Category Archives: #Oakland Bay Area Dance

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.

* 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.

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”: 


*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, 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

          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 | #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.

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’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 []
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

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.

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


  • #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 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.

#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


  • Public record accessed from
  • 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

…take care of your own backyard


#OAKLAND    “Take care of your own backyard, you just might find your Ancestors. ”    ~Claude Waters, Jr/R. Calloway                                                                                    
Is what my Grandfather used to say, I added the end of this quote as this wisdom did exactly that. So on a Saturday’s outcast of a day, atop a hill on Lincoln ave, is the 15th constructed temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, its cornerstone May of 1963, still one of Oakland’s prominent Landmarks. Among other buildings on-site is a jewel of an edifice, The Family History Center , a branch of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

#workingmylines to shed Ancestral light.                             ~#Oakland Temple on Lincoln ave

This Center is where my celebrated Genealogy Guardian & mentor, Ms Electra Price served as a volunteer back in ’89. For over 15 years her trailblazing works created pathways of greater discovery in African -Ancestored Genealogy, pioneering the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California (Oakland based) and Ms Electra is also the grandmother of my beloved Dance-kinship, Ms Leah Kimble-Price, LMFT.

Researching my Maternal Grandmother’s Paternal Patriarch “Amos Culverson” of abt 1830

Now that bit of history speaks volumes of living and Ancestral kinship. Imagine what your Ancestories will speak?! If you are searching or seeking and want to get started, look in your own backyard –up the hill though, and STILL OAKLAND. “Electra Price”
Regina “Califa” Calloway
Oakland California FamilySearch
Library Genealogy

African American Genealogical
Society of Northern California




Unearthing the Story: When slain Matriarchs speak…

behind the scenes glimpse  as M. Malonga depicts the “Laura Nelson” story | Okemah, OK 1911

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]

“The Nelson Lynching of 1911 @Okemah, Oklahoma”

Kimpa Vita aka Dona Beatriz Kongolese Matriarch 1684–1706
One of the African Women to fight against European colonialism in Africa

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:

~Regina Califa Calloway
nzo.califa Dance Works
“Working Da Lines: Dancestory2013″
twitter: @nzoCALIFA


About the Artist: Muisi-Kongo Malonga 

2013 Legacy Dunham Workshops in Oakland, CA

2013 Dunham Technique Certification Workshop- Laney College Dance Dept.
Dunham Keepsakes|2013 Certification    
foto cr: nzo.califa Dance Works

 August 11th – 16thOakland, 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.

2013 Dunham Certification-Oakland, CA
Laney College Dance Dept.

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

Master Class by Institute founder, Dr. Albirda Rose [rt] & Certified Instructor,Eyla Moore  *foto cr: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.


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.

MonThurs, Aug. 12-15, 3:45-5:30 PM  [Laney College Dance Studio]  Beginning Dunham Technique ($5), taught by Certification Candidates.

MonThurs., 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 MuseEyla 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