TALIAFERRO FLASHBACK: A Call To Action For African American Researchers ~ 2 March 2010

Original post: 2 March 2010 Sandra TALIAFERRO of I Never Knew My Father (archived)

My friend Luckie Daniels of Our Georgia Roots, has written another thought provoking Monday Madness post, this time to the African American Genealogy Community – Madness Monday: The Digital Divide Revisited ~ Tough Love For The African-American Genealogy Community.  After commenting on Luckie’s post, I realized I had actually written my next post.  Yes, I could have let that suffice, but I felt I needed to show my support for and belief in Luckie’s position here on my blog.  So often, we sit back in the amen corner bowing our heads up and down in agreement, but never speak-up and take a stance. I wanted to echo Luckie’s sentiments. My comment to her did that, and posting it here reiterates it. There needs to be some serious changes in the African American genealogy community; those changes need to occur sooner, rather than later before we are standing in the shadows as the online genea-community moves forward.

Thank you Luckie for a very timely and long overdue post.  How sad it was to hear people who have been researching their family history for years stand up in a meeting and ask for help, but they are not on the internet, don’t like, won’t do it. There are so any resources out there, and many connections to make, but you won’t find them in your living room or in the archives.  Genealogy is changing, and the African American community of researchers must change with it. And, it’s not only in genealogy. As another comment so appropriately pointed out, we are missing a wealth […]

FLASHBACK: They Served With Honor: Tuskegee Airman LeRoy Eley Sr. Offers Lessons For A Lifetime! {5.15.10}

LeRoy EleyOriginal Tuskegee Airman, Mr. LeRoy E. Eley Sr., is nothing short of amazing!

Born May 30, 1927 and the baby of the bunch at almost 83 years young, Mr. Eley is EVERYTHING you would expect a Tuskegee Airman to be — distinguished, proud and fast on his feet!:-) He is disarmingly charming and witty, and easily captivated the attention of some 60+ 4th grade students, teachers, parents and genea-guests.

For every 1 question answered — 10 more hands flew up! I was floored by Mr. Eley’s ability to recount even the most minute historical detail and surprised that right along with the students, I too received an history lesson! I’d never heard of the Red Tail Pilots!

Those blessed to be in the room were provided an insiders view of history, complete with stories and memories that only he and his elite Fraternity of Tuskegee Airmen Brothers can truly recount.

To Justis’ question of which was more challenging — fighting in the war or enduring racism in the military, he responded honestly — BOTH. Mr. Eley shared how when the servicemen traveled abroad to fight, they remained segregated — unable to fight together even in the face of a common enemy!

When asked by a young lady to describe the feeling of flying a plane, Mr. Eley just smiled, responding there was nothing in the world like it!

Indeed, aviation is Mr. Eley’s passion. Since volunteering for the USAAF at the age of 17 (assigned to Class 46-D at […]

Wordy Wednesday: Annie, Minnie & Fannie, The JACKSON Ladies

Jacksons ~ Annie, Minnie, FannieI love this picture of my Great-Grandmother, Annie CARTER JACKSON {1898 – 1981} with her Daughters, my Great Aunt Minnie (still living) and my Grandmother, Fannie Louella aka Anbownes {1920 – 1992}.

I adore the Church Sister hats, and Aunt Minnie’s diva pose (that’s so her!:-). They are standing in Winton Terrace, the housing projects where my Grandma lived and where I have many a sweet memory from. Grandma was my babysitter until I began Kindergarten!:-)

What’s the occasion? I have no clue. Easter Sunday? Church service at Allen Temple AME? Eastern Star gathering?

Each of these JACKSON SHEros holds a special place in my heart and I miss them more than a dozen Wordy Wednesdays can capture.


FLASHBACK: 2nd Edition ~ Carnival of African-American Genealogy: Grandma’s Hand ~ Memories of Lena Mae McKENZIE BARWICK {4.4.10}

Lena McKENZIE BARIWCKTo this day, My Great Grandmother, Lena Mae McKENZIE BARWICK is the gentlest, sweetest woman I’ve ever known.

Born 9 March 1902 in Lewisville, Alabama to Ella Mae MARTIN and Joseph James McKENZIE, I remember most her deep faith in God and her ability to quote biblical scripture at will.

I still chuckle at the thought of returning to Cincinnati in 1995 with a severe Caesar cut (yes — I’d shaved all the curls down to a barely visible shadow), and being informed by my Grandma that there was no shame in a wig — God would respect my crown anyway he could get it!:-)

I still marvel at the strength both of my Great Grandmothers possessed. Both survived poverty and less than easy Husbands, yet remained steadfast in God and Family. Never appearing to waiver.

Like most of the Barwick/McKenzie women, Grandma was blessed with long-life, transitioning on 11 March 2002, at the age of 100 years old.

The poem below, was written by my older Brother, William, for her 100th Birthday and was read at her Home Going Service.

How timely that it would be presented here today on this Sentimental Easter Sunday 2010, as my Barwick timestamp for Grandma’s Hand…

I think about my Grandma
and I think of loving hands,
Two hands that do their best
to carry out the Lord’s commands…
Two hands that clap in joy fullness
while she joins in a song,
Two hands that hug and comfort,
as she passes love along…
Two hands that are my Grandma’s
that have always done their part
To spread the love of Jesus,
so abiding in her heart.
I think about you. Grandma,
and I see a gentle model of the kind
of […]

FLASHBACK: 2nd Edition ~ Carnival of African-American Genealogy: Grandma’s Hand ~ I’ll Fly Away, Memories of Annie CARTER JACKSON {4.2.10}

Annie CARTER JACKSONIt was only after the 1981 passing of my Great Grandmother, Annie CARTER JACKSON (1898-1981), that I came to understand the depth of her presence in our family — she was truly the glue that held everyone and everything in place.

Grandma Jackson was everything a Grandmother should be ~ patient, wise, sweet and nurturing. Part of the reason I’ve been challenged in the quest to overcome my java-habit, is because as a child, Grandma Jackson would prepare me a very weak cup of hot tea with milk to make me think I was sharing a cup of coffee with her!

To this day, when I need comfort, I retreat to a cup of coffee and it pulls me back to a time when life was much simpler and I was surrounded by a clan of loving women.

Grandma Jackson was also known for her infamous Washington-Wilkes sayings, that though funny on the surface, carried very true meanings. Ironic how I still find myself quoting these in my daily life! My favorite Annie Saying is “A cow will need his tail to fan flies for more than one summer.”, which meant – don’t worry if someone does you wrong, they will soon need you again!

I can still remember Grandma’s long silver hair that she allowed me to style endlessly, hanging clothes on the line in her backyard in one of her favorite house-coats, wrapping her hand around my neck, with her tongue between her teeth, to braid my hair and bathing a tiny me in her kitchen sink.

The hymns she hummed constantly — at the most unexpected […]

FLASHBACK: A Friend of Friends {AFoF}: Repository of Slave Records & Related Information {3.21.10}

A Friend of FriendsIn the days following my Feb. 8 genea-community call to action, it became apparent that once the exchange of slave records and related information began, a community resource was needed to collect the data being shared and to facilitate its dissemination to the broader research community.

The decision to create a web portal to support the descendants exchange came easily, and after a brief brainstorming of possible names, so did the final naming convention — A Friend of Friends (AFoF).

Like many, I was inspired by the sentiments shared by Sandra Taliaferro’s A Friend of Friends: Lessons From The Underground Railroad blog post and after settling on the name, quickly enlisted the help of my friend San in the effort to get AFoF online!

In its simplest form, AFoF is a medium for Friends of Friends to share data and information with descendants researching slave ancestry, as we work to free our Ancestors memories and names from a lost and oft times buried, history.

In truth, African-American Ancestors for the most part, have not been fully emancipated yet. They will not be FREE until their names are known and their stories told.

AFoF is a community vehicle. It is very likely you will find information posted to AFoF appearing in the repository of LowCountry Africana, on the message boards of AfriGeneas or […]

FLASHBACK: Open Letter To Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Dear Dr. Gates,

By way of Twitter, via a Rob Stanhope {aka @MaineRoots} *tweet*, I discovered the online magazine of which you are Editor-In-Chief this morning – The Root, and have spent the last hour or so, reading and taking in 50 Years of Black History.

In 2010, we the descendants of emancipated slaves, really live in an amazing place and time!

A time where we have the opportunity to offer our perspective freely, in the format of our choosing. A time where our collective and individual voice matters. A time when we can turn on the TV and show our sons and daughters the face of a President who looks just like them — and many, MANY other honorable, successful, brown Americans along with him.

Albeit far from perfect, to a large degree, this is the day our Ancestors prayed and hoped for. A day that presented opportunity.

Greensboro sit inI think only when you view a retrospective like 50 Years of Black History do you realize how far as a people we’ve traveled and to what degree our Ancestors and Freedom Liberators fought to allow us to live as we do today.

I’ve followed your work for many years Dr. Gates, and while I respect your achievements in education, it is your ability to rebirth long forgotten and/or lost genealogical histories, that I most admire. You skillfully piece together lineage that has been broken and offer Ancestors redemption — you restore their rightful place in our history and […]