#17 Did you know about the little-known African American community that formed in Weed, California?

June 7, 2021, is the 14-year aniversary of Weed Union Elementary School teacher James Langford’s retirement. Langford is significant to Weed’s African American heritage because he insisted on that history being taught in the schools. He also wrote a thesis about the 1920s migration and related progress in the small northern California city. Langford arrived in Weed, California about a half-century after the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the Western states, particularly California.

Weed, California with Mt. Shasta in the background

Langford also co-wrote and produced a documentary about Weed’s African American community. https://vimeo.com/31221465

The documentary’s promotion: “From the Quarters to Lincoln Heights tells the story of how a large African-American population in the small northern California towns of Weed, Mc Cloud, Mt Shasta and Dunsmuir came to root themselves in such an unlikely place. Migrating from the southern US in the 1920’s they came to work in some of the world’s largest lumber mills. The film explores how these unique communities of African Americans thrived in these multi-racial rural towns. This film presents this little known history, revealing the early inter-racial relationships that existed in Northern California.”

From BlackPast website

In the following article, James Langford, the first black teacher in Weed, briefly describes the history of the African American community there.  Langford, who graduated from California State University at San Francisco with an elementary teaching credential in the spring of 1974, began teaching at the Weed Union Elementary School on August 28, 1974.  He retired on June 7, 2007,  after thirty-three years.

It was June, 1923, when five young Black men set out in a Model T Ford from Broken Bow, Oklahoma, to a small town in northern California.  They were following the sounds of promise they had heard in the words of a young hobo, recently returned from a trip to the West Coast.  He told of a better life for Black people in this burgeoning lumber town.  “He said there was a mountain right there close to Weed you’d see snow the year round.”  These are the words of Danny Piggee, describing how he first heard of Weed, the town he was to live in for the next thirty-seven years.  “Weed was a miracle for Black people for work.”

When he and his cousin, Jim Hopkins, and their three companions  reached Weed at noon on June 19, 1923, after fourteen and a half days on the road, they ate dinner, went to the hiring office of Weed Lumber Company, then to the Weed Hospital for health checks, and started work the next morning.  A common laborer in the Weed mill was paid $3.60 for eight hours.  Piggee went to work taking down lumber on the yard with D. Grant, one of his Oklahoma companions, as his partner.  Because Grant had previous experience in this contract work, Piggee made over $5.00 the first day he worked.  As he thought to himself at the time, “Boy, I oughta been here for years back.”  In describing the town of Weed as it was in 1923, he said, “You could just almost pick your jobs when I came here.  And it was a lotta, lotta Black folks here.”

One thousand African-Americans lived in Weed by the mid-1920s, when the town’s population reached over six thousand.  In 1922, R. A. Long of Long-Bell Lumber Company had assumed complete ownership of the Weed Lumber Company.  The exodus of Black lumbermen from the South, triggered by R. A. Long, had begun with Nate Henderson’s arrival in Weed in 1918, with his nephew, William Wardlow.  Henderson, from Louisiana, was hired by Long-Bell to recruit workers in the South.  Walter Sexton, the first superintendent of the Weed plant under Long-Bell Lumber Company, was responsible for recruiting the largest number of Black workers from the South.  According to Rev. E. A. Mellon and Tommy Tyler (two long-time African-American residents), Sexton came to Weed from the Long-Bell operations in Louisiana in the early 1920’s.  He knew who the most trusted workers were, and tried to recruit the “cream of the crop.”  Mr. Sexton, on behalf of Long-Bell, paid the $89.00 train fare from Louisiana to Weed.  Most of the first Blacks to come to Weed were displaced workers from Long-Bell’s operations at De Ridder and Longville, in Louisiana.  After the men had made enough money in their new jobs, they repaid the company and sent back money to Louisiana so that relatives and friends could join them in Weed.  The general manager of the Weed operation from 1918 to 1948, Mr. J. M. “Jude” White, although he was not from Long-Bell’s Southern mills, is also given credit for opening up job opportunities in Weed for Black workers.

What kind of town awaited these first African-American migrants from the South?  Gertrude Price Wardlow, who arrived in 1920 from Louisiana via Oakland, California, describes the northwest corner of the town where the Blacks settled as nothing but snow-covered hills, with one dirt street.  The houses along this street, Railroad Avenue, were the first group of houses built in Weed.  They had been moved from the original site just north of Abner Weed’s first sawmill.  A few other houses were located northwest of Railroad Avenue, but there were no other defined streets.  Because of the housing shortage, Gertrude and her husband, Andrew Price, stayed at the boarding house when they first arrived.  This boarding house, located near the corner of Railroad Avenue and Lincoln Avenue, housed the single Black men who had come to work in Weed.  Because of the crowded conditions at the boarding house, the Weed Lumber Company “gave my husband a good price” for a house so that he and Gertie could board some of the men.

When Danny Piggee arrived in 1923, there were thirty-five or forty single men staying at the boarding house, paying $1.10 a day for room and board.  It was then known as the “Berryhill Hotel,” after Dan and Ella Berryhill, who had operated it since 1921.  When the boarding house was first built, Weed Lumber Company hired Nate Henderson to run it.  In 1920, when Mrs. Wardlow arrived, a couple named Jackson, from Oroville, California, was running it.  Since the Berryhills operated it until their deaths in the late 1940’s, when their niece took over until 1953, the boarding house is simply referred to as The Berryhill.  By 1923 there were company-built houses on Dixie, Texas, and Alabama Avenues.  Tent Street came into existence in 1924 when over-crowding prompted the company to bring in tents as temporary dwellings for Black families.  These tents were brought in from Tennant.  In the words of Mrs. Wardlow, “people started putting foundations around [the tents] and this ‘n’ that until they lived in them.”

Throughout the 1920s, as African-American families continued to arrive in Weed, they built houses on land leased from the company.  Long-Bell Lumber Company managed Weed as a residentially segregated, company-owned town.  And the first African-Americans to arrive from the South, accustomed to segregation since birth, occupied their designated corner of the town, known as “The Quarters.”  Willie Wardlow (Gertrude’s second husband), in a 1966 interview, recalls: “We used to see a For Rent sign, and when we asked, you know what they’d tell us?  They’d say, ‘We only rent to Americans.’ “ [The nearby town of McCloud had a similar demographic make-up.  According to an article in the 1997 Siskiyou Pioneer by Ray Ebbe, “McCloud, shortly after World War 1, had a population of over 500 colored people.”  The McCloud River Lumber Company, known as Mother McCloud owned the town.]

Some changes in this picture began after International Paper Company, based in New York City, bought out Long-Bell Lumber Company in 1956.  IP was not interested in running Weed as a company town.  They elected to sell the houses to the residents at a reasonable cost.  Soon after the city was incorporated in 1961, a group of concerned citizens from the African-American community met to change the name of their residential section from “The Quarters” to “Lincoln Heights,” and to rename those streets originally named after Southern states.

The national Civil Rights movement inevitably found its way to Weed. Amidst such racial upheaval, Weed’s NAACP chapter became quite active. Between 1955 and 1958, local Black residents staged sit-ins at Weed’s segregated eating establishments. The Log Cabin Hotel had a sign on the premises reading “We cater to whites only.”  The Weed Mercantile soda fountain and the Weed Theater fountain were among targeted sit-ins.  All establishments eventually complied with desegregation.

The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) organized a chapter in Weed on June 5, 1966.  That summer CORE members staged boycotts at Weed’s Safeway store, Harold Chaney’s Weed Mercantile, Medo-Bel Creamery, and United California Bank.  The object of these demonstrations was an economic one—to have these local employers hire Blacks in a capacity other than clean-up.  A year after the 1966 summer campaigns, CORE leaders held a convention at the Mt. Shasta Baptist Church social hall and the Black Hawk Tavern, concluding that only token integration had been achieved.  Its tenure may have been short, its tangible accomplishments few, but the deep-seated desire that Siskiyou County residents settle down to a great deal of soul-searching was undoubtedly  accomplished by the confrontation tactics of CORE.  The protests were justified and progress definitely came from the risks that were taken.

By the time I arrived in Weed in 1974 there were approximately 500 African Americans out of a total population of 3,600.  The 1970 census figures for Weed show a 14 percent black population, while 1980 figures show a 13 percent Black population.  This percentage compares to a nationwide Black population of 11.3 percent reported by the 1980 census.  In 1970, only 2.1 percent of Siskiyou County’s population was Black, while 1980 figures indicate a Black population of only 1.5 percent.  Census figures for the year 2000 show that Weed’s population has declined to 2,978 people with 9.3 percent Black.  In other words, Weed has maintained a vital African American community for nearly one hundred years.

Weed’s African American community has changed with the flow of forces affecting the town.  The closing of International Paper Company in 1982 had the most profound effect on the community at large.  Strong family ties and the healthy rural surroundings have surely been factors in the desire of Weed’s residents to persevere in the face of economic hardships.  My wife, Kathleen, and I raised our four children here.  They all went through the Weed school system, and have gone on to successful adult lives.  We have lived on our forested five acres on the outskirts of Weed for 29 years. Here, I am able to indulge my lifelong passion for animal husbandry.   Having taught and coached two generations of Weed’s children, I enjoy my respected status that seems to come with the title of “Mr. Langford.” It was indeed a fortunate decision I made in 1974 when I answered the call of the African American community of Weed, California, to become their first Black teacher, to live in the shadow of  Mt. Shasta…that mountain, right there close to Weed, where you see snow the year round.SUBJECTS:African American HistoryPerspectivesTERMS:20th Century (1900-1999)United States – CaliforniaGovernment-Local-Black Community


#16 Keep digging: Special find for a young genealogist

St. Louis, Mo. TV Newsman Damon Arnold was fortunate to find fantastic info about his ancestor.

I am proud of Damon locating a mentally and physically strong former slave who became a Civil War vetetan. His fighting did not end there. Damon’s great-great-great grandfather also fought gallantly to receive his pension.

Read on and learn more. Damon is just at the tip of major findings. You, too, can find great family heirlooms in those old records. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=3928137097300889&id=100003139113342


#15 Happy Trails along the Park Service’s sites honoring African American heritage

There are several trails that have not been traveled by us due in part to the global shutdown of U.S. Park Service sites and just about every organization during the 2020-21 COVID-19 pandemic.

As the rolling openings are underway, it’s time to discover the 17 U.S. Park sites that honor our African American ancestors. For a hint, check out this Black Genealogy blog, https://weadwriteawaygoodgenes.com/2021/06/04/buffalo-soldiers-black-ancestors-were-the-worlds-first-park-rangers/

Have some fun while you are still at home or in anothe remote site and planning your post-COVID getaway. This grouping of pictures that I gleaned from one of my favorite websites, are just the beginning of your adventure. Try to identify the pictures below that are courtesy of the National Park Service.


#14 Lest we forget: Digging up the facts about Decoration Day, first celebrated on May 1, 1865

Step-by-step guide on how to get to the truth and improve everyone’s ancestry facts

  • When was the first Decoration Day ceremony held? 1865 or 1868?
  • Who was present at that sacred ceremony? Three thousand black school children, northern missionaries and mutual aid societies … or … Southern white women.
  • How much pre-work was completed prior to the first Decoration Day and by whom? Graves of nearly 300 Union soliders who died at a horrific Confederate camp were dug up and relocated into single graves at a more peaceful site … or … a declaration by a U.S. General.
  • Why was a Decoration Day created? To celebrate the war dead with decorations on graves of soliders, parades and other commenorative celebrations.

There is a dual history remembrance of the very day set aside to remember our fallen comrades to war.

On May 1, 1865, following the construction of the newly built cemetery, the largest commemoration took place with a parade of nearly 10,000 people, led by a group of 3,000 Black school children. The processional led to the cemetery where everyone came together, both Black and white, and listened to the melancholy voices of the children’s choir and scripture readings. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Or did the following occur to establish the first “memorial” to our war dead?

From: https://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/memday/history.asp

Local Observances Claim To Be First Local springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various places. One of the first occurred in Columbus, Miss., April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well.”

Question #1 for genealogists: Who started the tradition of decorating graves with flowers and when?

Clubhouse at the race course where Union soldiers were held prisoner. Civil war photographs, 1861-1865, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Special thanks to Time.

Here’s what is generally known about what has become Memorial Day:

Here’s what happened at the Confederate prison camp in Charleston, S.C.: https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/may-30/. Three years after the first marking of Decoration Day, the U.S. General changed the narrative to mark it as a national holiday with traditions taken from the earlier years.

Question #2 for genealogists: Check out the facts and determine which year is the origination?

In 1865, 28 black workmen re-buried all (Black and Caucasian) Unioin soliders in individual graves. Prints and Photographs Collection, Library of Congress.

Or is this the first Decoration Day? https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/may-30/

Question #3 for our genealogists: Check out the facts and figure out how the narratives are blended so that all is true.

From Wikipedia:

“On May 11865, in Charleston, South Carolina, recently freed African-Americans held a parade of 10,000 people to honor 257 dead Union soldiers, whose remains they had reburied from a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp.”

How your family ancestry aids in merged narrative

  • Check and re-check the historical research that is present on our ancestry sites. After review, correct, adjust and all with integrity.
  • Write the established websites that I have included in this blog and others. For instance, the U.S. Government has existing information that is in direct conflict with the real Decoration Day-turned Memorial Day.
  • U.S. citizens are asked to pause at 3 p.m., Monday, May 31, 2021, for three minutes to commenorate all those who died in miitary conflict. There were many were died at some level of domestic battles that were not provoked by them.
  • Please also remember these folk, our ancestors from all creeds and ethnic backgrounds. Lest we forget Tulsa, Oklahoma; Omaha, Nebraska, ElaineU.S. citizens are asked to pause at 3 p.m., Monday, May 31, 2021, for three minutes to commenorate all those who died in miitary conflict.
  • Enjoy Memorial Day for its true value in this great nation.


#13 How to learn off-court genealogy lessons from on-the-court play

Check out my other blog that I just posted http://weadwriteawaygoodgenes.com/2021/05/23/the-net-result-of-104-years-of-black-women-in-tennis-slowe-serve-to-turnbough/. It provides the linkage between historical and current actitivites on the tennis courts. involving black athletes.

Here’s how to transfer play into pay. In this example, the “play” is tennis. The “pay” is the pay off in historical, sometimes ancestral connections between former days and now.

Pay to Play tips:

  • Learn and study the present-day recreational and hobby activities of family members;
  • Participate in their favorite activities or show interest and become a great spectactor;
  • Become an equally great noteaker, visual recorder of your family member’s activities;
  • At the same time, begin the historical research about the same or similar activities;
  • Begin to connect the dots with the historical linkages to the present activities of your family and friends; and
  • Write your story, record your story or share your results to individuals who otherwise may not know the history as they witness the future.

Enjoy your research and publishing as much as I did when I researched the history of Black tennis in the U.S.

Photographs by Ann Lineve Wead Kimbrough, May 22, 2021


#12 Genealogy 101 Tip: How to begin your basic, 4 generational research

One of the most often comments I receive from individuals wishing to learn more about their ancestors is something like this:

“I don’t know much or anything about my relatives on my mother’s (or father’s) side.”

“Genealogy research is too time consuming.”

I understand.

Step One

Build your tree by placing your full name (ladies: Please include your maiden name and place the married surname in parantheses) on the single line. That information is placed on the left side of this form:

Next, if you know your parents’ full names, follow the same instructions as above. Be sure to list the full names and that includes all previous marriages (if applicable) on the line

If you do not fully know either or both of your parents, and/or if you are adopted, record the information that your know.

Next, do the same for your grandparents and great-grandparents.

In all, write what you know. It will lead to questions that may or may not be answered by living relatives, friends, neighbors, clergy and other sources.

Whatever you build, do not discard it as it will serve as your foundational beginnng to a long and wonderful detective hunt for your family.


What about the Sons and Daughters of the U.S. Middle Passage?

If you are like me and have ties to African American and/or Afro Caribbean ancestry — even a smidget — you are likely a candidate for membership in this great organization: Sons & Daughters of the United States Middle Passage.

Take the time to learn more about historical events involving our special category of ancestors. We devote at leat five hours per week to researching and learning more about Black genealogy.

Start right here with this conference. It begins Frday, May 21, 2021 at 5:45 p.m. EDT. Welcome to the annual conference!

For more information about the Friday-Saturday conference, check out its event page. Be sure to register and also consider adding a donation:


Friday, May 21, 2021 at 5:45 PM EDT
Saturday, May 22, 2021 at 6:00 PM EDT
Add to Calendar


This is an online event. You must register to receive the link to program.  Space is limited.  Register now.


Dr. Evelyn A. McDowell 
Sons & Daughters of the U.S. Middle Passage 
email: info@sdusmp.org

Join My Mailing List

2021 Annual Conference and

Annual Award Ceremony

On Friday, May 21, we will hold our 5th annual awards ceremony. We honor the work of individuals who helped us, through their service and research, remember and commemorate the estimated 10 million people who were enslaved in the United States and colonial Engish America. Our keynote speaker will be Nicka Sewell-Smith, and our networking event will follow the awards ceremony.  

On Saturday, May 22, we hold our 4th annual conference. This year we have over 18 presentations, including “ancestor poster sessions,” a networking/gaming event, and service and book awards. Nicka Swell-Smith will be our plenary speaker before we break into three breakout rooms. In those rooms, we will hear over 10 presentations throughout the day. At lunchtime, we will cook with Chef Keesha O’Galdez and hear a presentation from genealogist Andre Kerns. There will be a business meeting for members of the organization after the conference.  

Other speakers include Bernice Bennett, Ric Murphy, Rahkia Nance, Margo Lee Williams, and Yvette LaGonterie. See our conference website for complete information about events and bios of our speakers.  

More Information

Please visit our conference website for full information about the conference.

Consider a Donation

Please conside a donation to help us fullfil our mssion and to defray the cost of programing.  We are grateful for any amount.  SDUSMP is a 501(3), charitable  organization and all donations are tax-exempt.  We are a 100% volunteer organization and all of your donation goes directly into furthering our mission.  Just go to www.paypal.me/sdusmp and make your contribution.  Thank you in advance.  Register Now!


#11 Genealogy TipSheet: Don’t forget the Potter’s fields

It is a tough lick when one cannot locate a relative whom we know existed, yet is not “findable.” In genealogy research, we refer to such situations as brick walls.

One tool to help chip away at those walls are found in places that we may driven past a hundred times. In my home state of Nebraska, and especially in Omaha, I turned to the Potter’s Field to locate the individuals who are missing from all final records https://www.noiseomaha.com/news-now/2020/10/28/potters-field-historical-marker-dedication-honors-those-laid-to-rest.

The reference in the Bible to the Potter’s House https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/jeremiah-18/has many meanings. In relation to the Potter’s Field in Nebraska and in many locations around the globe, the person working pottery never abandoned a lump of clay just because of its imperfections. Instead, it worked it via a wheel or by hand to mold it into something good.

Looking for a relative who may have been forgotten? Check your local and state records as more individuals are being identified and in some cases, relocated to different burial sites.


#9 Tribute for a new ancestor: Take note on how to write a resolution to honor a loved one

I had the honor of working with a fine man, William Durant, during my tenure as Director, Fulton County (Atlanta, GA) Government’s Information and Public Affairs Department. That was several years ago. From time to time, I wonder what became of Bill and a few other fine co-workers from various career appointments that I was fotunate to hold.

Last year, I “found” Bill. My cousin, Mark Owen, and I noticed his name and image in a newlsetter of a then-new organization we joined, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc. Metro Atlanta Chapter (AAHGS) We were elated as Mark and I had wonderful memories of working with Bill.

Today, I received a sad notice that his Bill’s mother has passed. I intend to send Bill and his family a bereaement acknowledgement. What I appreiate about the anouncement is that it included a bio of his mother as presented in a proclamation by the South Carolina legislature.

How Roberta Dannelly Durant is still teaching us an important lesson

For budding or longtime genealogists, note the writing capture about the honored life of of Mrs. Durant. The resolution is a textbook example of how to present someone’s life to those who knew her and others of us who did not know this historic lady.

South Carolina General Assembly
122nd Session, 2017-2018

Download This Bill in Microsoft Word format

Indicates Matter Stricken
Indicates New Matter

H. 5344


House Resolution
Sponsors: Reps. Alexander and Henegan
Document Path: l:\council\bills\rm\1392cz18.docx

Introduced in the House on May 1, 2018
Adopted by the House on May 1, 2018

Summary: Roberta Dannelly Durant


     Date      Body   Action Description with journal page number
    5/1/2018  House   Introduced and adopted (House Journal-page 55)

View the latest legislative information at the website


(Text matches printed bills. Document has been reformatted to meet World Wide Web specifications.)



Whereas, the members of the South Carolina House of Representatives are pleased to learn that Roberta Dannelly Durant of Florence is marking three quarters of a century as a dedicated member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (AKA), the nation’s first sorority established by African-American women; and

Whereas, born in Bishopville the sixth of seven children, she graduated in 1940 from Mathers Academy in Camden; and

Whereas, in 1943, the young Roberta pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Beta Sigma Chapter, at what was to become South Carolina State College, from which she graduated in 1944 with a bachelor’s degree in business education; and

Whereas, as a new teacher, she taught at Carver Elementary School in Florence. During that first year in the classroom, she taught thirty third-grade students, being determined to touch each one every day. She retired after more than thirty years as an educator; and

Whereas, on March 8, 1952, Roberta Durant became one of seventeen charter members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Epsilon Chi Omega Chapter, in Florence. She has been a member of AKA for seventy-five years and is now a Diamond Member of the sorority, which she has served as president, financial secretary, and parliamentarian. In addition, she has served on a number of committees, among them the By-laws, Cotillion, Health, and Family and Friends Day committees, the latter as chair. She also has directed plays presented in the community by the sorority; and

Whereas, a woman of faith, Mrs. Durant serves her God at Cumberland United Methodist Church (UMC). Past and present service for the church includes the following: member and president of the Cumberland Organization of United Methodist Women, district treasurer of the United Methodist Women, chair of both the Cumberland UMC Finance Committee and Stewardship Committee, director of the Methodist Youth Fellowship Program, first den mother for the Cumberland Boy Scouts, Bible study coordinator, Sunday School teacher, and team leader for the Nurture/Class Leader Committee; and

Whereas, Roberta Durant believes strongly in personal involvement with her community, and her convictions have led her to serve that community, as well as the broader community of South Carolina and beyond, in several capacities. These include membership on the Florence County Disabilities & Special Needs Board, in the National Council of Negro Women and Pelican House Board for Light House Ministries, and volunteer service for the Duke Foundation. In the 1980s, she served as a member of the Election Commission for the City of Florence, and in 1981 she was one of the appellants in a court case argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals to place attorney Mordecai Johnson on the city council ballot by petition; and

Whereas, the South Carolina House of Representatives is grateful for Roberta Durant’s life of service and her remarkable legacy, and the members commend her for seventy-five years of devoted membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha, Incorporated. Now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the House of Representatives:

That the members of the South Carolina House of Representatives, by this resolution, recognize and honor Roberta Dannelly Durant of Florence and congratulate her as she celebrates seventy-five remarkable years as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be presented to Roberta Dannelly Durant.—-XX—-

This web page was last updated on May 31, 2018 at 4:51 PM


Generational Love: Happy Birthday, Aunt Marjorie!

  • She is a ball of fun-fire!
  • Two weeks ago, she told me that she doesn’t like her first name — Nannie — although she is named for her grandmother, Nannie Bradley.
  • GrandAunt Marjorie said COVID-19 severly cut out her interaction with folk. She was the recreation center leader on so many activities.
  • Visiting her? I had to put on my roller skates.
  • She is the mother of Carolyn and Charles, her surviving children. Last year, her son — my cousin — Donnie and his wife died from COVID-19.

Wish Aunt Marjorie a very happy birthday by subscribing to our blog. More details to come about the online, 101 Black Family Genealogy courses.


#8 Learning more about slavery … ancestry

We are members of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc. Metro- Atlanta Chapter and one of its tremendous benefits is its notification of great events.

Check out this virtual event: April 30 and May 1, 2021 … you don’t want to miss this!


Photo by Clement Eastwood on Pexels.com

#7 Want to improve your family’s genealogy searches? Start right where you are

The not-so secret to becoming a fantastic family genealogy researcher starts with you.

The more that I pour through records in search of even the tiniest of information related to a long-lost relative, I focus on how much easier it would be if I knew more about their lives. Sadly, for those of us with brown-colored relatives, the historical documents are likely long ago destroyed, never recorded, not ever respected and typically not in the same places as our European and related counterparts.

This is often my manta. Yet, I love the payoff of good research results about my family and that of our clients.

Here are my tips on how to look ahead to building the type of information that will help future family researchers. After all, one day we will become ancestors to the ages.

What would you like for your descendants to know about you? This is your opportunity to provide the facts and other interesting information about you to preserve records that otherwise may be hard for them to locate.

I recommend the following:

  • Record your birth date, location, time, day of the week and any other factoids from your historic arrival on this earth.
  • Record all of your legal names, including nicknames. For instance, my “government name” is Ann Lineve. My nickname is “Nieve.”
  • List your parents’ and grandparents’ information that includes the aforementioned information. Make sure that your records are accurate. That is, sometimes we ask our parents questions and they may or may not know all of their birth, etc. facts. That’s where your research skills come in. Compare the results you locate with what your parents or grandparents may have for you.
  • Follow the same advice that I’ve offered (see above) involving your children, spouses, partners, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, “play Mommas and Dads” and any other close relatives.
Record your information! You will be appreciated as an ancestor.
Photo by Ann Nekr on Pexels.com
  • If you or anyone immigrated from other country, and/or lived in other countries, please include that information along with dates and other relevant information.
  • Where have you resided? List those places, including college locations and other spots, no matter the length of your stay. It helps to place this in chronological order.
  • My daughter is a U.S. Army veteran. It is helpful to list any military records and other related public service with similar dates, times and other publishable information.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  • What is your religious affiitation? Has it always been what you are now recording or did you change denominations? All of this information is helpful to the future family researchers.
  • Be sure to leave behind your careers and years of service. Why did you choose the careers that define your professional work?
  • There’s helpful information about your health. Please include all commentary is included in your documents for family researchers.
  • Include as much about your life as possible. I would add that I took courses in comedy and actually performed on the Second City stage — twice!
  • Remember to physically describe yourself now and in previous years. Place photographs of yourself in records that are findable.

Thanks to technlogy, all of the offerings that I recommended could be easily filed in this manner. I encourage you to sign up for the free or paid electronic sites to help organize your information. Even with enviornmental challenges, if there is a way to print your information, do so. Place it in a safe place. It is always a great discovery when your descendants find information in your handwriting or outside of technology.

Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels.com


#5 Peek in our e-book: “Out of Sight’ for beginning Black Genealogists

PART I: Out of Our Gloomy Past

Slavery’s Impact Upon Black Genealogical Research

  Slavery’s far-reaching effect upon the lives of African Americans is the single-most reason why it is challenging to easily research involving our Black ancestors. Records of names, places of origin, accurate ages and other important data were not kept for slaves or if kept, are likely long ago destroyed or lost. In rare instances, some of the basic passenger information was retained by the Atlantic Ocean ship’s captain or slave holders. In the records born from slave holders, it is likely that the surnames are the same as the persons who took possession of our ancestors.

The estimates vary on when the first slaves were shipped across the Atlantic to the North and South American soil. Some reports suggest that the first slaves arrived on U.S. shores somewhere between 1525 and 1619. It is well documented that in 1619, slaves were unloaded from ships at Port Comfort, VA., near Jamestown. Between 1619 and 1866, approximately 13 million Africans were packed into ships headed for the “New World.” Of that, an estimated two million slaves perished by disease, suicides and other means, making their graves the Atlantic Ocean. That left an approximate 10.7 million Africans who survived the brutal slave ships’ conditions across the Atlantic Ocean. It is estimated 388,000 black ancestors arrived along North American shores through 1866, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (edited by Profs. David Eltis and David Richardson). The remainder of the precious “cargo” was delivered to South American and Caribbean countries.

Sometimes in the pursuit of African American ancestors, the inquiries or checklists do not take into consideration that not U.S. residents arrived on these shores with passenger lists to identify them. One case in point is found in a test that I took to a complete a genealogy course. I missed the correct answer on one question because I responded based on my African American family history.   The question on the examination was: “Which immigration records are the best sources for determining if someone’s ancestor arrived in the United States from an international country. The instructor’s answer was “Passenger lists.”  The answer choices did not include one for my ancestors. This is an example of the importance of remaining flexible and open to the workarounds and delays in retrieving records related to your family’s ancestors.

 When searching for ancestors not all potential information is included in general inquiries. Many records unique to Black, Native Americans, Afro-Caribbean ancestors are not integrated into traditional family ancestry searches. For instance, “Slave Schedules” is not included in an ancestry site query for a relative. Therefore, it is important to review all categories of detailed listings such as the Sumter County, Alabama, U.S., Circuit Court Files, 1840-1950 and Americus times-recorder NEW.  It is advisable to rely on more than one on-line genealogy site to expand the ancestral search and build family trees.

Pre- and Post-Civil War Searches

The important benchmarks that are integral to effectively and efficiently researching African American ancestry are divided in two major categories:

  1. Slave families before the Civil War.
  2. Black and African American families beginning with the 1870 Census.

Prior to the Civil War, information and data about African American ancestors is sparse and vastly different than that of others. Slaves’ surnames were often the same as their owners and not of their African-given names.  In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau developed separate listings known as “Slave Schedules” in 1850 and 1860. While not providing the names of slaves, the Slave Schedules provide the owners’ names. In many cases, the identifiers for slaves included the ages, sex and varying notations such as “deaf …dumb.”

However, after the war and beginning with the 1870 Census, the official recordkeeping involving Blacks was similar to that of U.S. Whites and immigrants. While some former slaves maintained the slave owners’ surnames given to them, others changed their last names. That is why the family Bible is so important as it was a historical recorder of the important events in the lives of freed slaves. The family Bible also served as an official legal document in the courthouse where African Americans sought official birth records. Usually, the births of our family members occurred with the help of midwives. The midwives were also principally responsible for reporting births to the respective county court houses.

Making the most of “Brick walls”

Between 1920 and 1930, my Great-Grandmother Carrie changed the spelling of our surname to “Wead” and my grandfather followed her lead when applied for his social security card in 1936.  My father, Rodney Wead, never learned why the spelling change in our surname. The Census Bureau and other government sources frequently contain errors in ages, relationships to the heads of households, racial classification, employment, literacy, name spellings, real estate and other categories involving the documentation of African American families. This e-book will offer recommendations on how to confirm the demographic data and thereby move around the “brick wall” effects. “The wall” or “the brick wall” is a phrase often used in genealogy to describe what it feels like when after several hours or even years of sorting through delicate historical information, the researcher is not able to breakthrough with accurate information about their ancestor.

You do not have to get used to the wall’s reality. Approach your research by thinking new thoughts and seek opportunities in the historical challenges to keep walls in our ways.  Combine the “old school” with new ways. See value in the centuries ago inscribed family Bibles while trusting the technology to locate grave markers and passports of your ancestors. Invest your time and resources into learning more about your ancestors for personal, professional, mental and physical health benefits. It will be worth it.

Mental, Psychological, Spiritual Walls

“Why can’t I know my birthday?” asked Frederick Douglass, born a slave around 1817.  Think about that statement by the great statesman, Douglass. It was rare for slaves and any indentured black servants to know the details of their lives. Think about how difficult it may be for you to learn the same about your ancestors.

There are many more terms or single words that are triggers for deep-seeded and some surface matters that my cousin and I had not fully resolved. The same may be true for others who embark on the black genealogy path.  For some of the topics and situations we encountered during our research, Mark and I had to take a break after discovering something that was a breakthrough while also being a burden to our souls. We exhaled whenever those temporary “moments” of anxiety and questions flooded our thoughts and words such as the time we dealt with the meaning of word “property” to slave holders and traders. For instance, the reality that slaves were considered “property” by their owners meant that being bought and sold in exchange for land, cash, or another material matter, remains disheartening. It meant that slave families were ripped apart and the scars and outward behaviors would likely be passed through the generations.

Each time, we hit those bumps in the road, Mark and I successfully emerged from our unplanned research breaks with fresh outlooks and words of encouragement about our brave and smart ancestors. After all, if our ancestors had not endured the pain, suffering and the glorious moments, none of us would be on this earth. We are sharing our tribulations to help others who are deeply connected to their pasts to advance their present and future journeys.

 During your early discoveries of family ancestry, it is likely that you will find words, phrases, photographs and other documents that may trigger emotions and reactions that you may have long ago forgiven. For Mark and me, our triggers included the following words, phrases and digits:

During your early discoveries of family ancestry, it is likely that you will find words, phrases, photographs and other documents that may trigger emotions and reactions that you may have long ago forgiven. For Mark and me, our triggers included the following words, phrases and digits:

1525                                                                Land deeds                                         Slave owners

1619                                                                Lynching                                             Slave schedules

1919                                                                Middle Passage                                   Slavery                       

Branding                                                         Missing names of slaves                     Status of black women           

‘Death over foreign servitude’                        Mutilation                                           Whippings      

Fugitive                                                           Property                                 

“Gator Babies”                                                Probated wills                                    

Imprisonment                                                  “Slave for life”                                   

Illustration of slaves in chains, from the August 1838 edition of the American Antislavery Alamanac.

Illustration of slaves in chains. From Southern, N., American Antislavery Almanac (August 1838). Boston: Isaac Knapp, Publisher. https://archive.org/details/americanantislav1838chil/page/20/mode/2up

Slaves under the overseer's whip, illustration from the American Antislavery Almananc, 1838.

Illustration of slaves under the overseer’s whip. From Southern, N., American Antislavery Almanac (August 1838). Boston: Isaac Knapp, Publisher. https://archive.org/details/americanantislav1838chil/page/20/mode/2up

With many more expressions and reminders of our ‘gloomy past,’ Mark and I continued our path as overcomers. We focus on the ‘the white gleam of our bright star is cast,’ as penned by James Weldon Johnson in the poem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” It was written during a time when Jim Crow replaced slavery. His brother, John Rosamond Johnson, composed the song that is sung today and affectionately known as the “National Negro Anthem.”  The words to this anthem are a go-to song of comfort, faith and hope for the future. ­

Lift Every Voice and Sing

James Weldon Johnson – 1871-1938

Lift every voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast’ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered.
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

From Saint Peter Relates an Incident by James Weldon Johnson. Copyright © 1917, 1921, 1935 James Weldon Johnson, renewed 1963 by Grace Nail Johnson.

Let’s get started.


Liggins Legacy-building in ‘this life’

Omaha, Nebraska’s Woods-Hughes-Liggins family is very special to the Owen-Wead family.

My Dad, Dr. Rodney S. Wead, https://northomahahistory.com/2019/12/11/a-biography-of-rodney-wead/considers Media Maven Cathy Hughes https://www.omahamagazine.com/2018/11/21/301576/cathy-hughes his “little sis.”

Dad and Cathy met as youthful residents in the Logan Fontenelle Housing Development “The ‘jects” https://northomahahistory.com/2015/08/20/a-history-of-the-logan-fontenelle-housing-projects/. Cathy’s Dad, William Alfred Woods, attended Creighton University and became the first African American to earn an accounting degree at the Omaha institution. https://leoadambiga.com/2010/04/29/His family moved out of Logan Fontenelle for a better life for his children (4th child is Cathy), wife, Helen Jones Woods, world-renowned founder and glass ceiling breaker of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&ei=UTF-8&p=Helen+Jones+Woods&type=E211US1494G0#id=2&vid=d01749fc55514eb606b68e2a725136ec&action=click.

It is no surprise that the legacy of the Woods-Liggins-Hughes lives on. Spend 8 minutes watching this exciting video!


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!


Breaking through the Ice: First Black Ice Figure Skater could not compete during tragic Jim Crow era

Honored now posthumously by Ice Skating organizations, young black women

Mabel Fairbanks

Mabel Fairbanks was born in Jacksonville, Florida in the early 1920s. Life there was subjugated by abject poverty, bigotry, and Jim Crow laws. In the early 1930s, there was a great migration north in which Fairbanks’ brothers and sisters moved to New York City. She herself followed along. There, at an early age, she was drawn to the sport of figure skating. During the cold winters of the city, she would curiously watch from afar the twirling and gliding skaters in Central Park. But it was after seeing Sonja Henie’s movie “One In A Million” that she was determined to learn to skate. She took herself to the north end of Harlem with a pair of used, oversize skates, and on small frozen ponds and rivulets, she started to teach herself to skate. In her continued desire to practice her skills on ice, she ventured out into the city to find a proper ice rink facility. Time after time she was denied entrance to skate at many of the city’s coveted rinks because of her color, but she did not let that deter her. The manager of the Gay Blades Ice Rink on West 52nd St. noted her persistence and finally let her in, only to request that she could only skate the last 30 minutes of the evening session. As a result, with her enthusiasm and dazzling spirit she caught the eye of the legendary 9 time U.S. Ladies Champion, Maribel Vinson Owen, who helped refine Fairbanks’ skating technique with tips and pointers. Fairbanks was finally shattering the race barrier in the city. Because she was not allowed to compete due to race and bigotry of the skating community in the city, Owen encouraged her to create her own shows and events. Taking that suggestion to heart, she soon was producing her own shows at the Gay Blades Ice Rink after their closing hours, as well shows in the Supper Clubs, the Apollo Theatre, and other social venues in and around Harlem. In the late 40s Fairbanks left the east coast for California. She quickly gained fame and respect first becoming the coach of the children of Hollywood’s elite — Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Ozzie and Harriet’s Ricky Nelson, and Otto Preminger. She made guest appearances on the popular KTLA TV show “Frosty Frolics.” But eventually her deep desire was to become the coach of young competitive skaters of all races with her primary focus in helping nurture and support African American figure skaters. The list of some of those talented students includes: Atoy Wilson, Richard Ewell and Michelle McCladdie, Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, Bobby Beauchamp, Leslie Robinson, and many others. Along with inspiring, mentoring, and knowing champions — Peggy Fleming, Scott Hamilton, Kristi Yamaguchi, Rudy Galindo and Debi Thomas — her coaching style helped her students to become not only great champions but also upstanding individuals. Even though she herself never stood on a podium as a champion, she took great pride and satisfaction in her students who did. And with that, her vision and goals were accomplished and fulfilled. Fairbanks coached until she was 79 years young. In 1997, Fairbanks was the first African American to be inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. In October of 2001 she was posthumously inducted into the Women’s Sports Foundation Hall of Fame. Mabel Fairbanks quietly passed in Sept of 2001 in Burbank, California, leaving a bright legacy as a trailblazer and the Grand Dame of African American figure skaters.

Celebrate the life and accomplishments of Mabel Fairbanks at the 2021 Champions in Life Virtual Benefit Gala!


Driven CEO: Aicha Evans

I just enjoyed a great interview — @BlombergTV — with Aicha Evans regarding the future of driverless cars and technology in relation to gender and racial diversity as benefits to all corporations. Here’s the Black Enterprise story:

Amazon just acquired Zoox, a self-driving startup company, run by Black female CEO Aicha Evans, for $1.2 Billion, Black Enterprise reports.

Zoox is the maker of self-driving vehicles built for purpose that also happen to be eco-friendly. Since 2014, the company has been testing these autonomous vehicles in Las Vegas and San Francisco, with most referring to them as a “robotaxi” service. For the last two years , Evans has been at the helm, working as CEO to help the company expand. Now, Amazon, a longstanding investor in various self-driving startups, has acquired the company for over $1 billion. 

“This acquisition solidifies Zoox’s impact on the autonomous driving industry. We have made great strides with our purpose-built approach to safe, autonomous mobility, and our exceptionally talented team working every day to realize that vision. We now have an even greater opportunity to realize a fully autonomous future,” Evans said. 

The online retail giant plans to use the technology to tackle last-mile deliveries, officially automating ground delivery and revolutionizing the industry. Chief Safety Innovation Officer at Zoox, Mark Rosekind, spoke about the possibilities of the partnership, saying, “We now have an even greater opportunity to realize a fully autonomous future. We’re going to start seeing [in] three to five years where people start actually deploying in cities, but it’s going to be 20 to 30 years before you start seeing this all over the place.” https://7bc6990ae9ff633fcc00d205131dd7af.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Evans will help spearhead the initiative, continuing to lead in her current role as CEO. 

Congratulations Aicha!

Photo Courtesy of Aicha Evans/Global News Wire



“Power in Singing Your Song”

Bishop Jack L. Bomar’s Bible Study Blog Sunday, February 28, 2021

Bishop Jack L. Bomar on singing a song unto God: “It maintains your relationship.”

Atlanta, Georgia USA – “Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring.
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty.
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us;
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun;
Let us march on till victory is won.” https://blackthen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/weldon….jpg

When the original words of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing” was penned by James Weldon Johnson in 1899, it was a poem in honor of President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. President Lincoln’s memorial birthday on Feb. 12, 1900 was marked by 500 black children at a segregated Florida school reciting the words by Johnson, a poet, writer, civil rights activist and educator. Shortly after that historic date, Johnson’s brother, J. Rosamond Johnson, wrote the lyrics to the words and the song that is widely known as the “Negro National Anthem.”

Bishop Jack recalled how the song’s author said that he “made no efforts” to hold back the tears that the words and music stirred inside of him. The song also known as the Negro National Anthem, was described as one where “the song wrote itself.”

Later Career: James Weldon Johnson · Yale University Library Online  Exhibitions

James Weldon Johnson, right; John Rosamond Johnson, at the piano, circa 1937 https://onlineexhibits.library.yale.edu/s/lift-every-voice/media/7538

Today, U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (D-South Carolina) is seeking Congressional approval for “Lift Every Voice and Sing” to become the nation’s hymn to help unite humanity. https://news.yahoo.com/clyburn-explains-push-lift-every-200810051.html

“There is a lot of power in the message,” said Bishop Jack, adding that the Johnson brothers’ song and lyrics are a perfect example of songs that reach our “soul level.”

Drawing from the Bible scripture Acts 16:20 – 26, Bishop Jack recalled how Paul and Silas were brought before the town’s magistrate judges and accused of falsehoods after they were sharing the truth of God’s word and helping people. They were beaten and thrown into the basement of the prison with their legs cuffed to the bars. About midnight, they were praying and singing hymns unto God. Their singing was heard throughout the prison and their song praises unto God were interrupted by a violent earthquake that caused the doors to fly open. All chains on prisoners were loosed and the prisioners went free.

For the “midnight hours” in everyone’s lives, remember Paul and Silas and sing songs of faith and praise until God, extoled Bishop Jack.

Bishop Jack spoke of his special songs. He also asked the congregation in the cyber sanctuary of Hillside International Truth Center they too had spiritual songs that “touch the soul … calms the fears and anchors” them.

He spoke of those songs sung during the times folk “go through the go through.” Bishop reminded listeners and viewers that the Hillside Praize Team sings powerful songs of praise and joy to uplift, remind and encourage congregants.

What is one of Bishop Jack’s favorite songs of Zion? The Bishop and musician sang his answer a capella:


Bishop Jack spoke of three (3) impacts of songs upon hearts and souls:

  1. Singing your song has the power to soothe the soul. Singing soothes the nervous system.
  2. Singing your song stirs up the spirit. Sing in the morning. Sing because you’re happy, sing because you’re free.
  3. Singing your song sets you free.

And so it is.

Bishop’s Bible Study: Sharing your Song

  1. Paul and Silas sang songs of truth that set them free. What songs would you sing if you were like them during those “go through” times as described by Bishop Jack? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.
  2. Do you have a favorite song that has been performed by the Hillside Praize Team? __________________________________________.
  3. Do you have words of praise and gratitude about any particular victory? Would you turn those words into your heart song by penning a few lines below? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.
  4. How does “Lift Every Voice and Sing” resonate with you? What is your favorite phrase, stanza, or single words? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.
  5. In honor of Black History Month, which Black inventors are named by Bishop Jack in his sermon? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.
  6. Bishop Jack offered a descriptive of an experience he had while in Australia. Why do the Australian Aborigines remind their young people of their history during deliberate “walkabouts” throughout key regions in their country? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.

Wade in the water … god’s gonna trouble the water

Walk with me … while I;m on this pilgrim journey


#1 Exclusive to Sankofa Family Genealogy Workshop participants and clients

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com
e-book available exclusively to workshop participants and clients. Book design by Veverly Byrd-Davis


An Introduction to Unearthing Your African American and Afro-Caribbean Genealogy


 Dr. Ann Lineve Wead


Mark Stephen Owen, MS


“Be a Tree” … Demonstrate Hope, Strength, Prosperity

Iyanla Vanzant is an American inspirational speaker, lawyer, New Thought spiritual teacher, author, life coach and television personality.

The cure for ills in human nature is found in nature, says a top inspirational analyst and New Thought spiritual teacher. Rev. Dr. Vanzant also lends her time and talents to inspire Atlanta’s Hillside International Truth Center’s members and friends each month during the 2nd Sunday morning worship inspiration.

“Be a tree and know that your roots have been divinely planted and deeply anchored,” Rev. Dr. Iyanla Vanzant told the listeners and viewers via the virtual platform of “Hillside International Truth Center https://hillsideinternational.org/.

In her iconic style of blending life’s metaphors inside of truth-telling, Rev. Dr. Vanzant linked cures for the pandemic’s disruptions to the perennial plant, the tree. She cast a spotlight on the tree, which represents “powerful symbols of growth and resurrection.

There are more than 60,000 different species of trees, Rev. Dr. Vanzant correlated the variety of trees to the cultural differences around the world. Representing life, wisdom, power and prosperity, trees are considered nature’s “Holy observers” by philosophers in certain cultures. She

She “dared” her viewers to adopt the characteristics of a tree, which are found in its grand composition listed as:

  • Root
  • Trunk
  • Leaves
  • Fruit

By coming “alive season after season,” Rev. Dr. Vanzant speaks to the tree as the backbone of humankind. That is, the tree as the example to men, women and children, demonstrates how to withstand the cold winds of winter and the tenacity to ‘hang in there’ to welcome the spring. Spring is where optimism blooms.

As an avid reader, listener, learner and doer of Rev. Dr. Vanzant’s realistic and dramatic depictions, she is known for speaking so deep that it takes more than a moment to catch up to what she is telling us. In this spirit, I offer my “Tree table” to explain her powerful, divinely metaphoric message:

When Rev. Dr. Says … Rev. Dr. Translated …
Peace LambsThe Book of Psalm (text from 1:1-2)
Be a TreePowerful symbols of growth and resurrection. Help reduce negative climate change.
Be a TreeLife, wisdom, life, prosperity. Embody strength. Do not wilt and wither every time a “bird” leaves one’s branches.
RootWomen and men with deep roots who have been through some things and still they meditate on the Word. They know that God has a plan and purpose that shall be revealed in due season.
TrunkLife is much bigger than our present moment.
LeavesLook up, reach up … beyond our human limitation. Move toward the light.
FruitProduce and think long-term. Our lives much produce meaningful fruit. We are known by the fruit we produce. We must produce inward and outward fruit. They remember if you were kind, generous, had an encouraging word and forgiveness when necessary.
SoilEnriched by what we go through.
A Tree Planted by the Water … … Shall not be moved.

Rev. Dr. Vanzant related with every virtual listener and viewer as being a part of coronavirus pandemic global environment. Her production studio shut down on Feb. 26, 2020 and everyone — including her — was sent home. Since acknowledged the upheaval caused in many lives due in economic, social and physical areas. To that, Rev. Dr. Vanzant says the pandemic highlights the importance of having good roots laid down by individuals.

In her special way, Rev. Dr. Vanzant also expanded the meaning of the words in the Book of Psalm or what she calls the Book of “Peace Lambs” in Chapter 1, Verses 2-3 :

What is read … What it means …
DelightDerive great pleasure and joy
LordConsciousness of dominion, “I am”
ItPresence of God within
ProsperFlourish physically

Stop holding onto things that hold you down. dim your light and confuse you.

From Rev. Dr. Vanzant to the Hillside International Truth Center family and others joining the exclusive virtual service: “Happy Love Day to You.”

Be a tree.



Navigating COVID-19 in the Blind

Photo taken by me shortly after my son John’s eyesight was lost forever at age 8. That was 26 years ago.

“It is not just school, it’s everything like hanging out with other blind people,” said John Kimbrough, who described the isolation he feels during the current health pandemic.

For a blind and partially deaf graduate school students, COVID-19 has been especially been challenging for John and others with special abilities. John is my adult son and I often check on him. .

Like most of us, John said the isolation is challenging. Yet, John is fortunate because he lives with his Dad, Wendell, in southern Illinois while completing his Master’s degree in Education. John’s career goal is to become a teacher to visually impaired students. He hopes to return to the campus where he was educated in high school, the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine, FL.

As for the coronavirus pandemic’s social distancing and school closures parameters, John said the virtual learning has made him feel more isolated than perhaps his counterparts with sight. Also, when he is “out and about”and abiding by the Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 guidelines, he feels a little better. Still, he says that it hard to navigate in once familiar spaces.

“It is what it is. Not much interaction going on. Trying to figure out ways to counter the lack of human interaction at school,” said John.

John is not alone.

Tens of thousands of visually impaired persons are finding special challenges navigating during this time. Individuals who used to offer help to visually impaired persons now shy away from them due to COVID-19. contagion risks. There are several other troubling trends that negatively impact visually impaired persons.

Photo by Eternal Happiness on Pexels.com

John, also a candidate for a kidney transplant, is in line for a COVID-19 vaccine. He is hopeful that the soon becomes an afterthought. For now, however, family members and friends, check on John to keep him engaged. He also relies on audio books and he listens to videos such as “The Danger of a Single Story.”


John says the video as told by Novelist Chimamanda Adichiet, is particularly useful to him during the pandemic period since it speaks to seeing the world through one lens without considering the plight and stereotyping of others who are marginalized.

John is fortunate. He is enrolled in a university program where “this semester felt more normal for me than last semester.” He’s focusing on his two graduate courses, “Classroom Management” and “Measurement of Learning.” Two research papers are due this semester in one of his courses.

John said thankfully, he learned specialized coping skills while he was one of handful of students nationwide selected for a leadership program at the New York-based Helen Keller International program. He was paired with a completely deaf student and the exercise as to find a way to move forward. John said it taught trust among them. John realized that he needed the person’s sight to move forward and the individual needed someone to accurately hear the instructions.

During that time, John and his group toured “Ground Zero” at the former World Trade Center 9/11 site . It was about a year after the 2001 disaster involving international violence against the United States.

John said he tempers his feeling of isolation against what he “sensed” at the 9/11 crash site. He said that he could almost hear the screams and feel the fear that the victims likely felt. He is a victim of COVID-19, yet John said it is nothing when compared to what happened on Sept.11, 2001.


Guided by the blind: Butler University will soon debut a campus guide app to aid visually impaired students

Panos Linos, Butler University professor of computer science and software engineering, and one of the student developers. Linos started developing GuideDawg 1.0 in 2015, an app to guide Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired students around their building. Students at ISBVI and other campuses usually have to be accompanied by someone to navigate campus until they memorize their route. (Butler University)

As a Mom of a blind son who attended a few colleges/universities until he found the perfect fit, the Indiana School for the Blind and now Butler University app resource is appreciated. With a $19K seed grant, Butler University students who are visually impaired, will have an app to help guide them around campus. This is a novel idea that should be duplicated throughout the world’s university and college campuses.

Although my son did not attend Butler, the university is an example of what a just released study by Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. on higher education. The leading credit rating and risk analysis firm also upgraded the higher education sector from negative to stable over the next year to 18 months, based on the large, “comprehensive universities” strong financial performance from endowments, gifts and related non-tuition dependent income.

From Moody’s (Dec. 10, 2019):
“Over the longer term, social risks will continue to transform the US higher education sector, with demographic changes presenting both challenges and opportunities. While traditional-age enrollment may decline, expanding online programs and growing workforce needs will provide new types of learners with access to higher education. Governance will remain a key differentiator among higher education institutions, Moody’s says. Those that are able to identify their strengths and weaknesses and take appropriate action where necessary will fare better than those that remain reactive.”

New types of learners and non-traditional students will serve as the largest group of college and university students. Take heed, university and college administrators, faculty, alumni, students and parents. There has long been a hashtag for individuals to #staywoke. This same hashtag is relevant for university and college administrations. I say 🔗 the dots. Connect the dots!

After the 1.0 version of the app was developed in 2015, Panos Linos, Butler University professor of computer science and software engineering, and a team of students are developing second version o…THEBUTLERCOLLEGIAN.COMProfessors, students develop GuideDawg 2.0: a mobile app designed to help blind or visually impaired students 


By “doing the right thing” and ‘trusting no one’ learn if graduate school is right for you: Four, sure-fire ways to find out

When I was a student nearing the end of my matriculation at small, private and United Methodist Church-based school in Atlanta, Ga., my department chair, Dr. Gloria James, strongly recommended that attend graduate school.

My response: No way.

I financed my undergraduate education at the private institution of Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) with an annually renewable Reader’s Digest essay scholarship, grants, cash and limited student loans. I didn’t want to take on any more debt. Period. Also, my ego was calling most of the shots in 20-year-old mind. I was anxious to begin my career and thereby make my mark upon this world. Yet, my consistent pattern of listening to and following the advice of folk much wiser than me, overruled my lesser reasoning. On top of it all, I received a job offer from the Atlanta Journal/Constitution to serve as a city beat reporter.

Wised up

The thumbnail outcome of my choices is that graduate education has paid off in many ways for me, including serving as the first female dean of journalism school, serving as the highest-ranking female local government administrator in Georgia, multi-media and award-winning financial journalist, and a myriad of other career and personal highlights. My salaries have typically remained higher than my peers in the industry.

Tip #1: Weigh investment of graduate $ investment v. other factors

As the parent of adult children who matriculated through college and graduate school, I am well aware of the cost-benefit ratio when considering graduate schools. While there are several articles, government studies and other research available to help students and their parents determine if graduate is worth it based on costs alone, I found this document to prove the most useful.

I am upfront in my recognition of the costs factors of graduate education. Yet, I advocate for graduate degrees based on the lifetime benefits of the investment.

Tip #2: Spike Lee told me to ‘do the right thing’

I am delighted to report that I followed Dr. James’ sound advice: A little more than one year after she directed me to this unknown territory, I graduated from the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. Part of my decision to attend Medill was based on the sage advice of my classmate, Spike Lee, who experienced a similar conversation with Dr. James just a year ahead of me. Spike simply said, “Do what she (Dr. James) said. It is easier that way.” I easily recall what Spike said since it was straight-forward and impactful. Do what she said. It is easier that way.

Spike, a graduate of Morehouse College and New York University, and me, a graduate of Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) and Northwestern University, shared the same undergraduate communications majors’ experiences. At that time, Clark was the home of the mass communications students in the Atlanta University Center. The AUC is the nation’s largest consortium of historically black colleges and universities in the United States. Spike and I also shared a love of producing short, student films and videos and were among the approximate ten students who founded the AUC Newsreel under the watchful leadership of our favorite film professor, Dr. Herbert Eichelberger. The youtube feature about the AUC Newsreel is contained within the tribute by another founder, George Folkes.

Youtube image courtesy of Gentle George Folkes, “A Salute to Dr. E” Dec. 2, 2013

Shifting into high gear: Graduate education

Although Spike and I today appear ‘oh-so-smart’ by graduating from our respective top graduate schools, I moved ahead while often wondering why Dr. James’ recommendation was a better a better option than my-grand and totally uninformed plan to pursue an immediate career in journalism?

Here’s my remarks as a “thought leader” who was asked to share my thoughts about graduate school for communications majors. It was recorded by the National Association of Broadcasters Educational Foundation during the largest annual confab of the broadcast industry.

Since I graduated from Medill nearly 40 years ago, it is helpful to get an update on what the complex media industry has in store for today’s and recent grads of communication schools. Here’s a podcast with Gen Z views as captured during a November 2019 broadcast industry meeting in Texas: https://education.nab.org/nab/courses/14945.

Tip #3: Attending graduate schools based on its prestige?

The short answer is yes and no to whether one should attend a graduate school based on its prominence and views in the marketplace.

Tip #4: Determine if the investment will pay off

It’s safe to reveal that the cost of attaining my degree from Northwestern University some 40 years ago is approximately $30,000 less than what it would cost today. Although inflation and the CPI show marked increases in the financing of a graduate education, here are my recommendations. Yet, today, lots of the major universities have the means to finance one’s education in full or in part.

  • Consider whether your undergrad degree will “hold up” in the present marketplace. If not, consider graduate education or beneficial certificate programs.
  • Plan ahead. Begin to research the graduate school scholarships and grants of which there are plenty. Yet, it requires skilled research skills and networking to achieve desired educational goals.
  • Consider graduate schools that offer tuition assistance and/or those institutions willing to pay the full cost — tuition, fees, housing.
  • Consider working in a higher-than-average job while matriculating in graduate school.
  • Be selective in your graduate degree choice. Often, students in communications will inform me that they wish to attain a MBA degree. I hold a DBA and still I ask whether they wish to gain a master’s degree or a MBA? Their answers illustrate a bigger issue of students not necessarily researching the degree to assist in bright careers.

It is important to reiterate that graduate education is not for everyone. Yet, in one of my typical examples to undergraduate students who wish to specialize in digital media areas such as sports journalism, seek out graduate programs that can advance you into their desired positions.

“Trust no one”

Those words often uttered in the successful “Game of Thrones” HBO series were first crafted by my fellow alum of undergraduate and graduate degrees. That’s right, George R. R. Martin is a dual degree recipient of degrees from Northwestern University. The interpretation of the phrase — “trust no one” — was often uttered among journalism students inside of Fisk Hall. Fisk Hall is the home building of the Medill School in Evanston, Ill. It’s interpretation meant to always complete research on subjects before acting on it.

Photo by Gerd Altmann on Pexels.com

Ann Wead Kimbrough, DBA is a thought leader, professional journalist, university professor, former government senior official, blogger and author.
She teaches students how to professionally blog, develop podcasts, write with clarity and context and manage large, live events. Ann earned a Doctor of Business Administration degree, International Business, Argosy University; a MS degree specializing in financial journalism, NU Medill School of Journalism; and a BA degree from Clark Atlanta University. website: annweadkimbrough.com; Twitter: @ConnectMom


Pay to play: Cost of kids’ extracurricular sports

Two-sport “star,” my grandson, Kingston, shooting a basketball during a recent game.
Nine-year-old Kingston on first base during recent game.

Parents are shelling out billions of dollars annually for their kids to play sports. In this “pay to play” society, the U.S. government and private organizations find that the youth sports industry is estimated to be a $15 billion industry.

During a recent @walbtv show, The Breakdown, I provided financial insight on costs associated with children’s sports and also briefly discussed the economic benefits of that community’s homecoming celebrations.


Baseball $659.96
Basketball $426.78
Bicycling $1,011.61
Cross country $420.86
Field hockey $2,124.62
Flag football $268.46
Tackle football $484.57
Golf $925.38
Gymnastics $1,580.28
Ice hockey $2,582.74
Lacrosse $1,289.22
Martial arts $776.51
Skateboarding $380.02
Skiing/Snowboarding $2,248.84
Soccer $536.90
Softball $612.83
Swimming $786.03
Tennis $1,170.09
Track & field $191.34
Volleyball $595.49
Wrestling $476.45
Other sports $1,233.30
Source: Aspen Institute

As a former “Soccer Mom” — aka basketball, baseball, track, golf, skiing, goalball and band Mom — of three children and now as a grandmother of young athletes and scholars, I know well that many businesses that benefit from children’s sports such as:

Sporting goods stores (gear, etc.)

Grocery stores (snacks and drinks per game)

Restaurants (teams’ celebrations)

Trophy stores (ribbons, plaques)

Private coaches

Clinics and camps

Specialized training centers

Gaming centers

Colleges and universities

My granddaughter, Kaidence, a soccer player and extracurricular math and science participant, poses with her favorite Florida State University goalie Brooke Bollinger, during a recent mini-camp.

The work of creative students on a scavenger hunt as part of a class assignment — Part 1

From student Jonathan David about his bicycle photo: Significance: Due to limited parking as a result of construction on Florida A&M’s campus, many students have resorted to cycling to campus. Although the hills may offer a workout, you do not have to worry about a ticket!
Tow Away Zone! Unless you’re a cyclist

Teaching digital native students is a welcomed challenge.

The first assignment for two sections of my digital storytelling courses was to complete a scavenger hunt within a 1.5 mile radius in downtown Tallahassee. Other students captured a single image with a caption in a deadline scenario. Both groups performed well.

In all, the assignment is related to field producing. We have book work and discussions to follow.

Here are some of the images from one of my classes. I will follow up this blog with the second set of images from the other class.


Prayer pouch with a purpose

I was wrongly speaking aloud about another one of those”worse year of my life” moments when my mother gave me a colorful cloth pouch.

I didn’t go to church with her. I told Mom that I had too many things to sort out and that no one would miss me if I did not attend that day’s service. I also told her earlier that I needed additional funds to repair my vehicle and honor the medical co-payments related to my youngest son’s blindness. I was asking for patience, peace and a semblance of a so-called normal life. It was a too-often state-of-mind for me. I craved a change. That was in 1994.

My mother returned from church and was talking over me about how I should place photos, notes with my hopes and dreams, receipts and faith examples of any type. I tried to again interrupt my mother with my lengthy list of needs. I gave up and decided to try her way. After all, I had nothing to lose.

Nothing to lose: That’s a great place for spiritual interference to enter the room. I found myself clinging to the pouch like it was a necessary hand bag or makeup carrier. I still stuff the pouch today with items that are disparate and have individual meanings to me. The remembrances evoke tears, smiles and frowns from the stuffed away memories of the good in my life and the fears.

Several years ago, I heard a sermon by Dr. Barbara King, founder and senior pastor of Atlanta’s Hillside Chapel & Truth Center, about temporary possessions we give power to in place of the real power source — God, Allah and other deities. She spoke of a rabbit’s foot and other items deemed lucky by its owners. Dr. Barbara — as she is known — told the congregation to use until they could gain strength in trusting the true source.

I was in that place. I was a “baby Christian” as my Atlanta area pastor used to call us who stayed in the same spot without spiritual growth. Dr. Leon Hollinshed was among those kind individuals who helped me to get to my greatest place. For that, I am grateful to him and so many others who stood in the gap with prayers during the year my youngest son became blind and our world became a shadow of its former place.

Since 1994, I’ve cherished memories from some funeral programs, happy and encouraging notes, photos of my children in their early years, an usher pin, an airline ticket, donation receipts, name badges and encouraging letters and notes from family members and now deceased friends.

Connect the dots

1. Even if you don’t feel like it, graciously accept a gift of encouragement.

2. Listen to the still, small voice and act accordingly.

3. Believe in prayer.

4. Do something to honor your gifts. I write thank yous to folk who have extended kindness to my family and me.


How to find best bereavement and emergency travel rates when time is not on your side

Don’t fly away from the last-minute travel fares during times of bereavement or emergencies. Compare cheapest travel rates on all websites and avoid the stress.

When my 81-year-old uncle died in Pensacola, FL on the first Friday of August 2019, his next journey of 1,100 miles placed him in our hometown of Omaha, NE. My family members, too, trekked from several states by planes, trains, buses and automobiles to Uncle Sam’s funeral and burial.

Yet, the real trip was wading through the varied policies and rules on bereavement travel discounts. Hunting for bereavement and emergency rates is not your typical fun thing to do, unless you are in the funeral services business or a travel agent. Travel discount discussions about end-of-life are avoided or never conducted.

Part of the reason is that the bereavement, compassion and emergency rates are not easily understandable. It’s stressful enough dealing with trauma associated with a death of a loved one, whether it was immediate or anticipated after a lengthy illness. Add sorting through the tons of different rules by carriers and hotels to achieve discount rates, and it almost becomes unmanageable and therefore, often the grieving travelers end up paying too much for their travels.

Now that my uncle’s services have passed, I’m happy to share what I have unearthed from the latest emergency and bereavement offers among the airlines, buses, trains and hotels. Because of the time-sensitive nature of our travel, I relied on trustworthy blogs such as https://thepointsguy.com/guide/airline-bereavement-fares/ . It also helps that my sister is a hotel concierge and she guided my logistics.

Don’t cry: It’s personal

Also, most of the carriers and hotels will award the discounts if bereaved travelers are members of its respective loyalty programs. It is helpful to check online for the general policies, yet beware that what is published online may not be the latest information.

Despite my tips and that of others, if the discount travel shopping cause additional stress, choose stress-free living. Cheaper fares are no match for peace of mind.

The journey begins

Amtrak announces on its website that the train carrier offers bereavement rates. It doesn’t. I spoke with two persons from Amtrak and also tweeted a query. It shores up my recommendation to check with each company on its policies. I know it is time consuming during a time-sensitive mourning period.

Another piece of advice is to consider the low-cost offers on sites like Priceline, Kayak, Expedia, Cheap Tickets and more. Compare the travel website rates to the bereavement fares.

Fly away

Delta Airlines, 1-800-221-1212, has a bereavement page on its website that offers answers to most queries about its policy to obtain discounts. Be sure to call Delta if you wish to book a flight at its bereavement rate of 10 – 20 percent. They asked if my relative had a frequent flyer number and thankfully, he did. That is how we yielded a flight at a great rate. You also have to call Jet Blue, 1-800-Jet-Blue, to get discounts for the family members and the mourners attending public services of firefighters, police officers and others in similar professions. Like Delta and Jet Blue, Air Canada, 1-888-247-2262, wants the bereaved to call to finalize details displayed on its website page. The carrier’s bereavement page explains that its policy on discounts for travel and refunds for tickets that were booked at full rates.

Lufthansa offers discounts for the bereaved. In its words, ” In the event of a death abroad Lufthansa offers immediate family members special fares for outbound and return flights to attend the funeral if their journey starts in the USA or Canada. Customers from the USA or Canada are kindly requested to contact their Lufthansa reservations office in the USA or Canada before the start of their trip for further information and to make a booking.” Its number is 1 800 – 645 3880.

Yet, one of my other favorite airlines, Southwest Airlines, 1-800-435-9792, offers condolences to the bereaved and yet does not provide discounts. Frontier Airlines,1-801-401-9000, also does not offer discounts in its fares, yet it has a very liberal refund policy for emergencies that include bereavement.

Check with other airlines and all hotels for special rates and sometimes waived fees for ground transportation and room costs.

Where to lay your head

My family prefers the Marriott hotels and for good reasons. Much like the airlines, if you are members of its loyalty program, the hotel chain offers lower rates for its rooms. Also, similar to the airlines, contact each hotel, compare the bereavement or compassion rates to that of the low-cost airfares offered on travel websites.

Consider other sources

Groupon, for instance, has discount coupons on its websites for low cost travel in times of emergencies. Some ‘plan ahead’ funeral services offer to arrange and pay for travel for the bereaved. My advice is to read the fine print and check the Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection and other oversight agencies for ethical practices.

Even with the best planning and discount rates, flights may be cancelled. It happened to my family. Give yourself extra time to reach destination.

Recap: Connect the dots

  1. Take a breath. Choose mindfulness techniques as sitting in peaceful stillness before planning your travel.
  2. Organize your “proof of death” materials and your relationship to the deceased. If the materials are not readily available to you, the funeral home’s contact information can be used as verification by the carriers, hotels and rental car companies.
  3. Check airline discount fares first and compare it to the bereavement, emergency, compassion rates offered by major carriers and hotels, motels.
  4. Choose stress-free over haggling over cheapest rates. Save your grieving energy.
  5. Remember all of the loving condolences extended to your family or close friend. I offer my condolences and wishes for safe travels.


FAMU Reporting and Writing II students’ podcasts … Spring 2019

Students in two courses of Reporting and Writing II were given assignments to produce radio stories that spring from their semester-long news beat coverage.

Among their requirements: Produce an edited 7-minute podcast. It seemed a near impossible feat. Listen and learn. Enjoy!

Ann Wead Kimbrough, DBA, Professor


#20 How to celebrate this special Juneteenth

Surprise! U.S. Senate unanimously passes the move to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. The U.S. House also passed the measure

It’s been a long time.

Juneteenth has been an official holiday in Texas for 40 years and in 46 other states around the nation. Private and public celebrations have in full steam a lot longer, beginning with the first dancing of singing as the end of slavery was marked through voice and by paper degree beginning with the pronouncement by a U.S. general on June 19, 1865.

Our advice from Good Genes Genealogy is:

  1. Begin your family’s traditions for Juneteenth celebrations.
  2. Engage your elders. It is a time to pause and hear their stories. Record them.
  3. Review and revise your activities this year in preparation for 2022.
  4. See the church flyer below for one of my favorite celebrations in the Atlanta metropolitan area.
  5. Following the flyer and history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which has a history of spiritual, economic, liberation and uplifting leadership in the circle of African African church “hood.”
  6. My sorority’s social media flyer wraps up this blog.

The A.M.E. Church History:
The African Methodist Episcopal Church has a unique and glorious history. It is unique in that it is the first major religious denomination in the Western world that had its origin over sociological rather than theological beliefs and differences.
The immediate cause of the organization of the A. M. E. Church was the fact that members of the St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia Pa., in 1787 segregated its colored members from its white communicants. The Blacks were sent to the gallery of the Church, to use the venerable Richard Allen’s own words. One Sunday as the Africans, as they were called, knelt to pray outside of their segregated area they were actually pulled from their knees and told to go to a place which had been designated for them. This added insult to injury and upon completing their prayer, they went out and formed the Free African Society, and from this Society came two groups: The Episcopalians and the Methodists. The leader of the Methodist group was Richard Allen. Richard Allen desired to implement his conception of freedom of worship and desired to be rid of the humiliation of segregation, especially in church.
Richard Allen learned that other groups were suffering under the same conditions. After study and consultation, five churches came together in a General Convention which met in Philadelphia, Pa., April 9-11, 1816, and formed the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The name African Methodist came naturally, as Negroes at that time were called Africans and they followed the teaching of the Methodist Church as founded by John Wesley. The young Church accepted the Methodist doctrine and Discipline almost in its entirety.
Visit www.amecnet.org or www.ame-church.com for more information about the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Marvin L. Crawford, M. D., M. Div.
Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, Presiding Prelate – 6th Episcopal District
Presiding Elder Rev. Dr. Thomas L. Bess – Atlanta East District

How to Celebrate Juneteenth as a Family

By Wendy Wisner Published on May 19, 2021Print 

family eating outside
 Ariel Skelley / Getty Images

Over the past few years, many of us have become more aware of the racial injustices that have plagued Black Americans for centuries. The protests against police brutality in the summer of 2020 showed that more Americans than ever are looking for ways to support Black civil rights, to learn more about the history of racial injustice, and to find ways to participate in making the world a more equitable place.https://c19ccf989e30f1fcd0147dcd03eb6661.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Juneteenth—a national day of Black American independence—is a wonderful opportunity to engage in this movement. Whether Juneteenth is something your family has celebrated for years, or if this holiday is new to you, there are many ways to get the whole family involved.

After all, working toward a more equitable world starts by educating our children from the earliest ages, and giving them ample opportunities to integrate the fight for racial justice into their lives and traditions.

What Juneteenth Is and Why We Celebrate It

Even though many of us first heard of Juneteenth over the past few years, it’s a holiday that has been celebrated for over 150 years. Juneteenth marks the independence of Black Americans from the chains of slavery. It’s a holiday of remembrance, freedom, celebration, and a sober reminder of the work ahead to continue eradicating racism in our country.

What Is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth has its origins in American history and marks Black emancipation from slavery. On June 19, 1865, those who are believed to be the last slaves in America were freed in Galveston, Texas. Although President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863, the law was hard to enforce while the war was still raging.1

Southern slaveholders continued the practice of slavery in spite of Lincoln’s decree, and the Union army had no way to stop them until they had gained control over Southern territory. Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, when General Lee surrendered and the war was winding down, the last of the enslaved people were finally freed.

The day that the slaves were freed in Galveston, Texas was a day of profound joy and celebration. Over the years that followed, Black Americans began to celebrate this day as a day of freedom. Traditional ways of celebrating Juneteenth include barbecuing, other outdoor cookouts, prayers, fishing, and sports. Juneteenth was, and continues to be, about education and remembering the historical significance of the emancipation movement.1

Why Is It Called Juneteenth?

The world “Juneteenth” is a combination of “June” and the word “nineteenth,” the date that Juneteenth falls on. The holiday is also referred to as “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Jubilee Day,” “Emancipation Day,” and “Freedom Day.”

When Is It Celebrated?

 Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19th of each year.What Is An Anti-Racism Journey?

Is Juneteenth a National Holiday?

As awareness of Juneteenth has increased over the past few years, more states are recognizing the date as a holiday. Texas was the first state to do this, in 1980. As of June 2020, 47 states, plus the District of Columbia, had declared Juneteenth a local holiday. However, it is still not recognized nationwide.2

Despite the lack of a nationwide observance, in recent years private companies have started to recognize the importance of Juneteenth by giving their employees the day off to celebrate. In 2020, major companies like Twitter, Nike, Best Buy, and Target made Juneteenth a paid holiday.2Talking About Race: Being Mindful of Our Language

Celebrating Juneteenth As a Family

Traditional Juneteenth celebrations are usually outside, owing to the warm summer weather, and include cookouts, sports, parades, festivals, musical performances, and more. Juneteenth is also about supporting Black Americans, buying from Black businesses, learning Black history, and staying up-to-date on the struggles toward racial justice that continue to happen in this country.2

When it comes to celebrating Juneteenth as a family, there are so many creative and simple ways to participate. It’s never too early to have discussions about our children about race—in fact, the earlier we can broach these important subjects with our kids, the better. If we strive to raise our kids from an early age to understand racism and racial oppression, the better and more compassionate a world we will all have.

Be Wary of Cultural Appropriation

As you celebrate Juneteenth with your family, you should be aware of the concept of “cultural appropriation,” the practice of adopting race-specific cultural practices as your own without proper attribution or credit and in ways that further exacerbate racial oppression.

For example, there is nothing wrong with celebrating Juneteenth as a non-Black person at home or with others. Supporting Black organizations and educating yourself about Black history and culture is also great. But it might be less appropriate for a non-Black person to partake in Juneteenth customs like wearing African-themed clothing or performing traditional African dances.

You can use your judgment in instances like these, and you can also sensitively consult a Black friend or colleague if you are not sure whether what you are doing might be considered cultural appropriation.Acknowledging Your Own Racism


Family-Friendly Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth

Participate in a Local Juneteenth Celebration

There have always been Juneteenth celebrations, often held in public parks, in backyards, and as part of local festivals. But as the holiday has gained popularity, there are more ways to celebrate locally than ever.

Major cities like New YorkPhiladelphiaAtlanta, and Detroit have already posted schedules for their Juneteenth parades and festivals. Check your own town or city’s website to see what is planned, or create your own event. Visit the Worldwide Celebration page at Juneteenth.com to learn about past events and see what’s coming up this year.

Have A Black History Readathon

Now, more than ever, there are so many books geared toward children that explain racism, Black history, Black culture, and more. So go to your local library, order online, or visit your local bookstore (a Black-owned bookstore, if possible) and get reading. 

Some of our favorites include:

For ages 0-5:

For ages 6-10:

For older kids:

Have an Outdoor Cookout or Barbeque

Food is a big part of Juneteenth, so don’t skimp on this! June 19th is usually perfect weather for barbequing, grilling, and enjoying the great outdoors while you partake in delicious foods.

Traditional Juneteenth foods include fruits like strawberries and watermelons, veggies like beets and yams, as well as black-eyed peas and cornbread. Brisket, pulled pork, and baked beans with meat have also traditionally topped the menu. Red foods and drinks, like hibiscus tea and hot sauce, are customary Juneteenth fare. The color red is thought to symbolize strength and resourcefulness.3

Donate to an Organization that Supports Black Lives

Organizations that promote Black causes, including organizing protests, supporting criminal justice for Black individuals, and promoting issues that uphold racial equality, are often grassroots groups that need monetary support. There is no better way to celebrate Juneteenth than to donate to Black causes.

Your family can discuss the causes that feel dear to your hearts, and you can get your children involved by helping you raise money to donate. How about a Juneteenth lemonade stand or yard sale? These are wonderful ways to raise awareness while simultaneously raising money for a good cause.

Here are some organizations you might consider donating to:

Shop at Black-Owned Businesses

Shopping small and making your shopping purchases more inclusive shouldn’t be something that only happens once a year. But Juneteenth is a great day to splurge a little more than usual on Black-owned businesses. And there are many Black-owned businesses that cater specifically to kids’ items or items for families.

Here are some of our favorite family-friendly Black-owned businesses.


Children’s Apparel and Accessories:


Beauty and Cosmetics:

Listen to the Emancipation Proclamation

Juneteenth wouldn’t be possible without the emancipation of slaves, which officially happened on January 1, 1863, when President Lincoln gave his famous “Emancipation Proclamation” speech. You can listen to this historic speech as a family on Audiobooks.com or on YouTube.

You can use this opportunity to put this moment into historical context for your children, emphasizing that this speech was just the beginning and that the struggle toward a more equitable world for Black Americans is ongoing to this day.

Absorb Some Black Art and Culture

These days, there are so many incredible Black screenwriters, writers, actors, musicians, and more for us to support and enjoy. Many are perfect for children, too.

Here are some of our favorite family-friendly music, movies, and TV shows to stream:

Children’s music:

Movies for the whole family:

TV for the youngest kids:

  • “Bino and Fino” (Tubi)
  • “Esme and Roy” (Hulu)
  • “Motown Magic” (Netflix)
  • “Nella the Princess Knight” (Nick Jr)
  • “Super Sema” (YouTube)

TV for older kids and tweens:

  • “Cousins for Life” (Amazon Prime)
  • “Lab Rats” (Disney+)
  • “Mama K’s Team 4” (Netflix)
  • “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble: Black Panther’s Quest” (Amazon)
  • “Raven’s Home” (Disney)

TV for the whole family:

  • “Black-ish” (Hulu)
  • “Black Lightning” (Netflix)
  • “Grown-ish” (Hulu)
  • “Kenan” (Hulu)
  • “Marvel’s Runaways” (Hulu)

Help Make Juneteenth a National Holiday

Activists have been pushing for decades to make Juneteenth a national day of celebration. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democratic congresswoman from Texas, has repeatedly introduced resolutions that would designate Juneteenth as a full-blown federal holiday. Although the Congress has passed resolutions recognizing the importance of this day, these are just ceremonial and have not resulted in a federal holiday with paid leave for workers.

The most recent legislation was introduced by Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) but it has not yet come up for a vote in the Senate.

You can help by spreading the word, helping raise awareness, and by signing a petition asking for Juneteenth to receive federal recognition.5 Ways You Can Support the Black Lives Matter Movement

A Word from Verywell

Americans celebrate their freedom from England every July 4th, but for many Americans, this holiday is less relatable and doesn’t reflect the injustices that enslaved Black Americans suffered on American soil for years.

Juneteenth reminds us of all of that struggle, and the important progress we have made as a nation since then. It celebrates the bravery and perseverance of Black Americans throughout history and today.

But it’s also an important reminder that the struggle toward racial justice in America is far from over. The Center for American Progress estimates that African American households on average own only one-tenth the wealth of the average white American household, and this inequality has been widening since the Great Recession.4

A Harvard study found that Black people are three times as likely as whites to be killed in a police encounter.5 We can only right these wrongs if we remain committed to the fight for justice and equality.

By remembering the last slaves’ emancipation on the original Juneteenth, we can take pride in how far we’ve come, and recommit ourselves to the ongoing journey forward.The Impact of Race and Racism on Eating Disorders.

When the student meets the teacher …

On Friday, July 2, 2021, the alumni of the Good Genes Genealogical Services, Inc.’s inaugural Intro to Black Genealogy workhsops in February 2021, will present their great research findings. Their presentations will culminate in an hour-or-so webinar that will debut a month from today’s post.

The alumni webinar is a natural progression from the numerous follow up work with each participant seeking additional information or sharing their insight and breakthrough findings.

There is no greater expressions for genealogy teachers to experience than when students learn more and uncover great finds!

This post’s purpose is two-fold:

  1. To announce the upcoming and exciting worldwide webinar via Zoom that is free to all. Times are 10 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. Viewers must register and choose one or all of the asynchronous sessions. Details to come over the next week.
  2. To get the “yes” to this blog from class participants on their progress. All viewers of this blog will also get an idea of the interest from our prospective presenters. They will send emails to us with more details so that we can maintain the details until the debut date.

In all, Cousins Mark and Ann are dedicated to education and direct family research service. Our webinars and other activities will ramp up in earnest.

Thank you for our #1 organizational sponsor: Hillside International Truth Center.

Stay tuned!

“We can see love and joy as we celebrate our ancestors and our history through the eyes of our children.”

Each morning, my goal is to meditate and pray with more integrity and purpose than the day before.

This morning, I reflected upon an opening statement from Hillside International Truth Center’s February 2021’s Daily Thoughts from the Hill. The statement that is highlighted in the headline of this post is a great centering point.

In the name of our ancestors, peace to all.

   Namaskar!(The Spirit in me greets the Spirit in you!)       The spiritual faculty for the month of February is LOVE, and the physical center is the heart. The disciple is John. The color for the month is pink.        Love is the idea of Universal Oneness in Divine Mind. Love is the harmonizing power that brings the world together. Because of the attribute of love to bind, attract, cement, and equalize, we see the Divinity in every person and in all situations. In the face of unrest, discord, and division, it is important that we focus on Love, the great Unifier.
       In the words of Rev. Don Nedd, “The basis for right thinking is love- love of GOD and all that is good in ourselves and others.”The inner voice of love wills us to experience happiness, joy, peace, and forgiveness as a means of finding another way to believe in and see the world. The consciousness of GOD loves everything and everyone equally; we are all loved and forgiven by our Creator. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (St. John 13:34).
       Love is a great filler. It fills our senses throughout life. We can find it in the taste of good food that we share with family and friends, our elders, and those that are homebound, indigent, or homeless. We can hear it in great music and the inspiring words of Dr. Maya Angelou, John Lewis, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bishop Dr. Barbara King. We can feel love in caring for others and seeing the enthusiastic look on their faces.
       We can see love and joy as we celebrate our ancestors and our history through the eyes of our children. We can smell love through the aromas of nature, as we breathe in fresh air, the cleansing water of rain, and the fragrance of flowers and trees. Love is the beautiful manifestation of the presence of GOD in all things.        As we celebrate the power of love, let us listen to the inner voice of love for lasting happiness and peace of mind. This month focus your attention on devoted service, kindness, unselfishness, tender compassion, and goodwill towards all. In so doing, we embody the attribute of Love– as we are one with GOD, one with all life, and one with all humanity.
       “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).AFFIRM: I am a love magnet that attracts health, wealth, and happiness.    
Current senior pastor, Bishop Dr. Jack Bomar with the now transititoned and Founding Bishop Dr. Barbara King

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