Interview theme “Whose Do You Belong to?!” conceived by Regina Califa, #Dancestory Project Curator, hosted by Wanda Sabir New Orleans native and celebrated International Journalist/Activist of Wanda’s Picks.com [originally recorded 08.07.15]
“Dancestory” is a guided movement source of embodied knowledge – UNEARTHED. It incites exploration of cultural pathways and Ancestral histories, bridged with field-research and Technology.
Southern California-– I am a double Family descendant belonging to the Coleman and the Culversons on my maternal side and at the helm hails my 90 year old Grandmother Elsie Waters, daughter of Mabel Coleman and Cleveland Culverson of West Carroll Parish, Louisiana. My Grandmother along with my Grandfather married as “Waters” although they had known each other since my Grandmother was 13 years old. They moved to West Oakland, California at the end of WWII and bought their 1st piece of property on Campbell Street.
Our Southern California Colemans and Culversons were the host for this year’s Family Reunion. I was absolutely thrilled to be in attendance, to share my love for Family History at the same time to speak with Elders who would know the story beneath the story of the many living Elders and their descendants and of our celebrated Patriarch, Perry Coleman. Tis a major feat to bridge the convening of these double cousins, yet Coleman and Culverson Families have organized reunion for nearly 17 years. I am fortunate to have been a part of the Northern California branch to launch its first Family History pamphlets and books in 1993, inspired by my Grandfather Claude Waters Jr, these efforts forwarded to this day by my Grandmother Elsie Waters – Today there are 5 pieces of self-produced booklets, with another project underway.
Coleman & Culverson Family Reunion pix
[upper lft] Family Matriarchs
[upper rt] Taking notes in consultation with Family Elders at the table.
[btm left] Bakersfield 2017 Family Reunion Announcement by Cousins O.C. and Odella Johnson
[btm right] In the grand scheme of things, nothing else matters but the love and compassion that we show to one another. ~Pastor J. R. Coleman The Word Community Church, Fresno, CA
I woke up this morning in a comfortable embryo position, finding my tear ducts filled, with a soft weep at its brink, eased by a smile and a deep longing for that solid presence, and in consolation knowing that HE is still here and with me. It is my STUFF, us grand kids called him, born Claude Waters, Jr of Junction City, Louisiana in 1926 to Freadie Roe and Claude Waters, Sr.
Driving a tractor at the age 14, and taking care of his parents since he was a teen, my grandfather was quite accustomed to working with his hands and tilling the earth. Extremely resourceful in his community and among family, he was a quiet guided Spirit, and the life of a party, yet firm in his vision and could easily galvanize his resources in people and through his work ethic to make things happen. Then, although he was met with a hesitancy by his childhood friend and his first love about the idea of getting married, he patiently awaited and kept it moving and soon after, the two would reunite in California where Claude and Elsie came to be, raised a family of 5 and took care of his Mother in West Oakland.
Their first home was on Campbell St. and Willow Manor was the local school his children attended, he worked for the Owens Illinois Glass Company, served 2 years for the United States Armed forces, later working 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 East Oakland, they were the first Black Family on the block as his children attended Fremont Highschool and Castlemont 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 aspiring “Black moguls” who had acquired this 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 for me take a 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 grandmother of this, we were all pretty excited about the couple purchasing the home as they were still in escrow, yet my Grandmother mindfully warned – get the keys!
When my grandfather passed in January 1997, it was like the spoke of a wheel lifted, leaving the wheel to topple over trying to balance – Family. He being 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 for this day, as we are STILL property owners in Oakland.
Today, I ponder at the fact that I wouldn’t have taken up such a dedicated interest in Geneaology research, if it weren’t for the positive encouragement of my Grandfather. I have upon many attempts worked to crack “the mystery” surrounding his Father’s people. I’ve gotten the lore of half-sisters one day, estranged family members asking for money another day, yet NO INFO even though there’s a wealth of technological access today in Genealogical research. The #AncestorChallenge attached below was the result of a task placed before members of the The African American Genealogy & Slave Ancestry Research (AAGSAR)led by #Genealogy buff Ms. Luckie Daniels, as she was most definitely a welcomed catalyst, with an adjoined “No Brick Walls” policy. Tenaciously, I did learn from his draft registration card, that my great grandfather Claude Waters, Sr was married prior to our Sug, 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 located residence info cited in the 1930 census. 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 yet.
…so today with a gentle nudge from my Grandfather “STUFF”, I contacted select cousins and all of his children my Mom, Uncle and Aunts to share the message to physically honor their Father, my Grandfather as it is the light he deserves. And I thank those who responded, for the alignment needed with fervor to keep #workingdalines.
For today Daddy Stuff, I’ve picked back up your paternal line as it is now added to my research docket today. #AncestorsSpeak #workingmylines
Daddy Star Shine! This commemorative day I honor my Father’s transition in the post-launch of a lunar eclipse and in the midst of a swift Harvest Season of Ancestral rites, celebrations and atonement.
Give Praise to the Life of my Father Alvin Charles Calloway AUG.15.1942 – OCT.08.2009 born: Summerfield, LA
It’d be awhile returning to this particular blog as I’ve been in field studies working tenaciously and “in the Lab” so to speak, forwarding works with a rapidly paced #Dancestory2014 – see more here: #Dancestory2013 – A Project of nzo.califa Dance Works[click link]
What an amazing journey thus far having gathered so many amazing stories to be retold and archived, as well as capture the stories of Our living, vital threads of information to keep weaving our DNA codes into truth. Those codes remain vital links transcending time, generations giving deeper insight into mysteries…
Sept. 25th 2015 — Legacy Family Tree Webinar: MAPS tell some of the Story for African-Ancestored Genealogist webinar http://bit.ly/1NRKwr1.
Special Guest, Angela Walton-Raji, Author, Afrigeneas founding member and African Ancestored Genealogy specialist begins the session sharing that in some cases, Maps can be the only evidence to prove that certain areas were ever there, such as contraband camps, settlement areas and estates.
Regarding one of her own home states, Angela shares that Oklahoma had and has more African American settled towns than any other state in the country. She took us down a winding mystery regarding a Pottawatomie County “Negro Settlement” town identified on a map as early as 1879, later referred to as a hut to finally disappear upon any map by 1907, the year when Oklahoma entered into the Union. Although the actual inhabitants of this area still remains a mystery, like a savvy detective, Angela shared with us her intriguing journey to discover more about the area and perhaps the people of this dwelling. Examples of various maps were pointed out, citing it authors, publishers and publishing dates. Identifying nearby landmarks like the Canadian River, Walnut Creek, a cattle crossing and the Cheyenne Agency Road gave more information about the “settlement area”. Looking into other strategies, Angela bridged her research with modern technology utilizing Google Maps to zoom in on other communities, satellite and street view, only to discover just a single oil well — still no additional clues. Resolute, she posted this case scenario to her nationally renown blogs and interestingly enough, a California resident yet Oklahoma native, owned property near Norman and Roble, near the area in question she researched about. Upon this blog follower’s return home in Oklahoma, he picked up the trail by researching county records eventually producing an even older map for Angela, listing the area in question as a Negro Hut, withan additional structure charted as a Negro House.
Questions aroused: Could this have been used by Cowboys from the nearby cattle trail? or was it a boarding house? The mystery has yet to be solved – but it was sure intriguing to us session listeners gaining perspective about how to unearth genealogical mysteries in our own works.
Naturally my mind began to churn as this latest technological find has been of great interest to me– right up my alley, especially since researching the lines of my maternal and paternal branches in Louisiana have been somewhat of an overwhelming feat as of late. Yet, as an Artistic person slash organization development specialist, charting the locations where my Ancestors dwell upon a Map would allow me to see the BIG picture and make preparations for my travels and research more efficient – then BINGO, Angela mentions Maps Marker Pro!
This is how mapping the Freedman Bureau offices in Arkansas came to be project turned historical initiative. Yet it’d be one of Angela’s colleagues from Low Country Africana that’d strongly convince her to map ALL of the Freedmen Bureau offices for all of the states. Of historical merit, creating a visualization of history that had yet to be done, allows us to see where people were in those early days of Freedom, charting a different stage of their life– post slavery. I love it, #Genealogist creating and cultivating History in the field. #RiteOn
In the session’s close, Angela encouraged us to write new chapters in the African American story. Begin to tell your own story, the story of your town, your county, whatever institution that you can think of — and tell the story on a map. #RiteOn
This Ancestor Season, give praise to life to those of our Call upon the names of your Ancestors and give them light; then watch leaves of wisdom fall upon you with sweet illuminations and enlightenment. #FindYourRoots #FamilyHistory #workingdalines
R Waters Calloway – Working Family Tree of Surnames researched. 2014
Give praise to the Life of our Ancestors imbued with infinite wisdom to UPlift our own. Honor breath -speak their names for the vitality of yOUR existence for they are with you, GIVE light towards their ascension for the healing.
Adjoin in Familial – Communal kinship increasing the power of these riteful works making what we do powerFULL. Egun iba’se Egun ire’o *a dupe Baba Yagbe Awolowo Onilu for the added fuel of inspiration.
“Don’t ever think or allow anyone to tell you that the deities and ancestors don’t walk with you in America as they do elsewhere. Remember, wherever you are thus goes the Spirits.” ~Mami Wata Healers Society