What better gift than the gift of family genealogy?

I was busy preparing my holiday cards when my thoughts turned to gift-giving. What is the greatest genealogy gift that I could give to my family? The answer: Ancestral research findings.

Guess what? I, too, received the greatest gift.

I poured through our family ancestry records and discovered great finds via newspapers.com. I attached the newspaper clippings to my family members’ trees and also printed some records to share as part of my gift giving.

The clipping below was part of my gift to Cousin-by-marriage Florida L. Fisher Parker a year ago during the holiday season. She was overjoyed to see this clipping, her marriage license and other related documents that I uncovered through electronic methods. My discoveries also prompted Florida sharing funny and tearful memories about that great day in her life.

My cousin, Ret. Col. Parker and Florida on their wedding day, June 27, 1959

Florida, the widow of Ret. Col. Herbert Gerald Parker, is an enthusiast genealogist. She piqued my interest in genealogy while we all lived in Tallahassee, FL. Typically, I would visit with Florida and we would prepare documents for the family reunion. After the burial of her husband, my cousin, Herb, at Arlington National Cemetery in D.C., Florida chose to live near her daughter and family in Maryland. Distance and COVID-19 restrictions have grounded our travels and frequency of our conversations.

That’s why this year, I bundled up some new finds that are related to her deceased father, Dr. Miles Mark Fisher. During my research of her father, I discovered my greatest gifts.

  • Gift #1: I learned that Dr. Fisher was the author of several books and articles. One of his books, “The Life of Lott Cary” is out of print. It is about the life of a former slave who toiled many years to earn enough to purchase his freedom and that of his family’s. He became a member of the clergy and also ascended into other high places.
  • Gift #2: I learned that Rev. Fisher was the longtime pastor of White Rock Baptist Church, Durham, N.C. It was a church that was widely recognized nationwide and in its community for its social activism and highly touted black businessmen and civil rights leaders as congregants. He also initiated a program that held period racially integrated religious services.
  • Gift #3: I learned that Dr. Fisher was a scholar. He was on faculty at Virgina Union and Shaw University.
  • Gift #4: I learned the young scholar was one of the first “Negroes to receive the Ph.D. degree in philosophy and religion from the University of Chicago.”
  • Gift #5: The joy that the printed articles bring to Florida’s life. She doesn’t use technology, yet, she is fond of receiving information about her family.

By sharing your ancestral findings with loved ones, you are giving the greatest gift of all during this holiday season and throughout the year.

#39 Honoring Black Women’s Suffrage Movement Strength on National Voter Registration Day 2021

Nannie Helen Burroughs (1879 – 1961) urged white and Black women to work together for the right to vote. Her efforts did not result in the equal rights for women to vote when the 1920 amendment was passed and white women were granted the right to vote.

On this day, Sept. 28, 2021, deemed the National Voter Registration Day to encourage the essential act that equalizes all of us, please honor the lives of so many great crusaders and advocates like Nannie H. Burroughs and register to vote.

Nannie H. Burroughs died a few years before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed. It granted my parents and all other Black adults the opportunity to cast votes for the first time in their lives. I’ve voted my entire adult life and could not imagine what our ancestors endured to be a participant in the economic, social and educational systems in this country and yet not have a say in its governance.

Learn about your loved ones and friends who participated in the thousands of Black Right to Vote movements in the United States. There are many more Nannies whose lives are worthy to learn more about.

#38 Story of Muhammad Ali’s first attorney “lost” in the river … her contribution rolls on

The worthy search for ancestors, friends and other loved ones remains important. As newbie or veteran genealogists, the precious lives of ancestors are not always scripted with a pleasant ending. Yet, we are comforted by the achievements of so many pioneers who paved the way for us.

Such is the case of the little-known civil rights pioneer whose work as a Louisville, Kentucky prosecutor earned her a special place in history. Jones was the first attorney for the rising star boxing great Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) by writing his first contract in 1960, she participated in several civil rights marches, including the famed March on Washington in August 1963. She was appointed Louisville City Attorney in 1964 — the first woman of any race and ethnic background to hold that position.

My triumphant Sorority Sister and one of the longtime unsolved mysteries about her death that was caused when she was tossed off the Louisville Sherman Minton Bridge into the Ohio River on August 5, 1965. She was 35 years old.

Sometimes, we receive our “flowers” long after we have departed this earth. That is the case for Jones, who was the first African American female to pass the bar in Kentucky.

There are so many more factoids you should learn about this lady. Take three minutes and read all about her! Look up some of your loved ones who may be fraternity, sorority, church, temple, school, work and other socially related ancestors. You can start your research by building your family trees and searching U.S. Census records for neighbors. It is worth it.

It’s the big things that carry us through life

This image is lasting. There is a direct connectivity between cheering young folk onto their next level and sustained success. Great job, Dads, and the folk who had this idea.


My Memorial Day memories: Former slaves honoring the dead

“They forgot about the colored soldiers,” Grandma Robinson always said without specifying the “who” in her recollections.

I was among the few chosen ones.

I don’t recall ‘sleeping in’ on Memorial Day as a child growing up in Omaha, Nebraska. I do not know how it happened that I was awakened early each Memorial Day Monday to accompany my maternal great-grandmother, Edna Robinson, and at least two other family members to the cemeteries. We arrived early to greet the morning dew upon the grassy knolls. Our task was to place fresh plants near the grave markers of our loved ones.

I vividly recall Grandma Robinson’s words to me and others as she used her tender hands to dig out spaces to place each new plant in the ground. Even though my mother or cousin would bring along tools to help Grandma Robinson with her mini excavations, (the worms would always greet us and seek to find new, cool hiding spaces)she would turn them down.

Grandma Robinson believed in honoring our ancestors by using her hands or a nearby stick, if available, to tend to the soil. While busy in her planting, Grandma Robinson often recalled how former slaves started the tradition of Memorial Day as a way to pay tribute to the black soldiers returning home from the war.

“They forgot about the colored soldiers,” Grandma Robinson always said without specifying the “who” in her recollections.

But I figured out who she was speaking of as I read more and more about Memorial Day, yet did not see the historical references that I first heard from my grandmother.

Grandma Robinson told me a lot more about the importance of remembering those who many forget upon their deaths. Through her example, Grandma Robinson taught me how to kneel upon the earth and dig into its richness. While in a kneeling position, we ALWAYS prayed in a quiet manner. She said prayers should be spoken in soft tones as we walk and work throughout the day. That was my first hint at how Grandma Robinson withstood the likely poor treatment while caring for other folks’ houses and children.

Each year as we returned to the graves of our loved ones, I would look for the plants we plotted in the previous years. Some were completely wiped out by the winter’s snow or other seasonal heat. Some plants were either trampled on or somehow pushed into the dirt where only a tiny flower bud peeped from the ground. Once Grandma Robinson saw a glimmer of life in one of our previously planted vines, she would carefully dig around it and gird it up to continue its growth.

We also did not leave a gravesite area without helping to pull back the grass overgrowth on graves with numbers engraved in cement to mark burial locations. That taught me to look out for my neighbors and honor them with the blessings that we had. Often, if we had a plant or two left over, Grandma Robinson would lead us to a burial site where someone she knew was placed beneath the earth. We always left the cemeteries with empty containers that once carried in the plants.

Learning is loving and respecting and doing. I got it all in my annual visit to the Omaha cemeteries to honor our dead and the legacy of the holiday.

Although I will not be in our maternal family’s home cemetery site in Springfield, Missouri to place a plant in the ground in honor of Grandma Robinson, I know that my family members will do so and thereby honor my grandmother and our ancestors.

Photo: Dr. Rex-wordpress.com

For more information about Memorial Day’s founding and its alternative observances by Confederate-loyal folk, see http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1900454,00.html
And more. Check out remembrances from your eldest family members.

Ann L. Wead Kimbrough is an accomplished educator, award-winning financial journalist, author, special events leader, mentor and prolific contributor to select global and domestic non-profit causes. Her blog topics include travel, history, humor, education, career, family, journalism and ‘thought you should know’ subjects. https://www.linkedin.com/in/annlineve/

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