HAPPY NEW YEAR! Been a bit, as I’ve been hitting the pavement, digging deep, traveling wide and praying on high, blasting through proverbial research Brick Walls, and basking in the inheritance of a multitude of FAMILY!!! *Special shout out to the fantastic Family Reunion efforts of SIMS in New Orleans, the WALSTONS in the Bay Area and the BROWN-REDIC Family ties convening in Las Vegas this year.
We all know that although Family Reunion planning can prove to be challenging, the rewards run long and deep. We have so many reasons more to strengthen our ties, honor our Elders and to motivate the minds of our Youth to carry our traditions forward. I am deeply inspired, and enjoy my newly discovered kinship. I share in the vision to rediscover, rejuvenate and reunite, Family.
Although this Season is considered FALL, Ancient wisdom would reveal that this time of the year IS the New Year. Celebrated Wisdom Teacher, Iyanla proclaims the season to “ALL FALL UP” , to do those things required to get us back in sync with nature, to FALL INTO your purpose. *a’dupe Iya*
I know it to be Odunde in Yoruba, West African Culture, the Harvest or in the Bay Area and some regions Kwanzaa is celebrated honoring First Fruits and thus the fruits of our labor. Among Communal kinship circles, the Fall is filled with a fête season of Ancestral remembrance, perfect for gathering Summer Reunion memories, bringing them forward to share at ceremonial offerings of atonement.
It’s the time to cove, for reflection, to release, and for re-envisioning; The Fall Equinox is my is my favorite time of the year for gratitude, and let me tell you my cup runneth over. I get excited by stepping up my service in the legacy of my Ancestors as Missionaries, Evangelists and Community Workers. Activating my own vehicles of service, I recruit and motivate aligned interests who desire to demonstrate exceptional acts of kindness, to express favor and practice #goodGIVING and Giving thanks, simply.
Bursting with the abundance of wisdom from researching my Family History, continues to fill me. I am grateful for the indomitable Spirit that dwells within me in a long walk of Faith, that transcend from a folk whose daily bread is guided prayer, praise and giving God the Glory.
#workingmylines: I accept this challenge and dedicate this initiative to my Ancestral Guardian, my Maternal Grandfather aka “Stuff” hailing from Junction City, Louisiana. Iba’e, Iba’e tonnu
Paternal Grandfather: Claude Waters, Jr
birth: April 6, 1926, Junction City, LA | death: January 13, 1997, Oakland, CA
Claude Waters, Jr was born to the parents of Freadie Brooks and Claude Waters, Sr, both deceased. He accepted Christ at the age of 13 at Fellowship Baptist Church in Junction City, West Carroll Parish, Louisiana. Later he served on the usher board at Mt. Lebanon, in Darnell, LA. Developing a strong work ethic at a young age, he learned how to work on the farm, driving tractors and trucks.
Junction City, LA is the twin City of Junction City Arkansas
The family headed West part of the Second Great Migration, post Depression with aspirations to elevate their economic plight, landing in West Oakland, California. Married to Elsie (Culverson) Waters at age 18, their first home was on Campbell St. and Willow Manor down the street, was the local school his children attended. He obtained early work with industry giant, Owens Illinois Glass Company, during World War II. Drafted for service to the United States Armed Forces for 2 years, my Grandfather later worked 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 what is known as the Fremont area; they were the first Black Family on the block as his children attended the local Fremont Highschool while others attended, Castlemont and Oakland Technical 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 “Black moguls” who were acquiring 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 to take a private 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 Maternal Grandmother, Mama Elsie of this, we were all pretty excited about the couple of purchasing the home as they were still in escrow, yet my she’d mindfully warn – get the keys!
When my Grandfather transitioned in January 1997, it was like the spoke of a wheel had broken, leaving the wheel to topple over struggling to balance — Family. He was 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 to this day, as we STILL remain property owners in Oakland.
If it weren’t for the positive encouragement of my Grandparents, I wouldn’t have taken such a dedicated interest in Family History extending to Geneaological research. Upon many attempts I’ve worked to crack “the mystery” surrounding my Grandfather’s paternal line. I’ve heard the ‘lore of half-sisters one day, estranged family members asking for money another day, yet NO NEW INFO today, this is where Ancestral grace will kick in. Some years back, I did learn from his draft registration card, his Father,
Commemorating Lo’Eshe Lacy, killed in a West Oakland shooting at age 16 @hoodline.com
Claude Waters, Sr was previously married to a Daisy Rose 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’ve located residence info cited in the 1930 U.S. Census. I’ve 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.
According to my Elder Uncle, my Great-Grandfather would not speak of his parents, it was said he was pretty hush-hush about his Family. Yet, my Grandfather’s life quest was to learn more about his paternal side – this quest was bequeathed unto me before he died. I’ve stay in the works to this date, destined to unearth the answers. And with the introduction of DNA testing, I have tenaciously encouraged, prayed, and coached 2 generations of our treasured Y-chromosome WATERS Men to rise to the occasion and help crack this Family code — my fingers are still crossed. // #workingmylines
archive photo:Owens Illinois Glass Company founded in Oakland, CA 1946 as plant number 20, drawing many to the West for war-time work, including my Grandfather; eventually the company was re-assigned as Owens-Brockway Glass Container Company for which my Brothers and I worked various shifts in East Oakland as teenagers.
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
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
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.”
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.
My Grandmother Mama Elsie is the Family History keeper on my maternal side – She has a mind keen like machete for these details. Thus as a result, generations of names are noted to record on both the COLEMAN and CULVERSON side of her lineage – WEST CARROLL PARISH LOUISIANA along with a legacy of Annual Family Reunions. On December 20th, our Family was bestowed with the esteem honor to elevate Our Family Matriarch celebrating 90 years upon this earth! A stellar initiative launched by her children a call to task for us grandchildren and the greats to follow through and a lesson for the great-greats to observe this all important rite. Over 100 attended in gathering December 20th at San Leandro’s Marina Inn in California from near and far warmed by long-time friends and Community kin. And you can imagine the food and faire that took place. We were ALL moved, graced and adorned by an abundance of wisdom of the day. I am still FULL and now introduce to you…
Elsie is the daughter of Mabel Coleman and Grover Cleveland Culverson, born in Darnell, Louisiana December 24, 1924. She is the granddaughter to James Gabe and Hattie B Coleman on her maternal side and Papa Mel and Edna Gulley Culverson on her paternal side. Elsie attended and graduated Magnolia High School in Pioneer, Louisiana, then proceeded to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Later she migrated to Oakland California and obtained employment as a Storekeeper Manager at the Oakland Naval Supply. Soon after she attended Merritt College and received a Business Certificate in Accounting.
Her work history includes various employment with the Federal Government such as the Oakland Army Base and Internal Revenue Service working clerical for 12 years and for Alameda County Social Services as a Social Eligibility Tech, with her final working stint at Alameda County Medical Center as a Patient Billing Technician for sixteen years, ultimately retiring in 1989.
Elsie was married to Claude Waters Jr. (deceased) for over 52 years. She is the mother of five children (one deceased), thirteen grandchildren, twenty-three great grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren. Elsie served on the board of directors and regional club council with her retirement union. She was an active member of the International Training Communication Council, Regional Club and held the office of President, as well as other positions.
“God has blessed me to travel to many wonders of the world (international abroad and domestic) with my Family and fellow travel companions, Bertha and Brenda Byes, Evelyn and Jimmie Wesley and Mr. Benny. We’ve traveled to places such as Cairo, Egypt, Ghana, Sedona Arizona, Cuba and Canada. We had many wonderful adventures such as riding camels and taking a cruise across the Nile River.”
Never forgetting her roots, Elsie often traveled cross-country, back to her native Louisiana. Mama Elsie’s highlights in the last few years were her travel to the Philippines accompanied with grandson Jon. Elsie had the privilege of a travel excursion to South Africa with her cousins and the choir from the Church of Eastbay. They had the very special honor to meet Nelson Mandela and his wife. It was a great excitement to South Africa for the sights, culture and lifestyles of the people.”
Her hobbies include reading, music, fishing and cooking. She also enjoys attending her home church, Acts Full Gospel, nurturing her Spiritual relationship with God. Mama Elsie shares:
“I am blessed that the Lord has spared me to be able to see 90.” “God Bless and keep you all, continue to enjoy your Life, counting your blessings along the way.”
originally scribed by: Katie Waters, daughter
edited/updated by: Regina “Califa” Calloway, granddaughter
foto: @realsway on Instagram, grandson
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
2019 Note: With gratitude forward, these, reflections STILL speak Today, the 10th Anniversary Ancestral remembrance of my Father. And the abundance of Family has grown tremendously with Family History Research: Harris, Buggs, Robinson, Welch, Kennedy, Lynch, Hunter, Walston, VanHooks, Bennett, L(i)evingston & Howard. I also share an amendment to my Tree confirming my 3X Great Grandparents as Jesse Calloway & Celia Calloway of Alabama, cited on the death certificate of their son my GG-GFA-George Calloway. #workingmylines is a fantastic journey of healing.I invite you to read on and #givepraisetolife.
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…