Category Archives: Communal Ancestors

Questlove’s quest, unearthed my Ancestor quest.

#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 2018 Genealogy/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.

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* African born Ancestors, GULLEY Matriarchs of our Family *

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.

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Oakland Family History Center, my favorite study hub.

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

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          My first RootsTech2017 badge,             Salt Lake City, Utah

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.

in shared kinship works,

R. Califa Calloway, Field Research Genealogist 
Professional Teaching Artist / Curator
workingmylines.com | #nzoCALIFAncestry 

 

Rain or Shine, Ancestors come thru!

#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:

     Akridge, Amey, Barnes, Barnum, Blackman, Brady, Brooks, Butler, Callahan, Calloway, Chancey, Chenoweth, Coleman, Cook, Cornell, Donaldson,  Dozier, Dunn, Garcias, Gayle, George, Hairston, Hall, Harding, Hemphill, Homer, Hunter, Lewis, Livingston, Lowery,  Lynn, McClennon, Moore, Mosely, Motley, Nash, Olivo, Orias, Ortiz, Pacheco, Pittman, Robinson, Stamps, Tan, Thomas, Turner, Van Hook, Walston, Waters, White, Wright…

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.

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Session II – Genealogy/kinship attendees at Oakland Public MAIN Library, conducted by R. Califa Calloway, #nzoCALIFAncestry. Sunday, November 26, 2017

     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 meme_LoveLibrarieslibraries!    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 EditionEach 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]
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Click the link to see the list of online resources at Oakland Public Library:

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

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When “Walston cousins meet. Thank you,  Deborah Bryson

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.

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She Ready!!!

#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.

R. Califa Calloway

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  • #nzoCALIFAncestry Genealogy Kinship sessions appeared in concert with the            Malonga Center Community Ancestral Installation at the Oakland Public Main Library, Nov. 2, 2017 – Dec. 1, 2017 | Curator/Lead Artist: Regina “Califa” Calloway
  • Made possible through shared partnering:  Nzo Califa Dance Works, Kongo SQ West Kinship Society, Oakland Public Main Library & DelinaDream Productions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amandla – Brother Sechaba J. Mokoena of South Africa, iba’e

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.

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#nzoCALIFAncestry:  U.S. Public Records Index researched Communal Ancestor   Sechaba J Mokoena of Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa

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

Community Ancestors
“Give Praise to Life” Fall Ancestral Harvest Commemoration, Oakland, CA. @nzoCALIFA

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  • Public record accessed from Ancestry.com
  • Video published by Sonny Walebowa
  • #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

#NOLA Flash4ward – Marketplace

New Orleans is a myriad of dynamic movement on the ground, filled with voluminous aural sensory, cosmical crossings and most certainly movement through the people. In July 2015, I was prepping for full immersion into New Orleans Historic Collection “Purchased Lives” Exhibit and the American Slave Trade 1808-1865 as part of my field-research works; The experience was an awe-inspiring ethereal visual display of artifacts, accounts, bills, ledgers and clothing, citing various landmarks throughout the historic French Quarter once fully immersed in a thriving economy, and said to be the site of the largest Slave Market in antebellum America.

“…more than two million people were forcibly moved within the boundaries of the United States and its territories…Owners and traders in the Upper South—Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, DC—sold and shipped surplus laborers to the expanding Lower South.” ~civilrightsmuseum.org

Sounds like the history of any of your folks?! I know NOW that it most certainly does of some of mine —  Learn more about my sojourn from a previous blog post :

Purchased Lives: New Orleans *flashback to FALL forward 2016*

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photo courtesy @byp100 on Instagram – July 4, 2016

#Maafa commemoration March in conjunction with the #BYP100NOLA taking a moment to stand on the corner of Chartres and St. Louis in the French Quarter which was once the site of one of the largest slave markets. Through the efforts of this same movement, the originally “decor” including slave chains and whips were removed after a direct community led action during Essence Fest.  A plaque on the restaurant that sits on the corner , “The Original Pierre Maspero Restaurant reads:

  “ORIGINAL PIERRE MASPERO’S SLAVE EXCHANGE – EST 1788.                                    Within this historic structure slaves were sold …”

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