HAPPY NEW YEAR! Been a bit, as I’ve been hitting the pavement, digging deep, traveling wide and praying on high, blasting through proverbial research Brick Walls, and basking in the inheritance of a multitude of FAMILY!!! *Special shout out to the fantastic Family Reunion efforts of SIMS in New Orleans, the WALSTONS in the Bay Area and the BROWN-REDIC Family ties convening in Las Vegas this year.
We all know that although Family Reunion planning can prove to be challenging, the rewards run long and deep. We have so many reasons more to strengthen our ties, honor our Elders and to motivate the minds of our Youth to carry our traditions forward. I am deeply inspired, and enjoy my newly discovered kinship. I share in the vision to rediscover, rejuvenate and reunite, Family.
Although this Season is considered FALL, Ancient wisdom would reveal that this time of the year IS the New Year. Celebrated Wisdom Teacher, Iyanla proclaims the season to “ALL FALL UP” , to do those things required to get us back in sync with nature, to FALL INTO your purpose. *a’dupe Iya*
I know it to be Odunde in Yoruba, West African Culture, the Harvest or in the Bay Area and some regions Kwanzaa is celebrated honoring First Fruits and thus the fruits of our labor. Among Communal kinship circles, the Fall is filled with a fête season of Ancestral remembrance, perfect for gathering Summer Reunion memories, bringing them forward to share at ceremonial offerings of atonement.
It’s the time to cove, for reflection, to release, and for re-envisioning; The Fall Equinox is my is my favorite time of the year for gratitude, and let me tell you my cup runneth over. I get excited by stepping up my service in the legacy of my Ancestors as Missionaries, Evangelists and Community Workers. Activating my own vehicles of service, I recruit and motivate aligned interests who desire to demonstrate exceptional acts of kindness, to express favor and practice #goodGIVING and Giving thanks, simply.
Bursting with the abundance of wisdom from researching my Family History, continues to fill me. I am grateful for the indomitable Spirit that dwells within me in a long walk of Faith, that transcend from a folk whose daily bread is guided prayer, praise and giving God the Glory.
“Honor the “Walking History” of wealth that dwell among you — Your Elders! Listen, learn, record and chart their stories, we can benefit from their embodied knowledge; We are that much more abundant transcending the yoke of our Ancestors. And if you don’t know that by now, then start counting your blessings, starting with your breath. Drink from the fountain of Ancestral wealth, be full and then refresh the cup of another.”
Research records accessible at County Clerk/Recorder Offices, Libraries, and include contact with your local Genealogical Society.
Look for Family names at Mortuaries, Cemeteries and Funeral Homes onsite and check for an online presence, including Obituary listings.
Think White Pages is out-dated? Think again, some Grandparents and Old School folks still have their Landline or the same cell phone number they first signed up for.
And the wisdom of my Elders share that, “a little manner goes a long way”. When speaking with an Elder, make it your intention to give your undivided attention to the conversation with an open mind and ear. Do take notes and get clearance first to record.
Strengthen your Family Ties! Make a phone call, visit an Elder today; Invest in the time and gain wisdom that transcends time.
Presented by the North Carolina Genealogical Society
An invaluable resource to Southern and African American researchers, encompasses business and personal papers from numerous slave-holding families of the South. Decades of genealogical history, 1st account documents surface to struggling personal accounts of “familial” entanglements. The collection also includes cited instances of the enslaved named and perhaps inheriting property to the counted unnamed and sold into inheritances.
Dallas Public Library Associate and Owner of Black Genesis Genealogical Consulting Company, Ari Wilkin’s presentation will demonstrate the breadth of the collection, how to navigate and apply the records to personal research.
#workingmylines: I accept this challenge and dedicate this initiative to my Ancestral Guardian, my Maternal Grandfather aka “Stuff” hailing from Junction City, Louisiana. Iba’e, Iba’e tonnu
Paternal Grandfather: Claude Waters, Jr
birth: April 6, 1926, Junction City, LA | death: January 13, 1997, Oakland, CA
Claude Waters, Jr was born to the parents of Freadie Brooks and Claude Waters, Sr, both deceased. He accepted Christ at the age of 13 at Fellowship Baptist Church in Junction City, West Carroll Parish, Louisiana. Later he served on the usher board at Mt. Lebanon, in Darnell, LA. Developing a strong work ethic at a young age, he learned how to work on the farm, driving tractors and trucks.
Junction City, LA is the twin City of Junction City Arkansas
The family headed West part of the Second Great Migration, post Depression with aspirations to elevate their economic plight, landing in West Oakland, California. Married to Elsie (Culverson) Waters at age 18, their first home was on Campbell St. and Willow Manor down the street, was the local school his children attended. He obtained early work with industry giant, Owens Illinois Glass Company, during World War II. Drafted for service to the United States Armed Forces for 2 years, my Grandfather later worked at the Oakland Army Base in materials handling as an equipment operator. After furthering his education at Merritt College he worked professionally for the State of California in Landscaping and Highway Maintenance for 26 years, availing the Family
home we know today in what is known as the Fremont area; they were the first Black Family on the block as his children attended the local Fremont Highschool while others attended, Castlemont and Oakland Technical Highschool.
Maybe around 2003, I was bestowed with a rare opportunity to revisit my Grandparents’ first digs on Campbell Street, as it was then owned by enterprising West Oakland “Black moguls” who were acquiring real estate; Through a close friend, I’d also learn that a New Orleans couple that I knew, were slated to purchase it and so I arranged access to take a private tour. By cell phone, my Mom guided me through each room, vividly depicting who stayed where, including her Grandmother “Sug” in the “Mother-in-law” room. When I told my Maternal Grandmother, Mama Elsie of this, we were all pretty excited about the couple of purchasing the home as they were still in escrow, yet my she’d mindfully warn – get the keys!
When my Grandfather transitioned in January 1997, it was like the spoke of a wheel had broken, leaving the wheel to topple over struggling to balance — Family. He was a 25 member of the Masons, with membership to Monarch Lodge #73, Menelik Temple #36 and the Victoria Consistory, he was also the President of the Scimitar Club for 2 years. He was that pillar and visionary who surpassed risks, didn’t accept “I can’t” and firmly encouraged our productivity, progressive action and no-nonsense; he still was a lot of fun and laughs and could out run ALL of his track star grandchildren in jeans, with his house slippers on and a cigarette in his mouth. *smh* My Grandmother called him a “risk-taker” for which we are all grateful to him to this day, as we STILL remain property owners in Oakland.
If it weren’t for the positive encouragement of my Grandparents, I wouldn’t have taken such a dedicated interest in Family History extending to Geneaological research. Upon many attempts I’ve worked to crack “the mystery” surrounding my Grandfather’s paternal line. I’ve heard the ‘lore of half-sisters one day, estranged family members asking for money another day, yet NO NEW INFO today, this is where Ancestral grace will kick in. Some years back, I did learn from his draft registration card, his Father,
Commemorating Lo’Eshe Lacy, killed in a West Oakland shooting at age 16 @hoodline.com
Claude Waters, Sr was previously married to a Daisy Rose and the next of kin listed on the card was a “Raiford”“Rayford” ; In subsequent searches there’d be an absence of any information between the 1920’s and 1930’s, although I’ve located residence info cited in the 1930 U.S. Census. I’ve been poking in and around neighbor surnames on Census records as well, and even super-sleuthing information surrounding my great grandfather’s first wife Daisy Rose-Waters her 2nd husband and son , with no avail to any additional information.
According to my Elder Uncle, my Great-Grandfather would not speak of his parents, it was said he was pretty hush-hush about his Family. Yet, my Grandfather’s life quest was to learn more about his paternal side – this quest was bequeathed unto me before he died. I’ve stay in the works to this date, destined to unearth the answers. And with the introduction of DNA testing, I have tenaciously encouraged, prayed, and coached 2 generations of our treasured Y-chromosome WATERS Men to rise to the occasion and help crack this Family code — my fingers are still crossed. // #workingmylines
archive photo:Owens Illinois Glass Company founded in Oakland, CA 1946 as plant number 20, drawing many to the West for war-time work, including my Grandfather; eventually the company was re-assigned as Owens-Brockway Glass Container Company for which my Brothers and I worked various shifts in East Oakland as teenagers.
#workingmylines — Such a wonderful way to share my Genealogy boudoir of stories about my Ancestors. I’ve accepted the #52Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge created by Professional Genealogist Amy Johnson Crow serving as a boost for those of us with aspirations to write Ancestral memoirs or a book; It’ll also serve as a creative outlet to elevate our narratives that educate Family about our Ancestors. My formal posts will be on Mondays weekly, yet with this pre-launch I begin with one of our foremost celebrated Matriarchs, whose 1st year observance of transition date recently transpired. My Auntie Selyah remains timeless near my heart. #givepraisetolife
Maternal Aunt: Selyah Glenn Waters
birth: July 24, 1948, Oakland, CA | death: May 30, 2017, Oakland, CA
My Second Mother My Mother’s 1st Sister, Middle-child Aunt Selyah…
Daughter, Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother, Iyakekere (Community Mother)
💛I grew up adoring this beautiful Black Priestess, ready for the World before most; She dared the Mysteries, challenged Drum rhythms, reasoned with Nyabinghi Rasta Elders, and danced in the fire, YES I; She spoiled us on Black-skillet-pineapple-upside-down-cake, intrigued us with ghost stories and always let me play in her fantastic wardrobe.
🔮Auntie introduced me to OHM, Jambalaya, A Course in Miracles and eating red clay; Auntie was a Warrior Spirit, Healer, Teacher, Root Woman, and Bebe to a 3-generation tribe, with a deeper heart that challenged the hearts of Men and those of us who loved her.
🌹In her anchor legged-years, She allowed me to care for her through playful resistance and sometimes brave fights; She got to Love Jamaica one last time, not before invoking the sweetest Love blessing atop of my head, a Family Matriarch first.
🗝I honor Her for such life-altering gifts, I transcend Her wisdom and blaze healing trails of ascension for our Matrilineal heritage. I Love you Auntie Selyah…still missing you in such a divine and personal way, grateful you are ascending, prayerful we all continue to do so. ~Selah
Traditional Dances steeped in West and Central African spiritual traditions, has invoked
DNA wisdom within me since the womb. I indentify with Òsùmàrè [Oxumaré – Brasilian Candomble] known as the “rainbow spirit” of Yoruba traditions holding dominion over the heavens and the earth bearing dual qualities of male and female; Òsùmàrè is the umbilical life-line of continuity’; this embodied concept permeates throughout the island of Haiti — undulating dance movements of Yanvalou, honoring the divine serpent duo known as lwa, Ayida-Wedo and Damballah-Wedo; where rainbow showers and white offerings activate writhing, from the cerebral cortex winding down to the coccyx. And in the Ancient star systems of the Dogon peoples exist the serpentine symbolism of the “double-helix”.
America’s noted discovery of DNA’s double helix in 1953, propelled a Congressional proclamation called National DNA on April 25, 2003. This initiative transcended into an anniverserial event carried forward by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), now celebrating it’s 15th year.
DNA testing is a powerful tool for identification. ~DNA Diagnostics Center
DNA testing made accessible for home use?! seemed almost unbelievable. For African Americans on their quest to find their ROOTS marked an important benchmark in Family History Research. Yet, long before I considered taking a DNA test I needed to consider a few things:
1st Exorcise historical Family ‘lore, fears and myths concerning taking such a test, in light of how much surplus blood I’ve given at a many Doctor and or Medical visits.
2nd I actually LOVE biology and particularly became fond of our Genetics component, in High school. Although I was aware of MESA [Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement] my Mom was actually a Health and Safety Lab technician at Lawrence Berkeley Labs and anything less than an ‘A’ in Biology and Chemistry was unacceptable.
3rd It became apparent that I needed to immerse myself, so I took workshops with Field leaders and binged on very accessible tutorials by Ancestry.com on youtube.com. Learning about the discoveries of other African American Genealogists and Family Historians heightened my determination. It was the dynamic delivery of Mr. Shannon Christmas, experienced genealogist specializing in genetic, colonial American, and African-American genealogy in Virginia and the Carolinas, that tipped my scales. He’s well-versed, studied and a dynamic lecturer whose sought out expertise and encouragement invoked me to buy 23andMe immediately after his lecture at #Rootstech2017, Salt-Lake City, Utah. Since then, 4 generations of my maternal line are tested. I’ve taken a second test with Ancestry.com and planning my 3rd effort through FamilyTreeDNA.
Soooo, over 1500 DNA matches later, I am a deep diver of Family History research and highly advise that working YOUR lines is a must, as it often said by experts that Genealogy and DNA testing goes hand-in-hand. And while waiting for your results to come back, make certain to interview your walking history – the Elders in your Family and continue to build your tree. In special cases of adoption, I can share that DNA testing will enhance your investigation, along with Genea-friend kin support, with select educational online sources; Consider every piece of information as a clue towards your find. To this day, I’ve be in the service to locate biological parentage of cherished friends and DNA matches who are adopted; If there ever was a testimony to share, this area of Genealogy, DNA testing bears powerful impact of transformation.
That being said, take all of these cues of inspiration and further your right to learn about your birthright through your Ancestral codes. Testing opportunities are accessible, available and now on SALE. ~ workingmylines.org #workingmylines
#workingmylines Raw and Rooted! My fast-paced race walk on a journey has now gained wings, as I prepare to join thousands more to RootsTech 2018Genealogy/Technology Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Ancestors are on the mainline and await your call…I am tried and TRUTH that no boundaries and no brick wall can keep you from your birthright.
#workingmylines from another angle, about 2-3 years ago I came across a U.S. Census document bearing the GULLEY surname of my maternal Family side. When I gleaned the record to learn that two of the Family members’ birthplace was cited “Africa” I was stunned! This was 1880, after emancipation and during an era in U.S. Census history where the names of the formerly enslaved were listed, beginning in 1870 for some areas. I held onto the document until I could corroborate shared Ancestry.
Recently, I watched the PBS series hosted by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr “Finding Your Roots” featuring a segment on Producer and Grammy award-winning band member of The Roots, Questlove. A most compelling breakthrough in his Family history research was a similar document like mine citing “Africa” as the birthplace of his 3rd great-grandparents Charlie and Maggie LEWIS, my eyes bucked! Minutes later the episode whisked us through a phenomenally well-documented sojourn all the way to the Kingdom of Dahomey, today known as the Republic of Benin where a Southern planter “bought” and “illegally” shipped over 100 Africans on the “Clotilde”, 5 decades after the slave trade was abolished. What an extended version of a first time session, learning about your Family History all the way to the Motherland and back.
Distant cousins would then give Questlove a rare glimpse seeing that “his eyes” bear a strong Family resemblance to his Ancestor, Charlie LEWIS.
By association, the historic proportions of this story are equally compelling to that of Cudjoe LEWIS, the last known survivor of the slave ship “Clotilde”. Being shipped to the sharecropping South as a teenager, after tireless attempts to return home, his clan eventually founded Mobile, Alabama’s historical “Africa town” with many of his descendants still living today as learned through Genealogist expert and #BlackProGen, Angela Raji Walton’s blog post-Jul. 2014 “The Heartache of Cudjoe Lewis”:http://bit.ly/2DqrhaE.
*whew* I was super excited and inspired by all of this, most certainly rocking the airwaves of PBS as well as the world of Genealogy; I anxiously fetched that “GULLEY” Census document
pulling an all-nighter determined to make sense of twirling Family branches, contacting member trees on Ancestry.com, vetting, corroborating, creating timelines [thank you Ms. Shelly Murhpy] prayers, intuition and taking cues from Ancestral hunches. And by dawn, I learned that those GULLEYS are indeed my continental African Ancestors.
Although I share a very truncated version of this story, today I remark that my research was straight paper, no DNA testing…Genealogical research is imperative in concert with additional technological and scientific methods. I immerse myself in study sessions, intensives and conference study that advance my expertise, often gaining cutting-edge
strategies that produce genealogical research break thru. Since 2013 #Dancestory2013 aka #nzoCALIFAncestry has been my trajectory of Community service, to illuminate the embodied Ancestral knowledge vested in Dance, Drum, and Cultural Artists in the Bay Area or those with guided intention to learn about their Ancestors.
My Maternal Matriarch is tenacious about learning and teaching Family History. And as I’ve just learned that my Grandmother’s DNA reports are in, my GULLEY Ancestral Matriarchs have shown me that when you call their names, they bless you with unimaginable wisdom, serving as your birthright.
I truly encourage your support as your Genealogy emissary and Community Ambassador, please continue to GIVE and SHARE these good works forward.
#nzoCALIFAncestry is my Community platform for cultivating Genealogy kinship and Ancestral/Communal Healing initiatives.
On a rainy Sunday, November 26, 2017, one enters the double doors of the Community Room of the Oakland Main Public Library, [OPL] interested to research their Family History, open for messages and possibilities. By the day’s end [literally] the room had indeed been imbued by an early evening of compelling Family stories shared, stories passed down and some in fragments; one attendee brings 2 stacks of Family data research, another brings a table long chart of her Family Tree – this session is primed. #RiteOn
We began this day getting right to work to chart our Family tree on a template provided, instrumental to guide the attendees’ next steps in their research. The room was prayed up and prepared to receive 16 faithful and determined Family members who openly gave voice to their Ancestors’ by calling out their names, as those in the room who shared a common surname echoed back in response:
We also cite the places our Ancestors traveled and sojourned; including those who were shipped and or sold away, migrated through many regions, across waters, trails, and areas such as:
Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Texas, Texarkansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Chile, China, Haiti, Ireland, Italy, Liberia, Mexico, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Scotland, and California.
As our aural senses were briefly disturbed by outside bellows of anger and resentment being ushered out of the Library’s temporary cove, we braced ourselves and re-centered with deeper focus. [Bless ’em] Each member was steadfast to share their story, even with gentle time warnings. [I, feeling like biting my nails, carefully glancing at the time] I stay mindful recognizing that the room had become safe space. For some, it was their first time and their hearts desire to find a Father or learn more about that unknown great from the South, while others wanted to expand a Family line — all knowing that everyone in the room is genuinely listening with shared intentions in kinship; As a Genealogist / Teaching Artist I was elated, and as a conductor I respectfully surrendered to the process.
My keychain arsenal holds over 23 library cards from throughout the country, I love libraries! It was a distinct pleasure to introduce the OPL’s Genealogy and Historical Records online to aid in their Family History research. With some surprised and others eager to dive in, the time had prospered forward to put research into motion, and so we began with the Ancestry.com’s Library Edition. Each attendee started with “that Ancestor” and was guided through each search prompt, aided by a few additional tips to advance the search in cases of the unknown:
Add Mother and Father or sibling
List the State and Country if you don’t know City
Estimate birth and death year
List known resident locations
Clarify “Race/Nationality” prompt [Ancestry.com]
The minute each attendee, pushed Ancestry’s “search button” a quiet stir hit the room; heads were hunched down tenaciously gleaning U.S. Census records to locate “that Ancestor”. According to the nation’s “oldest record keeper” the National Archives and Records Administration [NARA]
“Census records can provide the building blocks of your research, allowing you to both confirm information, and to learn more.” ~ NARA website
I’ll add that Census takers are human too *wink*. In the next moment, an unknown Father’s information was located; Hmmm looks like there’s more than one Family member with the same name, how could this be true? Another’s Family line extends a generation, while further research by a 1st session attendee, leads to documents from the Philippines corroborating her “Tan” connection.
[now we’re over time] A school bell rings in my head, reminding me of my Mama Georgia’s saying “Play time is ovah, time to come on in”. As a Professional Dance Teacher, I now urgently give cues to relentless minds now locked in on finding out more and announce to make preparations to gather in a circle. The room was now filled, and so was every attendee filled with discoveries made possible by their Ancestor’s presence. I’m deeply humbled, I am too filled, yet remain reticent to skillfully guide us into the ’round — hands clasped, hearts full, Ori-centered to release, give thanks, align and “Give Praise to Life”. *breath*
Egun Ire’o, Egun Iba’se //R. Califa Calloway, #nzoCALIFAncestry
Follow my latest campaign and Sophomoric journey to the Genealogy Mega-Conference #Regina2RootsTech2018, Salt Lake City Utah; I’m cultivating Genealogy / Family History/ Ancestral kinship sessions and taking names to advance my expertise and training in Genealogical methods, research strategies, and Technology.
#nzoCALIFAncestry Genealogy kinship service welcomes Cultural Presentations, Conference and Panel invite; I am enthusiastic about Intentional Retreats & Inner-Circle gatherings that facilitate Communal & Ancestral Healing works. Dedicated to restoring Family Charters, I partner in Personal Development and Transformation initiatives as Family Reunions and Family gatherings are a fave. Contact me today, and let’s envision.
The latest addition to “OUR READ” section of this blog. On the ground accounts unearthing revealing perspectives serving to clarify the historical lens concerning African American Ancestories. Your off-line work is critical towards your Family History research and genealogical sojourn. ~@workingmylines360 #RIF
Most recently I took on the commission of installing an Ancestral Community altar paying homage to beloved Arts and Cultural leaders who’ve transitioned into the Ancestral realm, all-knowing that this calling was a whole lot greater than the actual work. Thinking from a genealogical perspective led me to the daunting task to actually research sunrise and sunset dates associated with the names located. Eventually, another tier added to these efforts was to locate the place of birth and place of death.
Reared, educated, trained, performed, in the richness of the Bay Area’s Cultural landscape, my honing grounds is that of the African Dance and Drum Community in Oakland, California preceded by my Mother. [see nzoCALIFA dance.blog post] Mentored as a Cultural gatekeeper, now prospering these gifts into a Dance mediumship for service, I envision this opportunity for Ancestral and Communal healing, a mission shared by 2 of my Dance kinship who serve as co-commissioners for Oakland’s Life is Living Festival: African in Oakland – Dance Zone. United we bring into focus, The Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, celebrated Arts portal and cultural cradle place nationally renown also represents for us as “Nzo”, our house, village house and or sacred home, with a mission to elevate its vitality by intentionally honoring our beloved transitioned, treasuring their contributory gifts today.
Immediately the need is to remember our dead transitioned and restore Ancestral rites of atonement in the Community. Approaching this process like a “Spiritual Architect” coin-phrased by Pastor Yolanda Batts of Brooklyn’s Celebration Spiritual Center, I bring my tools as a Field Research Genealogist to the table, ready to shed light upon those good folks who I’ve known through my Oakland Village of African Dance, Drum, and Culture — more than just to say their names, it is important to share their stories cultivating the wealth of knowledge already invested in the Community and to encourage such exchange among each other. From a collected roster of names collected, over 40 to date and growing, my first attempt guided me to research an International comrade who used to wail the call of Zulu warriors with songs of Freedom envisioning the unification of Africa. As an expatriate of apartheid South Africa, I also learned that Brother Sechaba J. Mokoena was a touring member of critically acclaimed South Africa musical “Ipi N’Tombi” eventually defecting to the United States in the 80’s, becoming a resident of the Bay Area.
#nzoCALIFAncestry:I located the record above, showing Brother Sechaba’s birthdate and as a resident of Oakland, California, North Oakland, known as the Upper Telegraph area today; he flourished as a founding member of prominent South African Cultural Groups, Zulu Spear band, and U-Zulu Dance Theatre, always keeping his vision of a United Africa. I am still locating his death date, I have an approximate year based off my recollection at the former Citicentre Dance Theatre back in 2004.
And if ever there’d be a living archive so true to date, that’d capture his views, this video documentary discovered from online research delivers! Listen to the message and learn more about Brother Sechaba. AMANDLA Brother Sechaba Mokoena!
Give praise to life. ~R. Calloway, #workingmylines
#nzoCALIFAncestry: Continued works, documenting and preserving beloved Communal Ancestors transitioned from the Malonga Center Community legacy. Installed at Life is Living Festival and “Library Edition” Oakland Public Library