“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.”
Research records accessible at County Clerk/Recorder Offices, Libraries, and include contact with your local Genealogical Society.
Look for Family names at Mortuaries, Cemeteries and Funeral Homes onsite and check for an online presence, including Obituary listings.
Think White Pages is out-dated? Think again, some Grandparents and Old School folks still have their Landline or the same cell phone number they first signed up for.
And the wisdom of my Elders share that, “a little manner goes a long way”. When speaking with an Elder, make it your intention to give your undivided attention to the conversation with an open mind and ear. Do take notes and get clearance first to record.
Strengthen your Family Ties! Make a phone call, visit an Elder today; Invest in the time and gain wisdom that transcends time.
#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
#nzoCALIFAncestry is my Community platform for cultivating Genealogy kinship and Ancestral/Communal Healing initiatives.
On a rainy Sunday, November 26, 2017, one enters the double doors of the Community Room of the Oakland Main Public Library, [OPL] interested to research their Family History, open for messages and possibilities. By the day’s end [literally] the room had indeed been imbued by an early evening of compelling Family stories shared, stories passed down and some in fragments; one attendee brings 2 stacks of Family data research, another brings a table long chart of her Family Tree – this session is primed. #RiteOn
We began this day getting right to work to chart our Family tree on a template provided, instrumental to guide the attendees’ next steps in their research. The room was prayed up and prepared to receive 16 faithful and determined Family members who openly gave voice to their Ancestors’ by calling out their names, as those in the room who shared a common surname echoed back in response:
We also cite the places our Ancestors traveled and sojourned; including those who were shipped and or sold away, migrated through many regions, across waters, trails, and areas such as:
Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Texas, Texarkansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Chile, China, Haiti, Ireland, Italy, Liberia, Mexico, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Scotland, and California.
As our aural senses were briefly disturbed by outside bellows of anger and resentment being ushered out of the Library’s temporary cove, we braced ourselves and re-centered with deeper focus. [Bless ’em] Each member was steadfast to share their story, even with gentle time warnings. [I, feeling like biting my nails, carefully glancing at the time] I stay mindful recognizing that the room had become safe space. For some, it was their first time and their hearts desire to find a Father or learn more about that unknown great from the South, while others wanted to expand a Family line — all knowing that everyone in the room is genuinely listening with shared intentions in kinship; As a Genealogist / Teaching Artist I was elated, and as a conductor I respectfully surrendered to the process.
My keychain arsenal holds over 23 library cards from throughout the country, I love libraries! It was a distinct pleasure to introduce the OPL’s Genealogy and Historical Records online to aid in their Family History research. With some surprised and others eager to dive in, the time had prospered forward to put research into motion, and so we began with the Ancestry.com’s Library Edition. Each attendee started with “that Ancestor” and was guided through each search prompt, aided by a few additional tips to advance the search in cases of the unknown:
Add Mother and Father or sibling
List the State and Country if you don’t know City
Estimate birth and death year
List known resident locations
Clarify “Race/Nationality” prompt [Ancestry.com]
The minute each attendee, pushed Ancestry’s “search button” a quiet stir hit the room; heads were hunched down tenaciously gleaning U.S. Census records to locate “that Ancestor”. According to the nation’s “oldest record keeper” the National Archives and Records Administration [NARA]
“Census records can provide the building blocks of your research, allowing you to both confirm information, and to learn more.” ~ NARA website
I’ll add that Census takers are human too *wink*. In the next moment, an unknown Father’s information was located; Hmmm looks like there’s more than one Family member with the same name, how could this be true? Another’s Family line extends a generation, while further research by a 1st session attendee, leads to documents from the Philippines corroborating her “Tan” connection.
[now we’re over time] A school bell rings in my head, reminding me of my Mama Georgia’s saying “Play time is ovah, time to come on in”. As a Professional Dance Teacher, I now urgently give cues to relentless minds now locked in on finding out more and announce to make preparations to gather in a circle. The room was now filled, and so was every attendee filled with discoveries made possible by their Ancestor’s presence. I’m deeply humbled, I am too filled, yet remain reticent to skillfully guide us into the ’round — hands clasped, hearts full, Ori-centered to release, give thanks, align and “Give Praise to Life”. *breath*
Egun Ire’o, Egun Iba’se //R. Califa Calloway, #nzoCALIFAncestry
Follow my latest campaign and Sophomoric journey to the Genealogy Mega-Conference #Regina2RootsTech2018, Salt Lake City Utah; I’m cultivating Genealogy / Family History/ Ancestral kinship sessions and taking names to advance my expertise and training in Genealogical methods, research strategies, and Technology.
#nzoCALIFAncestry Genealogy kinship service welcomes Cultural Presentations, Conference and Panel invite; I am enthusiastic about Intentional Retreats & Inner-Circle gatherings that facilitate Communal & Ancestral Healing works. Dedicated to restoring Family Charters, I partner in Personal Development and Transformation initiatives as Family Reunions and Family gatherings are a fave. Contact me today, and let’s envision.
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
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
Ago Ire’o Monday – ’tis the Season for a plethora of reason to keep cultivating OUR story. Former Bay Area folk, Sis Nicka Smith is a maven in the field with a powerful creative platform through her lens. Get to know her deep works as Family Historian and Educator – I enjoy her staunch advocacy in keeping our stories relevant and us in the know.
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.”