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
My Grandmother Mama Elsie is the Family History keeper on my maternal side – She has a mind keen like machete for these details. Thus as a result, generations of names are noted to record on both the COLEMAN and CULVERSON side of her lineage – WEST CARROLL PARISH LOUISIANA along with a legacy of Annual Family Reunions. On December 20th, our Family was bestowed with the esteem honor to elevate Our Family Matriarch celebrating 90 years upon this earth! A stellar initiative launched by her children a call to task for us grandchildren and the greats to follow through and a lesson for the great-greats to observe this all important rite. Over 100 attended in gathering December 20th at San Leandro’s Marina Inn in California from near and far warmed by long-time friends and Community kin. And you can imagine the food and faire that took place. We were ALL moved, graced and adorned by an abundance of wisdom of the day. I am still FULL and now introduce to you…
Ms. Elsie Waters aka “Mama Elsie”
December 24, 1924 – Darnell, Louisiana
Elsie is the daughter of Mabel Coleman and Grover Cleveland Culverson, born in Darnell, Louisiana December 24, 1924. She is the granddaughter to James Gabe and Hattie B Coleman on her maternal side and Papa Mel and Edna Gulley Culverson on her paternal side. Elsie attended and graduated Magnolia High School in Pioneer, Louisiana, then proceeded to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Later she migrated to Oakland California and obtained employment as a Storekeeper Manager at the Oakland Naval Supply. Soon after she attended Merritt College and received a Business Certificate in Accounting.
Her work history includes various employment with the Federal Government such as the Oakland Army Base and Internal Revenue Service working clerical for 12 years and for Alameda County Social Services as a Social Eligibility Tech, with her final working stint at Alameda County Medical Center as a Patient Billing Technician for sixteen years, ultimately retiring in 1989.
Elsie was married to Claude Waters Jr. (deceased) for over 52 years. She is the mother of five children (one deceased), thirteen grandchildren, twenty-three great grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren. Elsie served on the board of directors and regional club council with her retirement union. She was an active member of the International Training Communication Council, Regional Club and held the office of President, as well as other positions.
“God has blessed me to travel to many wonders of the world (international abroad and domestic) with my Family and fellow travel companions, Bertha and Brenda Byes, Evelyn and Jimmie Wesley and Mr. Benny. We’ve traveled to places such as Cairo, Egypt, Ghana, Sedona Arizona, Cuba and Canada. We had many wonderful adventures such as riding camels and taking a cruise across the Nile River.”
Never forgetting her roots, Elsie often traveled cross-country, back to her native Louisiana. Mama Elsie’s highlights in the last few years were her travel to the Philippines accompanied with grandson Jon. Elsie had the privilege of a travel excursion to South Africa with her cousins and the choir from the Church of Eastbay. They had the very special honor to meet Nelson Mandela and his wife. It was a great excitement to South Africa for the sights, culture and lifestyles of the people.”
Her hobbies include reading, music, fishing and cooking. She also enjoys attending her home church, Acts Full Gospel, nurturing her Spiritual relationship with God. Mama Elsie shares:
“I am blessed that the Lord has spared me to be able to see 90.” “God Bless and keep you all, continue to enjoy your Life, counting your blessings along the way.”
originally scribed by: Katie Waters, daughter
edited/updated by: Regina “Califa” Calloway, granddaughter
foto: @realsway on Instagram, grandson
I am moved and grounded by reading a good book. As much as I love to surf the web, research online or build social media formats, I love the adventuresome qualities of of collecting books of interests and find that buying or gifting books is an invaluable investment. In my Genealogy works before there was internet, I frequented libraries, museums and institutions for information in researching my Family History, while learning about historical elements associated with my heritage. With the introduction of Technology and subsequent passages of the Freedom of Information Acts, [FOIA] Genealogy has become a billion dollar business captivating our attention, our minds and in some cases eclipsing invaluable connections like face-to-face contact, while shortening the attention spans of some presuming that they “don’t have time for reading.” Libraries, Museums and Historical Institutions are the great halls of information equally valuable as our online technological cohorts.
Most recently, I was an organic conduit for bridging a trio of these components:
Read a Book
Save A Library
Dr. Kimbwandende Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau Rest in Power Dr. Fu Kiau Bunseki
“The ancestors are not dead. They are not gone. Their energy is…”
[Sunrise April 9, 1934 – Sunset November 29, 2013 ]My Tata takes his seat upon the throne in the realm of the Ancestors. Kongo Cosmology has been a grounding force in unearthing vital keys of my Ancestry, healing and honoring the rhythmic cycles of life and therefore the universe. One moment with my Teacher Dr. Fu-kiau, was like sitting in a world of libraries; each word uttered represented several novels filled with mysteries of sacred knowledge made accessible to its front door. He ushered scores of students and naysayers into dimensions of enlightenment surrounding deep wisdoms of our ancients and its transcendental effects upon our lives today. Born in Minianga, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dr. Fu-Kiau was one of the foremost scholars of African Spiritual traditions producing a cadre of books serving as primers for deeper study into these traditions. As one of last initiated of his generation into the coveted Lemba Secret Society, the foundation for many Diaspora tributaries of Bantu practices, has been pivotal in unearthing cultural heritage customs, ties and traditions still retained amongst Omo-Afrika of Cuba, Haiti, Brasil to name a few, including the United States.
At the gate, Dr. Fu-kiau ignited within me personal empowerment with an awakening purpose to seek, honor and achieve that for which already belongs to me by birthright, profoundly emphasizing its inherit ties to the Universe and beyond. As I am still processing his transition, my thoughts swiftly begins navigate strewn works for which I must begin to tie — bit by bit, honoring every breath, I accept the pact made so long ago. Matondo Tata, Matondo Nsambi *Simba Simbi*
[ in kinship the link above offers tribute to Dr. Fukiau, by Eyon Biddle, Sr @biddleisbold ]
2019 Note: With gratitude forward, these, reflections STILL speak Today, the 10th Anniversary Ancestral remembrance of my Father. And the abundance of Family has grown tremendously with Family History Research: Harris, Buggs, Robinson, Welch, Kennedy, Lynch, Hunter, Walston, VanHooks, Bennett, L(i)evingston & Howard. I also share an amendment to my Tree confirming my 3X Great Grandparents as Jesse Calloway & Celia Calloway of Alabama, cited on the death certificate of their son my GG-GFA-George Calloway. #workingmylines is a fantastic journey of healing. I invite you to read on and #givepraisetolife.
Oct. 8, 2013, California — This walk of my life strongly reflects an aspect parallel to my Father’s journey, post fatherhood. Before I knew him as my Father, I learned that he was born in Summerfield, LA, the youngest of 4, migrated to California at a young age with his Mother and Father, who later separated. In high school, he met my Mother on rebound and patiently courted, charming her into dating and eventually on “their 1st time” — then there was me. I learned that my birth was filled with the trials of a young Mother, classically partnered with a man facing the daunting responsibility of Fatherhood, both determined to “do the right thing.” And thus, the two were married 2 months before my birth. They loved, learned, struggled, and endured trials and triumphs to the tumultuous. Both were Louisiana reared in a traditional custom of staunch Family support by Grands and Greats to Uncles and Aunties. My childhood was school everyday to church all Sunday; planting peas, making preserves to sewing and starching a shirt; running track to running the household chores; Friday fish fry to Family Reunions; from Black Power to Vietnam; cake walks, frog legs and “roaches” the kind that walked and the kind that made you “talk funny”. My parents eventually divorced when I was 5 years old. –Bless them
At 5, with broom and belt in tow, I became instant lil’ mama, as I begin sweeping the house warning my brothers to behave — accepting a high sense of responsibility becoming independent and self-sufficient by default. Often times my Father would resurface in my life phantom-like to instill the “fear of God” in me, and remind me to never forget to take care of my younger brothers. While my maternal Grandparents were like my second parents on loan, my paternal Grandmother was a brash, wig wearing’, God-fearing’, church-going, haughty high-cheeked Lady who did not take to repeating herself. She still lives where I grew up and had remarried a good-natured man named Brown, he transitioned some years back.
Although well-versed in Family History on my maternal side, I’d always wonder where my paternal grandparents came from and what was their story. Although my Grandmother and Brown were very good to us, she was very protective about talking about the past and didn’t speak too favorably of my biological grandfather. It wasn’t until after a severe stroke that, my Father’s “road home” revealed a potential loss to gain access about this side of my Family history. However, at that time, my priority was to make certain his transition would be in the best care, knowing that he was well loved. These preparations availed him the most fortunate moment before his passing — a reunion to make peace with the only Family he created. After 30 years, we’d convene by his bedside: my Mother, his only wife and his 3 adult children.
On October 8, 2009, about 4-something in the morning, my Father took leave in peace and in sweet ease, with his children lightly sleeping at his bedside. We spearheaded his Home-going ceremony, which was attended by both sides of his Family, friends, Homelessness advocates and scores of cousins. The most profound presence at the ceremony, was his grieving mother who was compelled to sing an impromptu hymn to a now captivated audience. Her haunting message in the midst of the song – “… the bell has rung children, playtime is over! Time to come on in.” I was pleased to receive a letter from my paternal Uncle’s church in Houston, as his Sister the Evangelist delivered “The Word”. One of the most heartfelt moments at the Home-going was a down-to-earth letter submitted by an older cousin read aloud by my younger Brother, before the church; It revealed a rare glimpse as to what Our Father really thought of us — in some cases unbeknownst to us.
Of Heart and Home: In 2009, I also took leave, feeling somewhat displaced and needed to truly grieve as one of my cosmological poles had now fallen. During this period, in some ways like my Father, I submitted myself to a vulnerable path, accepting a vow of benevolence, and wanted to increase my action of faith, determined to shake the sediment of emotional transgressions inherited by Family ties. With faith forward, I needed to strip and re-visit the depths of me and as a result my landscape changed swiftly…including home. In the beginning, I found the most comfort in a friend’s car, couches, palettes, or sometimes a prepared room honoring my path. Along the way, I cleansed, listened and mirrored testimonies a many, from West Oakland to Harlem, New Orleans and back. Often reflecting and wondering if the works “took” – wondering, “ How is Daddy? or “Is he close? ” or sometimes thinking, “…maybe I don’t want to know.”
Picking back up “the lines” of my Family History from past research, I began honing my skills participating in a workshop in Harlem at the Schomberg Research for Research in Black Culture and the New York Public Main Library, conducted by the local Black Genealogy chapter Jean Sampson Scott AAGHS-NY chapter. Upon first investigative attempt, not only did I come across a record of my Maternal great grandmother for the first time, later upon Ancestry.com census records, I’d quickly unravel at least 4 generations of patriarchal Calloways, whom I never met nor heard of except for my grandfather when I was two — I was completely stunned. Ever so critical, the code had been cracked. Since then, I have discovered scores of Calloways, centenarians even and enjoy a close relationship with my Father’s brother, my Uncle James.
On this 4th Anniversary in observation and reverence of my Father’s transition, I infused the sparkling highlights of the ocean’s waves — I listen, petition and speak, marveling at the enormity of its breadth and depth where Souls dwell, pacts are made and Mami washes woes away in exchange for well wishes — T’ache’o. I smile, because even at 5 years old, I knew my Father had to go and I mentally held space for him. It’d be 4 years later after his death, that I’d recognize that my culminating trek today, somewhat remarked an aspect of my Father’s path (metaphorically speaking) who once said to me, “…you know I just had to drop out of the system and deal with myself.”
I’d find out later that he was a “mover and shaker” of the Coalition on Homelessness advocating for housing, shelter, Street Sheet program and affordable SRO’s for people in need, and so much more. I remember 2 months before his final departure, he’d painstakingly share how he’d watch our evolution, the shame of not being present, his pride and regretting the time wasted to make it right. As I witnessed this narrow opening of painful truth, he shared that we had made it upon our own merits and felt he could not take any credit for that, except that we were Calloways. He had always been proud that his offspring would be the crowning glory of his legacy on earth.
[smile] This re-tell for me used to be heart-wrenching to share. However, learning that the heart is a working vessel, I’d strive to become stronger in love, light and of sweet ascension – today regaining a stronger sense of home, with his Ancestral presence ever so strong, in truth testament. ~Thank you Daddy, Love, Gina…
~The after-life dream~
Him: [retort] Whose do you belong to?
Me: [bewildered] You Daddy
Him: Alright then… [storms out]
REEEEE-MIIIIX – Genealogists serve in a multitude of professional arenas. In the capacity as Curatorial Director, I was privy to participate in the stellar artistic works and exchange of Muisi-kongo Malonga’s “Kimpa Vita” creation. Daunting, yet always guided we prayed, researched and gathered oral narratives from Congo to California, combed scholarly works and built compelling stories focused upon 3 iconic travesties of justice involving African American Women. The particular stories chosen, we felt resonated with the movement and demise of our central figure Kongolese Matriarch and Warrioress – Mama #KimpaVita of old Kongo Kingdom.
The solo chore-opera first debuted as an excerpt, at San Francisco Counter Pulse Performing Diaspora 2nd 4-day weekend showing, witnessed by 3 sold-out audiences. Wearing the “Directorial” hat was like balancing a 50lb laundry basket upon my head. Yet through stealth training and mentorship, I focused on balance determined to obtain evidence unearthing associated documents. To my surprise, my discovery included rare graphic depictions concerning these African American Women dating back to as early as 1865 for one, an actual audio recording of American Folk singer Woody Guthrie, and a state sponsored historical marker citing the lynching rampage of the times in 1918.
Born 14 months after the Laura and L.D. Nelson lynching, Woody Guthrie’s own father, then a local politician was actually associated with the lynching and the heinous crime of these times, ultimately chronicled into a postcard. Guthrie wrote a song called “Don’t Kill My Baby & My Son” and gives his crackling retell of story along with the accounts leading to the Nelson lynchings. The song wails in agony…
Not content to believe that Ms Laura’s story starts with lynching and ends with death, I further discover a blog dedicated to her aptly named “The Nelson Lynching of 1911 @Okemah, Oklahoma” also bearing genealogy research for Laura’s husband, giving some idea as to how the two came to be united and ultimately divided. [see link below]
I remember thinking the whole time, “Who are the descendants of these matriarchs and what are the surviving legacies arising from their marked death?” Equally thrilling was to discover active initiatives and commemorative efforts that raise awareness and bring to the forefront these injustices, engaging ongoing activism that combat violence against Women. The #KimpaVita project speaks veneration, and is a powerfully artistic offering to elevate these Spirits through Muisi-kongo’s dynamic mediumship for birthing the stories. Regarding the reveal of these historical accounts concerning the African American Women, it exposed such an inherit ignorance about an abominable era of American History and at the same time de-mystified Mama Kimpa Vita, provoking more people to want to know herstory deserving to be known through her own rites – WAH!
And my #DANCESTORY2013? Its been a fast track, as I’m currently preparing my case scenarios for further research and engagement with genealogy kinship. About the next leg of travel, I’ve added #AK to the #MSY sojourn! I invite You to join the sojourn and support the project that invokes more stories deserving to be preserved, starting with my own. Updates right here: http://bit.ly/1e56YML
~Regina Califa Calloway
nzo.califa Dance Works
“Working Da Lines: Dancestory2013″
About the Artist: Muisi-Kongo Malonga
August 11th – 16th — Oakland, CA: Historic week as Oakland is the Dance place for the 2013 Dunham Certification Technique Workshops held befittingly at the Laney College Dance Department, whose legacy lauds such Dance luminaries as Bay Area Pioneer Ruth Beckford, former member of Dunham Company, Department Founder- Elendar Barnes, Lynn Coles– Dept Chair for over 10 years, Sister Linda Johnson, West African Dance Pioneer, Linda Faye Johnson, Caroline Himes, Jacqueline Burgess, legacy Dance Educators and serving Department Chairs to name a few, today carried forward by Artistic trailblazers Andrea Vonny Lee, Co-Chair and Colette Eloi, Haitian Dance/ Dunham Technique Dance Teacher.
June 2006 marked another important benchmark for Laney College, producing a “Living Birthday Card” of 97 dancers to showcase the Northern California legacy Katherine Dunham. Truly an ethereal experience captured by photographer Alan “Kimara” Dixon [click link] June ’06 -NorCAL -Dunham Legacy and choreographed by Colette Eloi, as we performed Yanvalu dance of Haiti first brought to the United States by Miss Dunham in the 30’s drawing from her extensive research in the Caribbean [see “Island Possessed”]. This initiative was spearheaded by Ms. Ruth Beckford, Dunham Biographer, Matriarch of the Dunham Technique in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area and Honorary Chair of the Katherine Dunham Legacy Project of Northern California, included an unveiling of the “Dunham Legacy Tree,” displaying several generations of Dunham teachers in Northern California – it remains a humbling sight to see the roots of your training and the supporting branches that are so responsible for your continued growth- I am ever so grateful to my beloved Dancestors Paula McCullum and Alicia Pierce.
This year’s event opener welcomed its public and Dunham students from all over the country to convene at a Free Dunham Symposium led by Dr. Halifu Osumare, Institute Co-Director, featuring presentations on the life and legacy of Katherine Dunham, along with scholarly presentations on the significance of her dance technique. Indeed to witness the Master Class taught by lifetime Dunham practitioner, Dr Albirda Rose, Institute Founder, Trainer and Educator, in rare fashion demonstrate technique mastery sharing along the way in her teaching narratives actual experience with Dunham, identify the evolution of four generations of the technique, often referring to Ms. Beckford and took the students upon a complete #Dance journey – equally beneficial to the observer and a wonderful challenge for students alike – the class accompanied by Mozel Zeke Nealy, Jr Master percussionist and tradition-bearer in Bay Area Haitian Cultural Arts presentation for over 20 years. The finale of the week?! A Dunham showcase and Award Ceremony: Friday August 16th at the Laney College Gymnasium
You are encouraged to bask in the living legacies, rare training opportunity and share in a Dance journey learning “A Way of Life” of Katherine Dunham, Cultural Ambassador, civic activist and Humanitarian. / ~nzo.califa
SUN. Aug 11, 1:00-5:00 Free DUNHAM SYMPOSIUM [Laney College Forum]
Featuring presentations on the life and legacy of Katherine Dunham, along with scholarly presentations on the significance of her Dance technique.
MON.-THUR. Aug. 12-15, 2:00-3:30 Laney Smart Classroom: Dunham Lecture-Discussions ($5), featuring with Dr. Halifu Osumare.
FRI. Aug 16, 7:00 PM (Laney College Gymnasium): DUNHAM SHOWCASE AND AWARD CEREMONY ($10), featuring Dunham-inspired choreography and presentation of the 2013 Legacy Keeper and Certified Instructor Awards.
PUBLIC DANCE CLASSES
Sun. Aug. 11, 5:00-7:00 PM | Dunham [Laney College Dance Studio] Beginning-Intermediate Master Dance Class, ($15), taught by Dr. Albirda Rose, Director of Dunham Technique Certification.
Mon–Thurs, Aug. 12-15, 3:45-5:30 PM [Laney College Dance Studio] Beginning Dunham Technique ($5), taught by Certification Candidates.
Mon–Thurs., Aug. 12-15, 7:00-8:30 PM [Laney College Dance Studio] Beginning – Intermediate Dunham Technique ($7), taught by Dunham Certified Instructors.
For more information:
Facebook page: Institute for Dunham Technique Certification
*A Grand Salute to Ms. Ruth Beckford along with Dr. Albirda Rose & Dr. Halifu Osumare
*Special thank you to Linda Faye Johnson, Myrtha Muse & Eyla Mooore
*Welcome to the Bay Area all Dunham Students, Candidate and legacy – Shout out to my #Dancestory2013-STL kinship Ms. Jamilah Ajanaku & Heather Beal-Himes
#Dancestory2013 #STL– Post #MAAGI, one of the climatic moments of my Sojourn a private tour led by the illustrious Ms. Ruby Streate, Director of Dance & Education for the Katherine Dunham Centers in East St. Louis. Upon, crossing the building’s threshold of legacy and washed by a waterfall of timeless information exchange, enlivened stories, rare artifacts and cultural treasures marked a reflective moment in my own Dance steps including my most profound trek, #Dance Professor/ Mentor Paula Fleury- McCullum with Jacque Burgess; and Lynn Coles & Linda Johnson at Laney College; My early #Dance nzo founded by Dr. Halifu Osumare Everybodys Creative Arts Center whose transcendental works still thrive at The Malonga Casquelourd Center for The Arts. And Dr. Albirda Rose revolutionizing and delivering the sermon to certification chronicling Dunham legacy all along the way. The finale, US speaking fondly of her beloved Sister-kin Ms. Alicia Pierce and my Paula McCullum – give praise to Life!
*Ms. Dunham thank you for your breath, brilliance and rich legacy for all to inherit- in grand Salute! Ayiboboo! Ms. Streate, thank you for such a glorious tour and sharing of an incomparable Dance story that affects us all. *still reeling*
Although I made it a point to catch a good whiff of the city visiting sites like the Western Expansion Museum, took a picture in front of “the Arch” – not your average structure, it’s pretty impressive. Even saw “The Wiz” at the local Black Repertory Theatre, past through Forest Park, saw several Universities, and neighborhoods, a flourishing downtown Art District, even spent time at the Library, I knew there was so much more to appreciate – so I shall return. My last night was imbued with a KP #Brass rehearsal session, Bush Ra’s unmatched Banana pudding and Dre’s “can’t stop eating it” Routelle dip. I smiled at the symbiotic nature of it all, this #STL Sojourn was full, vibrating a high rise and wouldn’t you know it- the block experienced a slight power outage! Nevertheless, the Brass kept playin’ on. I shall meet in St. Louis once again, real soon – those folks did me #RiteOn!
A Big kinship hug and a heart-full thank you to Weedie Braimah and Andrea Peoples – Jahi, Jason, Mike, Jackie, Douns, Djembes, Bush Ra & the nephews and otha KP kin – you are the tops – Stay UP!
On #Dancestory2013 track: Gathered surnames from kinship encounters to unearth: #Ebron of Virginia, legacy music traditions of the #Morris of New Orleans and #Peoples of Arkansas. iba’e [give praise to life] For more info about #DANCESTORY2013 [just click link]
Greetings from St. Louis!
On an amazing journey, making tracks to build lasting legacies. Just finished co-producing a blogtalk radio show segment I spoke about last post. This was a “Blogtalk” class project was commissioned to Track 4 participants “Genealogy as a Profession” by one our Teachers Ms. Bernice Bennett, granting us the opportunity to broadcast a show on her popular program “Ancestors Footprints”. Launched LIVE July 10, 2013, from #MAAGI at the Historical Harris-Stowe State University, St. Louis, MO, listen in as Institute classmate Callie Flournoy-Riser shares her #genealogy journey to Cameroon with our class host Gary Franklin. Here’s the broadcast link: http://bit.ly/134oWEp and below is my Track 4 classmates.
Part of my #Dancestory2013 mission is to participate in cultural exchange with kinship organizations of the African Dance and Drum Community to invoke dialogue about our Family Histories, while exploring cultural connections. Through Kreative Pandemonium, I was invited to teach a Afro-Cuban Diaspora Dance/lec at the historic Better Family and Life Center led by DeBorah and Malik Ahmed. To be greeted warmly by students of the Community and to encounter the powerful artistry of Mardi Gras Indian traditions was a wonderful welcome; I along with many have have sewn a few of the pieces of this very suit by the Zulu Family of New Orleans, worn by Chief Shaka Zulu of Yellow Pocahontas, member of 200 year legacy founded by the legendary Big Chief Allison “Tootie” Montana. Mind you, every stitch counts for such a monumental task taking about a year to complete. God Bless the Mardi Gras Indian tradition.
My “KP” kinship began with long time Brethren Weedie Braimah, leading to meeting his life-partner Andrea Peoples a whirlwind of familiar hospitality and a creative force, both imbued with long-standing music traditions in their own heritage stemming from New Orleans and the infamous Temptations, respectively. Their Organization/ Band/ Family Kreative Pandemonium, so aptly named breeds a powerful movement of sound filled with deep soulful grooves, intricately woven with West African Ancestral calls, historical Jazz runs, flipped with #STL swagg all day and them some. I was privy to some of the rehearsals and was compelled to do a jig on the spot in my little corner, because this was NOT sit down music – AND, the musicality is on HIT!
Wearing my red Fogo 2004 “Kongo Ya Bakoko” shirt in tribute to the legacy of the Ancestors, the class opened up naturally to honor St. Louis’ infamous Cultural Ambassador and treasure Ms. Katherine Dunham. As I shared my own Dunham #Dancestory citing my Mother, Patricia Waters-Calloway whose teacher was Ms. Ruth Beckford, Dunham Biographer, toured with Ms. Dunham in 1943, celebrated 1st Lady of Oakland Dance and Professor Elendar Barnes, Founder of the Laney College Dance Department and Co-Founder of Dimensions Dance Theater, later to further ignite my own passion under the aegis of Mentor/High-school Dance teacher Paula Fleury-Mc Cullum, with a myriad of Dunham emissaries along the way. I reflect favorable upon an fortunate opportunity to meet Ms. Dunham at San Francisco’s Festival 2000 in 1990, where as a Marketing/PR associate I was privy to accommodate her general needs and to observe a class she instructed masterfully from here chair at Laney College. Later in 2006, I’d participate in a “Living Birthday Card” choreography, honoring her 97 years on earth, presented by the Dunham Legacy Project of Northern California at Laney College. For my first class in the #STL, we started in 1st position parallel, working plies, undulations, parallel flat back, rhythmic isolations, then onto progressions – warmed up to a sweat dancing for Palo, adding some heat with Ogun and hit a frenzy with a little Vodou-Arara ,all in dedication to them- here and beyond. I had a great time and love the energy of “da Lou” filled with generations of deep-soul Dance and Drum folks. #grateful
I am ushered to highlight the Bay Area’s African-Ancestored #Dancestory, so inspired by the tenacious Soul-searing ground works like that of my Sis-kin Amara Tabor Smith and the talented Dance mediums of “Ed Mock-manifestations” giving us signs that “We and They” want to be heard. In shared works and more, I too pose the question:
“How shall we preserve and archive vital information that transcends generations, and inform these times?”
To this, I relish these thoughts: My living Grandmother allowing me to perform data entry on her job computer at 14, being a Mac User since 1984 and my Grandfather [deceased] urging me to re-do his Family History documents on a newly purchased Mac to appease my Grandmother, knowing that I’d “hang around”. We produced our first Family history book – #Walston 1993, taking it next level in 1994 on the matrilineal side, lead by my Grandmother – #Coleman/Culverson.
Yet, when I think of my experience at Midwestern African-American Genealogy Institute this year in St. Louis, I think back that just a couple of months ago, my family buried my 1st cousin who was my age…Her beautiful transcendental Spirit of perseverance is my fast pass to live my life NOW, which lead to my Scholarship Award from Afrigeneas.com making it possible to attend #MAAGI.
It shall always be an indelible print upon my memory, taking our inaugural class picture, my eyes welling up in quiet pride. I shook my head, because I could see my grandfather smiling and sense Ancestors applauding for this moment was truly historical and I was a part of it–for the record. #Dancestory2013-STL
*For more information about #Dancestory2013 [just click link]
**Special thank you to Institute Founders, Directors, Coordinators, Professors and Experts. A very special thanks to Charles Brown, Jr and Angela Walston-Raji along with the tenacious works and hospitality of the St. Louis African American Genealogy Institute. Pleased to be in the esteemed kinship of Kreative Pandemonium and Better Family Life Cultural, Educational and Business Center, and Community Dancers, Instructors and Drummers.
***Hail Up: Baba Bro. Rodney Lindor of Haiti, Bokulaka, Black Repertory Theatre, 14th Street Artist Community, Sabayet Inc., Dr. David Imhotep, Baba Kenya Ajanaku, and the New African Paradigm Study Group and my roomies from the Afro-American Genealogy Historical Society of Chicago.