Look at this… 👀 https://pin.it/K4nCxBs
Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska and Chicago, Illinois, I am used to frequent ribbing about the Midwestern “foreign land.” It was while I was attending Clark College (now CAU, a HBCU) in Atlanta, Georgia, that I first became the subject of great humor about my Midwestern upbringing. It helped that my maiden surname is “Wead” (pronounced “Weed”) and for many of my Southern classmates, very little was known about the Black folk who lived in the Great Plains.
African Americans were integral to the forging of new territories in the great West. My family and hundreds of thousand of African American still live in every region west of the United States’ Mississippi River.
I highlight my beloved Midwest in a new e-book series. This month marks the kick-off of a Black Genealogy e-books that are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Books and our self-publishing book site, Lulu.com. https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/ann-wead-kimbrough-and-mark-owen/august-first-is-the-first-black-holiday-for-black-people/ebook/product-zv5pgd.html?page=1&pageSize=4
My cousin, Mark Owen and I, are the authors and the interior designer and coordinator is Veverly Byrd-Davis. The cover designer is an anonymous apprentice.
One of the chapters is about Nicodemus, Kansas, the first Black and only existing town west of the Mississippi that was settled by African American homesteaders who trekked from Kentucky during Reconstruction to establish a new life. It was tough and they were gritty. I also wrote about Nicodemus and other forgotten Black towns in the West in my other blog. See #25.
I love this NYT piece because it provides excellent sources who speak on the often neglected topics of everything from slaves’ inherent knowledge of wilderness to today’s harrassing and ignorant facts regarding those of us who will stop along the side of a road if we see a special bush that may be a healthy product when properly picked and cooked. There were a couple of stories over the last year that showcased the little-known relationships African Americans have with nature. There are African American outdoors enthusiasts who are hoping to break down barriers that exist about hikng, for instance.
While hiking in Indiana and in New York’s Central Park, violent and harrassing incidents captured global headlines based on ignorance from the inflicters.
I especially enjoyed the NYT references to the enslaved ancestors locating honey from trees and harvesting all sorts of berries and other healthy products from trees, limbs, bushes and from the earth.
Camp Lessons for Life
I was an early African American forager. I grew up as the only one in my household who went to every available that featured the great outdoors camp that my parents could afford. I recall taking our daily showers in stalls that allowed for the minor snakes and other creatures to share in the rustic settings. The campfire stores, especially the ones with scary outcomes in the stars-lit skies, were my favorites. I remember the silly and yet lasting chants such as those for catching ones’ elbows on the large dining hall’s long wooden tables. Here’s the chant:
"Ann ... Ann ... strong and able ... get your elbows off the table. This is not a horse's stall, but a first-class dining hall! 'Round the tables you must go, you must go, you must go. 'Round the tables you must go, you were naughty."
It was all in good fun and I learned valuable lessonson how to live with kids from diverse backgroounds. We celebrated our differences by sharing in all sorts of activities. It was the early “rope courses” and other skils and trust-building experiences I had as an adult member of teams ranging from the Atlanta Olympic Organizing Committee to Harvard University’s Graduate Education certificate program
Black Girl in the Black Hills
I also recall riding the horses along the ridges of the South Dakota Black Hills, however, this wonderful path is no longer open to the public. It was probably not safe when I was riding on it in the late 1960s, yet it was worth it. It was beautiful to see all views of the Black Hills along the former horse trails.
As I suggest in my other blog that I write with my cousin, Good Genes Genealogy on WordPress, please take an active role in learning more about your ancestor.
Homework: Utilize the NYT article and my blog as motivation to research your family’s ancestries about the early foragers. Happy trails!
Research a famous and historic food “joint” in your hometown …
… and, stretch your ancestral research outside of your immediate family. If you are like me, it will be a delicious journey because my reach led back to my family.
Growing up in Omaha, Nebr., I loved the wonderful taste of Metoyer’s Bar-B-Cue. I also knew that it was not and easy route to become a black business owner in any North American city during the 1950s. That could have been where my story ended. Yet, the lingering great taste of the “cue” kept my genealogy quest alive.
After interviewing my mother and father, I learned that the Metoyer owners were Civil Rights Movement pals of my family. Together our families protested several injustices that today are either long forgotten or trying to emerge. Whether lunch counter and retail dress stores’ boycott or marching in favor of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Metoyers and Weads heped to bring positive change in our Midwestern community.
The home cooked story gets better: Ray Metoyer, an award-wining journalist, and I are longtime friends largely based on our same chosen profession. We refer to ourselves as “homies” and we share ‘what we can remember stories that include my family’s treat of buying the best bar-b-cue from his parents’ restaurant. Ray and I also separately landed in the metropolitan Atlanta area. He was the TV anchorman; I was financial journalist for the largest metro newspaper and later, financial weekly paper. As such, Ray and I eptitomize the phrase “small world.”
My challenge to budding or skilled genealogists
Try it: Explore just one aspect of your hometown involving a popular food restaurant or store in your neighborhood. Once you are satisfied with your findings, look up one of the descendants and share your fondest for their families’ establishment. Next, record it. Tell it. Do something to keep the circle unbroken by sharing little known history.
I’ve always been a sure and confident person who was fortunate to be raised in a family with positive messages from my mother, father, siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and distant relatives. However, we — like most African Americans — have confusing, hidden and proud heritages that are often difficult to fully uncover.
If you or others fall in the categories of mixed heritage, I am encouraging you to keep uncovering your ancestry. One way is through DNA testing and related results. Thankfully, about 10 years ago, I completed my DNA evaluation and discovered that although I have the appearance of a full African American, my mutual families’ backgrounds produced the following:
Summary of DNA results for Ann Lineve Wead Kimbrough, updated 2021
Read every drop of DNA backgrounders
The above image is a just snapshot. There is a whole lot of drilling down to review the estimates provided by the DNA scientists. Like all who engage in DNA testing, my results unfold with enormous information found in tables, linkages, background explanations, photos and important health and social characteristics.
There are so-called bright spots on my DNA tree. For instance, my DNA chart shows a 9 percent ethnicity linkage to ancestors who lived in Scotland. This northern third region of Great Britian, displays a highlighted region, as does the United Kingdom, Belguim and Luxenbourge.
As I expected, the largest gathering of my DNA estimated ancestral roots are found in Africa to include the regions of the Southern Bantu Peoples, Ghana and the Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo, Senegal, Cameroon, Nigeria, Congo and Western Bantu Peoples. The United States ethnicity estimates show that Virginia is the landing place for my ancestors during the slave trade.
“Your ethnicity estimate includes regions based on two different scientific processes: the AncestryDNA reference panel and our Genetic Communities™ technology.” That’s from the Ancestry.com DNA overview of my discovered heritage.
There is so much to learn from one’s DNA. My data is constantly updated as new 3rd, 4th and even more distant relatives are added to tree. Once I receive updates, I spend time tracking whether we are related and if so, how. For instance, one of my so-called 3rd or 4th cousins, did not have direct DNA linkage to our family. Yet, her information was always pulling on our family’s DNA. After several conversations, we figured it was because her son’s father is our family is my family member. I considered our realization a victory because I would not otherwise have known about this young relative.
I have an estimated 767 4th cousins or closer relations. The DNA results are the first major step towards conducting additional research and can serve as a confirmation about whether the individual is related to you. I caution that even if limited or no DNA exists regarding a relation, consider the investigation on the linkage because slaves were often mortgaged and sold to keep their enslavers in business. For instance, in some cases, slaves from neighboring plantations were paired up with another group and sold, thereby breaking up blood families of slaves. Yet, those same individuals may have served as a “family member” in the slave community structure.
Centimorgans in your family tree
Each person who has received her/his DNA has a special number and that places you in the range or numeric grouping of your family member. That numbering is known as centimorgan The chart below supplied by FamilySearch.org, gives the numbering range for individuals to prove whether they are blood relatives.
According to FamilySearch.org: “All the testing companies now provide the total amount of DNA (measured in centimorgans, or cM) shared with each genetic match, information that can be vital for determining the genealogical relationship. A cM is a measurement of the distance between genetic markers on the DNA based on the expected frequency of recombination with each generation. On average, one cM equals one million base pairs, although this can vary.” This is from Family Search.org to explain the importance of cMs or centimorgans in connecting genetic matches.
I am actively researching my family and along with my business partner/first cousin, Mark Owen, we will explore many African American and Afro Caribbean tenealogy family topics with more depth in our upcoming e-book series.
Stay tuned to this blog for more information about our August 1, 2021 debut!
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
Brooks also received more than 75 honorary degrees from colleges and universities worldwide.
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”
1970: Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center, Western Illinois University, Macomb, Illinois
1995: Gwendolyn Brooks Elementary School, Aurora, Illinois
1990: Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing, Chicago State University
2001: Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy, Chicago, Illinois
2001: Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School, Harvey, Illinois
2002: Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School, Oak Park, Illinois
2003: Gwendolyn Brooks Illinois State Library, Springfield, Illinois
2002: 100 Greatest African Americans
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.
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)
Family Pictures (1970)
Black Steel: Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali (1971)
The World of Gwendolyn Brooks (1971)
Report from Part One: An Autobiography (1972) (Prose)
A Capsule Course in Black Poetry Writing (1975) (Prose)
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)
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
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.
After a literal “hot-Lanta” visit to the Sugarcreek Golf & Tennis Center to cheer for our favorite high school tennis competitor, I thought of the similarities and contrasts of days gone by.
It is likely that 15-year-old Allie Turnbough did not understand the significance of her participation in a tennis tourney that highlighted historically black colleges and universities’ interest in her future. As a graduate of Clark Atlanta University, a HBCU that also includes her mother as an alumna, we especially sensed the significance of the day. Her Dad did as well. So did my Mom.
This day was made possible because of the Black tennis pioneers: “Formed in 1916 by a group of African American businessmen, college professors and physicians, the American Tennis Association (ATA) has become the Mecca for blacks – from all walks of life – who yearn to enjoy the camaraderie and competition offered by a sport for youngsters from age 8 to 80.
Since its inception, the ATA, which is the oldest African American sports organization in the United States…”https://blacktennishistory.com/the-american-tennis-association-ata/
The ATA is still in play. During a May weekend in the Atlanta suburban community known as South DeKalb County , the ATA produced a spectacular tournament at the beautiful Sugar Creek Golf & Tennis Club. It afforded teenagers like Turnbough the opportunity to compete with some of the best tennis athletes in the metro Atlanta area. HBCU tennis scouts had the best views.
As a genealogist, I reflect on this day and weekend as a pleasing legacy to Black female tennis pioneer Slowe. The difference is that unlike Slowe who was restricted to only competing in Blacks-only tourneys, Turnbough and her friends are able to prove their talents in fully integrated settings.
Many of us know of the great Althea Gibson, Olympic tennis champion and HBCU grad (Florida A&M University). Fewer of us know about Slowe.
Lucy Diggs Slowe
Born in Berryville, Virginia on July 4, 1885, Slowe made history as the winner of the first ATA National Women’s Singles Championship in 1917. This victory made her the first African American woman to win a major sports title. On January 15, 1908 Slowe and nine other woman founded the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. This organization has become one of the most influential association of black woman in the world. In 1919, she worked with District of Columba officials to create the first junior high school in the system. Slowe served as principal of this school for three years. In 1922, she became the first Dean of Women at Howard University. In 1923, Slowe became the founder and president of the National Association of College Women. In 1929, she founded the Association of Deans of Women and Advisors to Girls in Negro Schools (NAWDACS). https://theundefeated.com/features/black-tennis-history-timeline/ This timeline is worth checking out. All of the Black tennis greats are included in this listing and short stories.
As for Slowe, I love the most profound summary bio of her https://ivyleague.com/sports/2017/7/28/history-blackhistory-2011-12-lucy-diggs-slowe.aspx. She was one of the founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. on Howard University’s campus in 1907-08. She is also from the “Divine Nine” family royalty of founders as her cousin, Elder Watston Diggs, was one of the founders of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. in 1911. Her founding of schools and academic achievements are also well described in the bio summary.
Finally, young Turnbough also comes from sports and social activism legacy. Her grandfather, Charles Bryant, uncles and cousins are (grandfather Bryant has passed) proven, top athletes. https://omaha.com/sports/huskers/bryant-family-history-comes-full-circle-but-not-in-nebraska-red/article_cc6dd3d5-22c4-56c5-9c64-c58e3d57eac5.html.
Enjoy the game, Allie.
I have friends and family members whose mothers have joined the ancestors. I honor them on this day.
My dear friends and family members who never gave physical birth to children are also honored by me as they “mother” so many.
Happy Mother’s Day to my family and friends who bid farewell (for now) to their spouses and children. Those memories are honored by me.
There are also special almost-Moms, Dads who are the unsung Mothers-in-the-gap, foster Moms and step Moms who I especially honor.
Finally, I have family and friends who do not always receive in-person, voice-to-voice “Happy Mother’s Day” greetings from family and friends. They barely receive greeting cards from them. I honor them for rembering the reasons why they are lovingly called Mom, Mama, Mommy, Big Mama, GMa, Mimi.
How do I wish any of the aforementioned groups “Happy Mother’s Day” and have them feel loved? I still say and write the words to them.
Yet, there are some authors — my friends — who have penned beautiful words that offer hope, comfort, care, love, space for grieving and more.
Try one of Rahman’s poems, or any of Rev. Jennifer’s self-care tips, or Oprah’s and Dr. Perry’s truths about trauma.
Consider what Oprah and I often say and do: ‘Connect the dots’ on this Mother’s Day. Here’s my gentle advice: