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.
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 of innerstanding. As much as we are immersed into a highly socio-techno world — breath, blood, and water are powerful conduits for transmitting Spirit and information and for African Ancestored Genealogists, WE know that this is the ammunition that slays so-called “brick walls”. Ancestral propitiation remains a life line extending deep wisdoms and truth to help us to live long, and live well ensuring our wealth into the next generation.
I’ve listened to and have observed countless testimonies from the voluminous works of African Ancestored Genealogy Societies daily throughout this country. I’ve experienced the re-awakenings of Spirit, the strengthening of Family ties towards Communal betterment. For this, I “stay on the potter’s wheel” utilizing this powerful vehicle for healing and transformation. And I can attest to my own personal development and thank my Ancestral stars for it… R. Waters Calloway
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.comcensus 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 Homelessnessadvocating 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…
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″
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, memberof 200 year legacy founded by the legendaryBig 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 teacherPaula 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’sFestival 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.commaking 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
**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.
JUL3rd- A twitter-call out to Dance-kinship and Ms Denae Hannah answers! – Denae Dance Theatre creates performances from the physical collision of pop culture with high art. Current project: FIVE STAR CHICK. 411: denaehannah.com #RiteOn
This Sojourn would privy me to the rare sittings and cherished conversations with Eldership who are trailblazers in this burgeoning field of Genealogy; As my interest is of African Ancestored Family Histories in shared vision with Afrigeneas.com, I’d meet a founding member residing right here in Oakland- Ms. Electra Price!“Come on in here baby…” greeted with a sparkling smile and infectious candor, I am literally floating in from a soggy rainy day- grateful for my Dance-kinetworx – SHOUT OUT TO LEAH KIMBLE-PRICE [lovez you].
Needless to say in true “geek” behavior, I squealed at the site of seeing two computer screens, desks of vital information, data, album stacks, a printer, wall-lined books endless of my eyesight as I wanted to read them all up – yup this is my house, to train, to learn, to initiate! All so serene, encompassed in an atmosphere of a scholar’s lounge. And 3-4 hours later, I found a deep kinship beyond the book stacks, shared interests, and name claims – WE Oakland natives Ms. Electra and I share a deep pact with Ours, to somehow “leave the data”. And NO, I can’t begin to tell you everything as we combed decades, traveled dimensions weaving information as I fast took dictation -yet I will leave you with one of the endless tips from Ms. Electra Price to aid in your own personal journey in discovering your Family history. TIP:
Go home get the old photos you’ve collected turn them over, label and date them i.e. who, where, when. A gold mine of information!
MORE about Ms. Electra Price: Read this article by Brenda Payton, Veteran Journalist: http://bit.ly/1cwqBIh
SUPPORT – My #Dancestory2013 Sojourn underway in preparation to attend the Midwestern African American Genealogy Institute in St. Louis, MS for continued study and development and travel to collect Family data, documents and stories from 3 states. Please review: http://www.gofundme.com/Dancestory2013