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.
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
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
I am moved and grounded by reading a good book. As much as I love to surf the web, research online or build social media formats, I love the adventuresome qualities of of collecting books of interests and find that buying or gifting books is an invaluable investment. In my Genealogy works before there was internet, I frequented libraries, museums and institutions for information in researching my Family History, while learning about historical elements associated with my heritage. With the introduction of Technology and subsequent passages of the Freedom of Information Acts, [FOIA] Genealogy has become a billion dollar business captivating our attention, our minds and in some cases eclipsing invaluable connections like face-to-face contact, while shortening the attention spans of some presuming that they “don’t have time for reading.”Libraries, Museums and Historical Institutions are the great halls of information equally valuable as our online technological cohorts.
Most recently, I was an organic conduit for bridging a trio of these components: