#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
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
#OAKLAND “Take care of your own backyard, you just might find your Ancestors. ” ~Claude Waters, Jr/R. Calloway
Is what my Grandfather used to say, I added the end of this quote as this wisdom did exactly that. So on a Saturday’s outcast of a day, atop a hill on Lincoln ave, is the 15th constructed temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, its cornerstone May of 1963, still one of Oakland’s prominent Landmarks. Among other buildings on-site is a jewel of an edifice, The Family History Center , a branch of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
This Center is where my celebrated Genealogy Guardian & mentor, Ms Electra Price served as a volunteer back in ’89. For over 15 years her trailblazing works created pathways of greater discovery in African -Ancestored Genealogy, pioneering the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California (Oakland based) and Afrigeneas.com. Ms Electra is also the grandmother of my beloved Dance-kinship, Ms Leah Kimble-Price, LMFT.
Now that bit of history speaks volumes of living and Ancestral kinship. Imagine what your Ancestories will speak?! If you are searching or seeking and want to get started, look in your own backyard –up the hill though, and STILL OAKLAND.
workingmylines.com “Electra Price” Regina “Califa” Calloway
———————————- Oakland California FamilySearch Library Genealogy www.oaklandfhc.org
African American Genealogical Society of Northern California www.aagsnc.org
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.
“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
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
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…