Best quote for the week in honor of ancestral research: Thank you, Prof. Karen Hunter

“We don’t know who we are … it makes it impossible to know who we are going to be.”

Just heard her on the Sybil Wilkes and George Wallace show with Myra J as the fill-in for Comedian Wallace …

Let’s do the work and build our family’s genealogy tapestry!

Best quote for the week in honor of ancestral research: Thank you, Prof. Karen Hunter

“We don’t know who we are … it makes it impossible to know who we are going to be.”

Just heard her on the Sybil Wilkes and George Wallace show with Myra J as the fill-in for Comedian Wallace …

Let’s do the work and build our family’s genealogy tapestry!

Hero and S/Hero Ancestors honored by my Dad in his long-awaited memoir

Not even a harrowing bout with COVID-19 or horrific beating by racists in the 1960s could keep this good man down! On his birthday, support Dad’s book debut that honors our collective heritage with encouragement and solutions. Read all about it in our hometown Omaha Star newspaper!

Our past deserves a pass: Guide to living in the present and future

Deep into our genealogy research about ancestors we knew and others we learn more about through our “detective” work, there are lots of opportunities for spiritual understanding and growth.

I know.

Seek balance. Forgive what you know such as learning an ancestor was imprisioned or moved away for work and never returned to the community where the researcher lived. Negative remembrances place us in mental and spiritual jails.

Give a pass to the ancestors and be willing to dig deeper to recover all of the facts. Sometimes history got it wrong. In Elaine and Helena, Arkansas — the home of my paternal ancestors — the headlines of the day reported one thing. Uncovering of history revealed something else.

Be willing to pass through those genealogical brick walls. Pass the test and know that life for our ancestors requires putting ourselves in their moments in time.

Enjoy the reseach and love the process. Merge the good past to your great future.

(From Atlanta, GA’s Hillside International Truth Center’s “Daily Thoughts from the Hill”
      Our past miss-steps are a part of where we are. Life’s challenges are lessons from which we can learn. But when the outcome is not what we expected, consciously or subconsciously, it can shake our belief. So we may tend to play it safe, but see God in it. God is available.       God cannot disappear from your life any more than you can disappear from yourself. God is Life and the life of God is in you. Let the past stay in the past and move forward.       I do not live in the past; I let the past live there. Divine vision shows me abundance without fear. Nothing controls me, including my past. My imagination shows me how God would have me see my life. I live in the now. Thank you, Imagination, in me, through me, as me, around me, through the Christ within. And so it is. Forgetting those things which are behind, I strive for those things which are before me.Philippians 3:13
 Daily Thoughts from the HillCopyright: Hillside International Truth Center, Inc.Bishop Dr. Jack L. Bomar – Executive Bishop
Bishop Dr. Barbara L. King – Founder

Stripes v. Stars and Stripes: The 4th of July posed a conflict for Black and White ancestors

Many Black substitute Juneteenth for July 4th celebrations

See my earlier blog about Juneteenth!

Some 75 years after The Declaration of Independence was signed on June 4, 1776, Abolitionist Frederick Douglass pointed out the irony of the words that were sealed while Blacks remained slaves until 1863

It’s not his holiday, Douglass said during a speech in Rochester, NY on July 5, 1852 to commemorate the signing of the July 4th document. The former slave turned statesman spoke to approximately 500 abolitionists who paid 12 cents each to hear Douglass as the keynote speaker during the Rochester Ladies Anti-Slavery Society gathering. At the end of his speech, Douglass remarks were endorsed by the group.

Juneteenth or Freedom Day

It was June 19, 1865, when the last enslaved African Americans were told they were free, more than a year (Jan. 1, 1863) after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into federal law. More than 3 million enslaved persons were informed of the news in Texas and reports were that celebrations that were led by prayer, dancing, feasting and fasting.

Known as Juneteenth, many communities choose that day to celebrate freedom from slavery. In 1980, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth a holiday and many states and local governments nationwide followed suit.


Historic Juneteenth celebrations in downtown Punta Gorda, Florida in 1910. Unknown source for photograph

In Punta Gorda, Florida, the traditional Juneteenth celebration actually takes place on May 20, 2021. This year, the quaint south Florida city did not hold a celebration due to the health pandemic, yet it captured various history clips through its museum and a rousing video that includes great information in other Florida communities.

There are hundreds of Juneteeth celebrations across the nation and outside of its borders. Here’s a brief listing of Juneteenth events in the U.S. during June 2021, beginning with celebrations in this blogger’s hometown, Omaha, Nebraska:

  • Omaha Freedom Festival, Noon to midnight, Malcolm X Memorial Foundation, 3448 Evans St. Socially distanced outdoor event will feature activities and refreshments.
  • Concert at 7 p.m. with rap artists Juvenile headlining, along with artists Michel’Le, Enjoli & Timeless, and Keeshea Pratt.
  • Max capacity is 1,500 due to COVID. The Festival will follow safety protocols as recommended by the Douglas County Health Department, the CDC and the City of Omaha.
  • The Omaha Freedom Festival Concert is brought to the community by Quality Clinical Research, The Blues Society of Omaha and Union Pacific.

In Springfield, Missouri:

In metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia:

In Huntsville, Alabama:

For more about Juneteenth celebtaions near and far, consult local newspapers, historical societies, libraries, museums, the federal government’s sites and locations such as the Park Service and National Archives.

How Our Ancestors Influence Future Careers: Thank you, Poet Gwendolyn Brooks

There are ancestors who have called my name through the ethers of my dreams when I was a young girl growing up in Omaha, Nebraska. I heard the spirit of Bessie Coleman, and I imagined myself becoming the second African American woman to soar in the skies as she did. However, I was discouraged from that dream and a few more.

I found solace in writing. My retreat was to write in my daily journals. I was fortunate to learn of a poet whom I could identify with since she was African American, born in the Midwestern state next to mine (Kansas), and she wrote about a city that I adored — Chicago.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet Gwendolyn Brooks was born on this day — June 7 — in 1917. In 1950, she became the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for her second book of poetry, Annie Allen, which chronicles the evolution of a young Black girl into womanhood in the community of Bronzeville on the near southside of Chicago, Illinois.

Pultizer Prize-winning book!

Bronzeville is an exciting book for a young person to read.

I eagerly sought biographies or any form of storytelling to learn of the everyday lives of Brooks and others who have passed onto their ancestral homes. Brooks’ life was changed at 6 months old when her family moved from Kansas to Chicago. She called the Windy City home until her transitition in December 2000.

There are so many highlights of her personal and professional life that the space in this blog is limited. Here are a few:

Honors and legacy

Sara S. Miller’s 1994 Bronze Portrait Bust Of Gwendolyn Brooks
1946, Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry
1946, American Academy of Arts & Letters Award
1950, Pulitzer Prize in Poetry
1968, appointed Poet Laureate of Illinois, a position she held until her death in 2000
1976, the Shelley Memorial Award of the Poetry Society of America
1985, selected as the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, an honorary one-year position whose title was renamed the next year to Poet Laureate
1988, inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame
1989, recipient, Life Time Achievement Award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
1989, awarded the Robert Frost Medal for lifetime achievement by the Poetry Society of America
1992, awarded the Aiken Taylor Award by the Sewanee Review
1994, chosen as the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Jefferson Lecturer, one of the highest honors in American literature and the highest award in the humanities given by the federal government.
1994, Recipient of the National Book Foundations’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters
1995, presented with the National Medal of Arts
1995, honored as the first Woman of the Year chosen by the Harvard Black Men’s Forum
1995, received the Chicago History Museum “Making History Award” for Distinction in Literature
1997, awarded the Order of Lincoln award from The Lincoln Academy of Illinois, the highest honor granted by the State of Illinois[15]
Brooks also received more than 75 honorary degrees from colleges and universities worldwide.[citation needed]

1970: “For Sadie and Maud” by Eleanor Holmes Norton, included in Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings From The Women’s Liberation Movement (1970), quotes all of Brooks’ poem “Sadie and Maud”[16][17]
1970: Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center, Western Illinois University, Macomb, Illinois[18]
1995: Gwendolyn Brooks Elementary School, Aurora, Illinois
1990: Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing, Chicago State University[19]
2001: Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy, Chicago, Illinois
2001: Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School, Harvey, Illinois[20]
2002: Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School, Oak Park, Illinois
2003: Gwendolyn Brooks Illinois State Library, Springfield, Illinois
2002: 100 Greatest African Americans[21]
2004 Gwendolyn Brooks Park named by the Chicago Park District, 4542 S. Greenwood Ave. Chicago IL 60653
2005: Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School, Bolingbrook, Illinois
2012: Honored on a United States’ postage stamp.[22]
Negro Hero (1945)
The Mother (1945)
A Street in Bronzeville (1945)
The Children of the Poor (1949)
Annie Allen (1950)
Maud Martha (1953) (Fiction)
Bronzeville Boys and Girls (1956)
The Bean Eaters (1960)
Selected Poems (1963)
A Song in the Front Yard (1963)
We Real Cool (1966)
In the Mecca (1968)
Malcolm X (1968)
Riot (1969)
Family Pictures (1970)
Black Steel: Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali (1971)
The World of Gwendolyn Brooks (1971)
Aloneness (1971)
Report from Part One: An Autobiography (1972) (Prose)
A Capsule Course in Black Poetry Writing (1975) (Prose)
Aurora (1972)
Beckonings (1975)
Other Music (1976)
Black Love (1981)
To Disembark (1981)
Primer for Blacks (1981) (Prose)
Young Poet’s Primer (1981) (Prose)
Very Young Poets (1983) (Prose)
The Near-Johannesburg Boy and Other Poems (1986)
Blacks (1987)
Winnie (1988)
Children Coming Home (1991)
Report From Part Two (1996)
In Montgomery (2000)

From a facebook post by our — Gwendolyn Brooks and me — Sorors, July 18, 2019

Gamma Zeta Chapter/Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc

  Triumphant ThursdaysThe Glamourous Gamma Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated will spotlight the life and accomplishments of Triumphant Soror Gwendolyn Brooks, American poet, author and teacher. She was the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize. Born in Topeka, Kansas in 1917, shortly after, her family moved to Chicago. Brooks began writing at a young age with the encouragement from her mother, who said she was “going to be the lady Paul Laurence Dunbar.” She published her first poem, “Eventide” at the age of 13. By age 16, she had written and published approximately 75 poems. In the 1950’s Brooks published her first and only novel. Her first teaching experience was at the University of Chicago.She was married to Henry Lowington Blakely, Jr. until his death in 1996. They had two children. At the age of 68, Brooks was the first African American women to be appointed poetry consultant to the Library of Congress. Triumphant Soror Gwendolyn Brooks died at her Chicago home on December 3, 2000.We thank you, Triumphant Soror Gwendolyn Brooks, for your many contributions to Zeta Phi Beta, Sorority Incorporated and the world.

#16 Keep digging: Special find for a young genealogist

GoodGenesGenealogyServices 2.0

St. Louis, Mo. TV Newsman Damon Arnold was fortunate to find fantastic info about his ancestor.

I am proud of Damon locating a mentally and physically strong former slave who became a Civil War vetetan. His fighting did not end there. Damon’s great-great-great grandfather also fought gallantly to receive his pension.

Read on and learn more. Damon is just at the tip of major findings. You, too, can find great family heirlooms in those old records.

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Buffalo Soldiers: Black ancestors were the world’s first park rangers

When I was 10 or 11 years old, I camped in the Nebraska wilderness with my fellow campers and chaperones. The highlight of my experence was riding high atop my favorite horse along rugged and somewhat dangerous trails in the Black Hills National Park in South Dakota. I’ve since learned that my childhood suspicions were correct: The trails are so dangerous that it has long been fenced off to protect public use.

Like the fence around today’s Black Hills, the Buffalo Soldiers were the human hedge around our nation’s most precious national park lands.

Buffalo Soldiers protecting the nation’s most precious park lands. Courtesy, U.S. National Park Service.

I remember dreaming of becoming a park ranger. Perhaps my dreams were filtered from our African American ancestors who were among the nation’s and the world’s first park rangers in the early 1900s. Their origins as park rangers are traced to 1899, 1903 and 1904 in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.

Why were they called Buffalo Soliders?

Based on research, it is believed that Native Americans provided the nickname for African American soldiers based on the eyesight similarities of our ancestor soliders’ wooly hair and dark appearance to that of the buffaloes that roamed the parks. It is likely the soldiers were dubbed “Buffalo” beginning in 1866 with the 9th and 10th All-Black Calvary regiments.

Our family ancestors from Hope, Arkansas were members of the 9th Calvary of Buffalo Soliders based in New Orleans and formed in 1866. We are researching whether our lineage is traced to the 25th all-Black Infantry that also fought together against the Confederate Army.

Today’s Park Service looking for Black “Soldiers” to share African American history

Today’s Park Service is woefully underrepresented with African American park rangers and interpeters. In 2019 and earlier, the Park Service reports that 80 percent of its workforce are non-African American.

There’s a rich and storied history involving African Americans and magestic park lands in the United States. Col. Charles Young, the third Black graduate of West Point University was the first African American superintendent of a national park when he accepted the assignment at Sequoia National Park in the summer of 1903. Much of his work has gone unrecognized, yet Young is credited with the paved roads in the park, new bridges that are still in use today and the basic infrastructure of the trails.

The inscription by Col. Young reads: “Yours for Race and Country, Charles Young. 22 Feby., 1919.” Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

Under his leadership, he created an infrastructure of trails, paved roads, and bridges, some of which are still in use today. He also was friend of W.E.B. DuBois. The two met while teaching at Wilberforce University in Ohio, according to the researcher and writer Nineka M. Okona in her June 2020 article in Conde Nast Traveler.

She also interviewed a modern-day Park Ranger, Shelton Johnson, who was based on Yosemite. He has dedicated his work to preserving African American history and sharing it when he can. The post-COVID opening of the parks will allow Johnson and others to deliver the stories of the stewardship and pride that Black soliders had when they served as park rangers more than a century ago.

Seventeen National Parks bear African American History

From the Jameston to MLK National Parks, I am on a mission to visit and discover more about the rich history of African Americans.

Historic Jamestowne in Colonial National Historical Park – Photo credit: National Park Service / Paula Degen

Ebenezer Baptist Church, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park – Photo credit: Library of Congress

For the full listing of the 17 sites with beautiful, historic African American connections, see,Monument%2C%20Illinois.%20Also%20known%20as%20the…%20More%20

Happy Trails!