#workingmylines — Such a wonderful way to share my Genealogy boudoir of stories about my Ancestors. I’ve accepted the #52Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge created by Professional Genealogist Amy Johnson Crow serving as a boost for those of us with aspirations to write Ancestral memoirs or a book; It’ll also serve as a creative outlet to elevate our narratives that educate Family about our Ancestors. My formal posts will be on Mondays weekly, yet with this pre-launch I begin with one of our foremost celebrated Matriarchs, whose 1st year observance of transition date recently transpired. My Auntie Selyah remains timeless near my heart. #givepraisetolife
Maternal Aunt: Selyah Glenn Waters
birth: July 24, 1948, Oakland, CA | death: May 30, 2017, Oakland, CA
My Second Mother My Mother’s 1st Sister, Middle-child Aunt Selyah…
Daughter, Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother, Iyakekere (Community Mother)
💛I grew up adoring this beautiful Black Priestess, ready for the World before most; She dared the Mysteries, challenged Drum rhythms, reasoned with Nyabinghi Rasta Elders, and danced in the fire, YES I; She spoiled us on Black-skillet-pineapple-upside-down-cake, intrigued us with ghost stories and always let me play in her fantastic wardrobe.
🔮Auntie introduced me to OHM, Jambalaya, A Course in Miracles and eating red clay; Auntie was a Warrior Spirit, Healer, Teacher, Root Woman, and Bebe to a 3-generation tribe, with a deeper heart that challenged the hearts of Men and those of us who loved her.
🌹In her anchor legged-years, She allowed me to care for her through playful resistance and sometimes brave fights; She got to Love Jamaica one last time, not before invoking the sweetest Love blessing atop of my head, a Family Matriarch first.
🗝I honor Her for such life-altering gifts, I transcend Her wisdom and blaze healing trails of ascension for our Matrilineal heritage. I Love you Auntie Selyah…still missing you in such a divine and personal way, grateful you are ascending, prayerful we all continue to do so. ~Selah
Traditional Dances steeped in West and Central African spiritual traditions, has invoked
DNA wisdom within me since the womb. I indentify with Òsùmàrè [Oxumaré – Brasilian Candomble] known as the “rainbow spirit” of Yoruba traditions holding dominion over the heavens and the earth bearing dual qualities of male and female; Òsùmàrè is the umbilical life-line of continuity’; this embodied concept permeates throughout the island of Haiti — undulating dance movements of Yanvalou, honoring the divine serpent duo known as lwa, Ayida-Wedo and Damballah-Wedo; where rainbow showers and white offerings activate writhing, from the cerebral cortex winding down to the coccyx. And in the Ancient star systems of the Dogon peoples exist the serpentine symbolism of the “double-helix”.
America’s noted discovery of DNA’s double helix in 1953, propelled a Congressional proclamation called National DNA on April 25, 2003. This initiative transcended into an anniverserial event carried forward by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), now celebrating it’s 15th year.
DNA testing is a powerful tool for identification. ~DNA Diagnostics Center
DNA testing made accessible for home use?! seemed almost unbelievable. For African Americans on their quest to find their ROOTS marked an important benchmark in Family History Research. Yet, long before I considered taking a DNA test I needed to consider a few things:
1st Exorcise historical Family ‘lore, fears and myths concerning taking such a test, in light of how much surplus blood I’ve given at a many Doctor and or Medical visits.
2nd I actually LOVE biology and particularly became fond of our Genetics component, in High school. Although I was aware of MESA [Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement] my Mom was actually a Health and Safety Lab technician at Lawrence Berkeley Labs and anything less than an ‘A’ in Biology and Chemistry was unacceptable.
3rd It became apparent that I needed to immerse myself, so I took workshops with Field leaders and binged on very accessible tutorials by Ancestry.com on youtube.com. Learning about the discoveries of other African American Genealogists and Family Historians heightened my determination. It was the dynamic delivery of Mr. Shannon Christmas, experienced genealogist specializing in genetic, colonial American, and African-American genealogy in Virginia and the Carolinas, that tipped my scales. He’s well-versed, studied and a dynamic lecturer whose sought out expertise and encouragement invoked me to buy 23andMe immediately after his lecture at #Rootstech2017, Salt-Lake City, Utah. Since then, 4 generations of my maternal line are tested. I’ve taken a second test with Ancestry.com and planning my 3rd effort through FamilyTreeDNA.
Soooo, over 1500 DNA matches later, I am a deep diver of Family History research and highly advise that working YOUR lines is a must, as it often said by experts that Genealogy and DNA testing goes hand-in-hand. And while waiting for your results to come back, make certain to interview your walking history – the Elders in your Family and continue to build your tree. In special cases of adoption, I can share that DNA testing will enhance your investigation, along with Genea-friend kin support, with select educational online sources; Consider every piece of information as a clue towards your find. To this day, I’ve be in the service to locate biological parentage of cherished friends and DNA matches who are adopted; If there ever was a testimony to share, this area of Genealogy, DNA testing bears powerful impact of transformation.
That being said, take all of these cues of inspiration and further your right to learn about your birthright through your Ancestral codes. Testing opportunities are accessible, available and now on SALE. ~ workingmylines.org #workingmylines
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.
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
#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
Woke up on the 3rd Day of #ROOTStech conferencing, WHIPPED from all of the frenzy of information as the Salt Lake Palace Convention Center is huge, boasting “515,000 square feet (47,800 m2) of exhibit space, 164,000 square feet (15,200 m2) of meeting space including a 45,000-square-foot (4,200 m2) grand ballroom, and 66 meeting rooms.”* There were tens of thousands in attendance, over 200 sessions to choose from, with an Innovator Summit in tow and the most concise Genealogy EXPO one can attend in field knowledge, industry and education planting supple training grounds– whew, Salt Lake City breeds Genealogy and Ancestor research.
My head says stay guided, so after my morning meditations, I turn on the television looking for Gospel programming and as loud as day, this message broadcasts:
“Your spiritual bloodline will always overpower your natural bloodline”
LOL, Pastor Joel Olsteen’s Sermon of the day, I got it! Paraphrased, learn who you are, for your are destined for greatness. He went on to cite “Your spiritual bloodline will always overpower your natural bloodline.” POW, I resonate with this through a legacy of study of African Spiritual traditions and deep reverence for Native American Ancestral propitiation; I am also further inspired that the very root of our Family Spiritual beliefs, is aligned with this overarching message. Generations of social challenges, dysfunctional Family cycles, incomplete rites of passage breeds an insurmountable occurrences of psycho-spiritual calamity in our African Ancestored communities.
Senior Cousin Donald Culverson, Ph.D.Associate Professor, Governor’s State University, Chicago, IL
Trumpeting MAAGI at #ROOTStech, I’ve learned under the auspices of fantastically intelligent minds decoding Ancestor codes and destroying “brick wall” theories. Our Ancestral codes tell us more than where we come from, they give inference as to how we lived, what codes of success we can be inspired by to further prosper our lives; one can learn about Family medical history to chromosomal defects that may affect childbearing and rearing aspirations. One common tenet I’ve learned in my own Family research and personal sojourn is that my folks were devout Spirit people, and yes CHURCH was at the helm. The partnering tenet was education, for as soon as it was made accessible to them without the lash of a whip or “Holy terror” tactics, my maternal second great-grandfather James “Gabe” Coleman born in 1870 Alabama, attended Tuskegee Institute, his granddaughter my maternal grandmother [living] went to Southern and today my niece attends New York University [NYU]. As there are a number of Educational success stories in our family, there also exists specialists who were administrators for Oakland Unified School District for over 30 years, College and University Professors in Chicago and Bakersfield to President of Merritt College in Oakland, California. Others of us are Teachers in Special Education and Arts and Cultural enrichment programs, to licensed and credentialed Health Care Professionals serving as Registered Nurses and Social Welfare Counselors.
Post conference, I was privilege to receive an invitation by one of Salt Lake City’s proud natives and Church member Brother Stephen Debies via his partner Sister Robyn Cherry to attend the historical Calvary Baptist Churchorganized in 1896. This special Church produced voices of inspiration that lit up African Heritage Dayat ROOTStech, lifting up thousands in attendance. On 1st Sunday in Salt Lake City, Calvary’s Activist and Pastor, France A. Davis shared inspiration from the word that day** what we have received, we ought to put it to good use in God’s kingdom and minister to one another… offering up the day’s Sermon, “A Good Steward of the Manifold Grace of God”. I often believe that at their very best, Family Elders work hard to provide and want their families to do well often battling and balancing the course of Family hardship. In this course, I count my blessings daily and strive to stay inspired in my service works to produce spiritual efficacy to overcome these challenges as Pastor Davis’ sermon further speaks about “manifold grace” — manifesting itself in one way to serve my needs whereby my needs met, can begin to serve another.[Calvary Baptist notes forthcoming]
I share this teaching moment… On the last day of #ROOTStech although it was nearly the end of the conference, I rushed to strategize a question to illicit some of the expertise that the “Coaches Corner” had to offer, knowing that the appointments were probably filled — yet the “face drop” response to my inquiry regarding my African American 3rd great grandfather led me to believe, I simply got an expert who didn’t specialize in “my area” as she responded with swift empathy. I knowing that African Ancestored Genealogy is deeply entrenched in World History, I pressed forward calibrating my question resulting in the familiar database response checks. CHECK! Out of time, no problem, “I’m all the way up,” next stop post conference Family History Library research — STILL STOKED.
Scripture inspiration offers that “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22). The harrowing nature of American History and slavery might have broken a many Spirits, yet at the same time, many chains of slavery were broken through the might of Spirit and Faith from liberation to emancipation.
Honor the “walking history” of wealth that dwell among you — your Elders! Listen, learn, record and chart their stories, we can benefit from their embodied knowledge; We are that much more abundant transcending the yoke of our Ancestors. And if you don’t know that by now, then start counting your blessings, starting with your breath; drink from the fountain of Ancestral wealth, be full and then refresh the cup of another. Today, my cup runneth over as I finally send off my first DNA test and skip over to the Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. ~ #workingmylines
*[Salt Palace – Wikipedia]
** Feb. 12, 2017 note: Sermon by Reverend Dr. Frances A. Davis, Calvary Baptist Church, SLC, Utah
~MAAGI: Midwestern African American Genealogy Institute – July 11th – 13th 2017: www.maagiinstitute.org/
~RootsTech 2018: February 28-March 3, 2018 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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
“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
In May 2013, I answered “The Call” for applicants and applied for the Afrigeneas.com sponsored scholarship to attend the Midwestern African American Genealogy Institute [MAAGI]. (smile) July 2013 marked my first intensive experience at a genealogy institute of any kind. My experience at MAAGI will always be an organic compass in my life guiding my works as an emerging Genealogist and Family Historian.
Cultural Heritage, Ancestor traditions and Family History have always been a running thread in my creative works, scholarly area of focus and through Family Gatherings. Inspired through a Family HIstory book initiative by way of my paternal Grandfather Claude Waters, Jr in the early 90’s, motivated me further to unearth more information about our stories. My Ancestral quest resonates in shared vision with the pioneering Afrigeneas.com – I encourage all adjoined on this trek to learn more, visit the site or join a chat forum exchange amongst experts.
Afrigeneas.com VISION: ” To find and document the last slaveholder and the first African in each family.”