch the collection since discovering it online in 2009, so at least I knew what was “physically” there.
But how could I have known the shock and multitude of answers contained in Samuel WINGFIELD’s plantation ledger? Or known how much seeing and touching the names of my Ancestors branded on those ancient papers would mean to me?
Had it not been for Mrs. Alexander BAIRD’s August 1990 submission to Duke’s Special Collections Library, I’d never know the weight and financial yield of my WINGFIELD Ancestors labor or the names deserving to be called and brought home.
I still don’t know Mrs. BAIRD’s relationship to the WINGFIELDS. I don’t really care. It doesn’t matter. What does is that some 14 years ago she had the forethought to make sure history that’s irreplaceable could rest in a place dedicated to preservation.
I’ve begun talks with Spelman […]
Just realized the Spelman Seminary images from 1902 I cited in my 2009 post have now been absorbed into a larger Schomburg Collection – Progress of a race; or, The remarkable advancement of the American Negro from the bondage of slavery, ignorance and poverty, to the freedom of citizenship, intelligence, affluence, honor and trust.
Take a minute to checkout this reflective collection of the historic progress made by our amazing Ancestors.
Lest we forget.
- A Stitch In Time Saves Nine 1895 by Russell Bros – Schomburg NYPL Digital Collections
At the turn of the 20th century my Great Grandmother Annie CARTER JACKSON lived on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, GA with my GG Grandmother Marrie, and attended Spelman Seminary with her 2 sisters Fannie and Mattie Wee. As a little girl, I was blessed to hear of their antics at Spelman on many occasions!:)
Grandma JACKSON’s gift for delivering our oral history in the most hysterical fashion, was the catalyst for me. Her memories were where my love of family history took root and her devotion to family, is what anchors my commitment to preserving it.
As the family historian, I’ve spent 15 years unearthing our Georgia and Alabama heritage. I’ve inherited bibles, historic documents and rare family images from my maternal Grandparents and Mom, and through divine intervention, “acquired” the family bible of my paternal Great Grandmother COBB.
Over the past few years I’ve given MUCH thought to how my personal genealogy archive will be managed in the event of my passing. I’ve been trying to answer one simple but difficult question — what’s the BEST way to ensure my heritage is preserved and our data made accessible to other researchers?
As an advocate for digital preservation I’d considered both Ancestry.com and LDS owned Family Search, but in truth neither entity has earned my trust as a researcher of Slave Ancestry. I’m not convinced the digitization of African American history is a ‘true’ priority of either org and I know from personal […]
This week the world grieved the passing of Dr. Maya Angelou.
There were so many beautiful posts (checkout Michael Twitty), quotes and thoughts shared about Maya, I’d really not planned to post anything. I thought watching and reading the praise as it flowed, knowing what Maya Angelou’s transparency and pen meant to me, was enough.
I took in Maya’s charge to “just do right”, and shared it with my kids. Like everyone, I thought about how her life has gifted me and words anchored in my heart long ago.
Yet I still planned to keep quiet… like the freedom from shame Maya relieved me of so many years ago, was our secret.
But after reading “What Maya Angelou’s Past Can Teach the Feminists of the Future“, I felt I had to affirm writer Lauren Davidson’s assertion, that Maya Angelou’s darkest life moments were as inspiring and enlightening as her brightest and most celebrated accolades.
I was 18 years old when I first learned of and read Maya Angelou, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I had a BEAUTIFUL toddler, my firstborn Jerold (Jay) and was heading to nursing school, having just graduated with Honors.
In spite of the merit I earned by being a “good, young Mother” and […]
She called me her “Rock of Gibraltar”. She loved my lack of tact, chuckled at my acid humor and applauded EVERY hurdle this teenage Mother conquered to create a life she was proud of. Gerrie was my Champion!:)
BRILLIANT in every sense of the word. Mom was relentless, nurturing; an Innovator before we knew what that word even meant. Gerrie commanded attention and though only 5’2 she sparkled in ANY crowd. Boy was she something special!:)
Born 7/6 and 7/7 we were “two peas in a pod”. On my first Mother’s Day without her, I truly know how invaluable Mom was to me, her baby girl.
I believe “Sometimes Grandma” is Mom’s gift to me and the kids. I think she knew in our effort to heal others, we too would find healing and purpose.
Mom was the QUEEN of strategy and taking care of other people. Our Harmony St. Kids have her wrapped all around them!:)
So my gift to you Mama this Mother’s Day is to be…
- Relentless in my work to see an end to Alzheimer’s Disease. No standing on the sideline. I’m chin-deep in this FIGHT!
- Fearless in the face of the unknown and unplanned. Life catches us by surprise. I look FORWARD!
- Tenacious in defining a life on MY TERMS; I call the shots and choose the roads my feet travel.
- Brazenly, unbelievably HAPPY, HEALTHY and WHOLE as I figure out this new and unfamiliar world. I know you’re still […]
Laughing about the recent cemetery “adventure” of AAGSAR member Sandra WILLIAMS-BUSH (Ancestral Callings: Georgia & Mississippi), I was reminded of one the funniest family stories ever shared with me by my late Cousin, Johnnie Mae STRINGER LONG.
Mae was Elbert STRINGER’s younger sister, the daughter of Missy DORSEY and John STRINGER. Missy and my GG Grandmother, Marrie WINGFIELD CARTER were Sisters. All of the beautiful DORSEY and STRINGER images I have, came from Mae. Her facial features and voice were so much like that of my Great Grandmother Annie CARTER JACKSON (Mae and Elbert’s first cousin they referred to lovingly as “Baby Sister”), I would just stare at her. It was comforting to be in her presence.
I spent many afternoons with Mae scanning pictures, capturing history and laughing about her fear of ghosts and spirits.
My favorite Mae story?
According to Mae, she’d always been the scary type. When she was a teen she and Elbert would visit Grandma Catie’s grave at Westview Cemetery in Atlanta.
Mae told me when Grandma Catie died, her son John “Bud” WINGFIELD and cousin Harry HECTOR carried a huge boulder via wagon from Washington-Wilkes to place on Catie’s Grave.
Well when they arrived for one visit the boulder had disappeared – sunken COMPLETELY in the ground! On top of Grandma Catie’s grave! And when they attempted to investigate further, Elbert and Mae began to sink into soft earth!
Mae said the calmer Elbert got, the more hysterical she became! Mae said […]
When the #DangerousBlackKids Viral Revolution sparked by our Dream Defenders fades from our socially-conscious side-eye, I want to remember we were there to engage and partake of its relevance and ABSOLUTE beauty!
Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and Friends took to Twitter in mass on February 16-17 following the Jordan Davis/Michael Dunn Trial verdict to show America just who our brown and black children REALLY are!
And let me tell you, NEVER has the Twittersphere — black or white — been in such silent-awe and NEVER have our kids shined brighter!:)
No need for me even to attempt to define Black Twitter, when Soraya Nadia McDonald of the Washington Post did it so splendidly!:
Black Twitter is part cultural force, cudgel, entertainment and refuge. It is its own society within Twitter, replete with inside jokes, slang and rules, centered on the interests of young blacks online — almost a quarter of all black Internet users are on […]