Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Precariousness of Being a Black Man in America in 2013

I started writing this post a few weeks back but never got around to finishing it because I keep trying to temper the feelings of both anger and fear that I have. Because on the one hand, I don't won't to alienate those that are still around reading this blog, some of whom are not persons of color, but on the other hand, I have the need to discuss this. Also, it's always been my nature, since I was knee high to a grasshopper to keep the peace and try to make sure everyone got along. However, the need to speak out on a difficult subject matter on this blog has come, because this time it involves family.

You see, almost two months ago, one of my cousins (second cousin once removed) was involved in an altercation with Salisbury, NC Police. You can read about the incident herehere, and here.

I won't sit here and say there are not two sides to every story. In fact I won't even sit here and say my cousin is perfect because it's only been recently that 1) I've reconnected with descendants of my Grand Uncle and 2) while I wrote about my cousin Graham Hosch's artwork previously on this blog (Talented Tuesday), I'm not going to pretend that I know the lifestyle he leads. But here is what I do know based on word of mouth from family and based on newspaper reports,  Police have stated cousin Graham's injuries, his windpipe being crushed, were sustained prior to their arrival. Taking type and severity of injuries into account, it's just hard to fathom that you are going to be casually walking down the street if you have a crushed windpipe. And yes, he may have been at the wrong place at the wrong time, but from what I know, he was trying to avoid trouble, by walking home instead of driving home in an inebriated state.

Not that these types of incidents haven't happened in bygone eras, even within the family, but it seems in the past few years, there's been a litany of these type of incidents involving unarmed black men, and women, too, for that matter. Some of these have been high profile, such as that of Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride and Johnathon Ferrell, of which the end result for the victim was death. Most however, never make the national news and occur every day in both small towns and large cities across America and involve both police and private citizens. For me, these recent events speak to bigger issues of which these are only part of the symptoms.

On the surface, these various incidents whether they involve private citizens or police, show the power of the the Prison Industrial Complex and the need to feed the Prison System. Today's prison is becoming privatized more and more and as such it is a money making industry these days. Heck even before is was becoming privatized, it was a money making enterprise as it was and still is a source of free labor. However, at it's core though, these events speak to what I believe is the bigger issue, that as a whole, race relations in this country have never been fully resolved.

Through decades of a fairly robust economy, everyone assumed everything was okay even though there was a still festering wound just beneath the surface. I believe the Great Recession coupled with the election of America's first president of visible African descent ripped the scab off that wound. And frankly the thought of not finally treating what deeply ails this nation scares me. There are things I see and hear that remind of times I only read about in books or that were relaid to me through family elders and friends.

I titled this post The Precariousness of Being a Black Man in America in 2013. It could just as easily have been entitled The Precariousness of Being Black in America in 2013 as I feel the current state of things doesn't show regard to sex or age.

I'm sure there are many that will probably disagree with my assessment but I ask that before you totally dismiss what I'm saying, stop for a minute, envision yourself wearing my skin color, then tell me if you feel the same way.

You see, even in 2013, skin color, whether you want to admit it or not, still plays a powerful role in this country in how one is perceived.  It can be the crude comments left by some on the news pages about my cousin's incident when they know nothing about my family members or the shock that comes to a face when hit with the reality that I have not just a bachelors but also a masters when you assumed that I probably didn't even finish high school.

There are no easy answers to rectify these issues but to paraphrase Martin Luther King, I feel that we, as a country, will never realize our full potential until we live out the true meaning of our creed.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Dear Genea Santa

Since I obviously haven't been blogging much these days, I of course haven't participated in Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun in awhile. This time of year is of course a could time to get involved, again. By the way, I do know it's Sunday, not Saturday, but ...

This weeks challenge is as follows:

1) Write your Genea-Santa letter. Have you been a good genealogy girl or boy? What genealogy-oriented items are on your Christmas wish list? They could be family history items, technology items, or things that you want to pursue your ancestral quest.

2) Tell us about them in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook Status or Google Stream post.

Dear Genea - Santa;

I realize I've not been doing much research or blogging since my daddy died almost 3 years ago but I still hope that you can bestow a few genea - gifts on me.

  1. I would love to finally to have African Ancestry DNA done on granddady Hosch's paternal line and Grandmomma Hosch's maternal line.
  2. I also greatly need a genea-organizer to organize all my files, etc., so that I can readily whip out "proof" when things are called into question.
  3. If you could kindly tell me what my great grandmother Fannie Pierce's true maiden name is, it would be greatly appreciated. 
  4. Documentation linking my 2nd great grandparents, Jasper and Jane Pierce, to their last slave owners. Plenty of clues abound that give me theories as to who their last, and perhaps only, slave owner was. I'm so thankful for those clues. The only thing I need is the document or whatever you want to provide that finally allows me to crawl over that 1870 brick wall and peer on the other side. 
  5. To really get back to my research. I know I haven't much felt like doing anything for these past few years but I hope that you can restore the drive I use to have because the Ancestors desperately need me to tell their stories.
  6. To go with #3, it would be nice if some long lost ancestor with deep pockets, would pay the bills, so that I could do research full time. If that's not possible, a hard working clone would also be acceptable, so they could go work while I worked on genealogy 24/7.  
I pray I'm not asking for too much. I know I should be thankful for what I have but you know we genealogist, we always want more.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Book of Me, Written by You - Prompt 12 - The Year I Was Born

Health issues seemed to have subsided for now. I still have ongoing testing to try to determine what was going on. Also, I do have upcoming surgery (January) that is totally unrelated to the issues I was having in October.

In the meantime, I'm once again trying to get back to blogging, researching, getting ready for Christmas, etc.

Since I've been struggling on the blog writing front, I've decided to start participating in Julie Goucher's activity, The Book of Me, Written by You.

Even though I'll still be a few prompts behind, I decided to start with - Prompt 12, The Year You Were Born.
What Happened
Or use any other historical (well known or otherwise) event

I'm a child of the early 1960's. There were many major historical and cultural events that occurred during the first decade of my life. I often felt like I was born after my time because there were many things I would have loved to participated in but of course was too young. Even if I had been older, I doubt that my parents would have let me any way.

The following is a list of noted events and people during the 60s.

Politics and Civil Rights

Presidential Politics
John F. Kennedy sworn in as 35th President - 1961
Lyndon B. Johnson sworn in as 36th and 37th President - 1963, 1965
Richard Nixon sworn in as 38th President - 1969

Other Political 
Adam Clayton Powell becomes Chairmen of House Education and Labor Committee - 1961
Robert Weaver appointed to head up HUD - 1966
Thurgood Marshall appointed to the Supreme Court - 1967
Cal Stokes elected Mayor of Cleveland - 1967
Shirley Chisholm elected to House of Representatives - 1968
Howard Lee elected Mayor of Chapel Hill - 1969 

Civil Rights
Greensboro, NC Sit-Ins begin - 1960
Civil Rights Act - 1964, 1968
Voting Rights Act - 1965
Miscegenation Laws Struck Down in Loving v. Virginia - 1967

Assassinations / Murders
Medgar Evers - 1963
Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Denise McNair - 1963
John F. Kennedy - 1963
Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman - 1964
Malcom X - 1965
Martin Luther King - 1968
Bobby Kennedy - 1968
Samual Hammond, Delano Middleton, Henry Smith - 1968

Cultural, Sports, Etc.

Blue Jeans
Mini Skirt

Otis Redding
Aretha Franklin
Wilson Pickett
Sam Cooke
The Shirelles
The Drifters
Ray Charles
Marvin Gaye
Ben E. King
Stevie Wonder
The Temptations
The Supremes

Hank Aaron
Wilma Rudolph
John Carlos
Tommy Smith
Clarence "Big House" Gaines
Jim Brown
Gayle Sayers
Bobby Bell
Cassius Clay / Muhammad Ali
Sonny Liston
Arthur Ashe
Oscar Robertson
Bill Russell
Wilt Chamberlain
Earl "The Pearl" Monroe
Willis Reed

Literature, Movies, Art
The Fire Next Time
To Kill a Mockingbird

The Amen Corner
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
To Sir With Love
In the Heat of the Night
Lillies of the Field

The Sammy Davis Jr. Show
The Mod Squad

Romare Bearden

Kwanzaa Celebration begins - 1966

Monday, November 11, 2013

Motivation Monday - Update on End of Year Goals

Seems like every time I try to get back to my research, something happens. I've been having a few health issues going on, so I've not been able to get back to my research like I had hoped. That being said, I did manage to get a few things accomplished on My End of Year Goals.

So here are the things I managed to get accomplished for health issues side-tracked me.

  1. Finish Organization of the Office / Craft Room
  • I did get the shelving installed in the closet of my office / craft room. However, I think I may eventually have to add more shelving elsewhere in the room.
  • Did not get the bookcase organized; therefore, I'm revising my goal date for getting this accomplished to November 29, 2013.
  • Haven't even begun on spiffing up the file cabinet.
2. Haven't even begun on the organization of my file folders.

3. So far, I've not managed to get at least one blog post per week written. Hopefully, I can make up for that this coming week.

4. I realized after writing my post that I had ordered a different book, Slave Genealogy: A Research Guide with Case Studies by David H. Streets. I've almost finished the book but have gotten side tracked reading some other books, historical / genealogy related and some not related to family research.

5. I've not began to write a research plan to try to determine / confirm the last slave owner of my 2nd great grandparents, Jasper and Jane Pierce.

Given my health issues of late, I actually feel like I've made a small dent into my list. I'm still not back to 100%  and have more testing coming up but still feeling confident that I can accomplish my end of year genealogical goals.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Motivation Monday - The Remainder of 2013

Since it's been awhile since I've done any real research or blogging, I thought that I would finally get back into the swing of things by setting some goals for myself for the remainder of 2013.

So here goes,

  1. Finish the reorganization of the Office / Craft Room. Goal Date: December 14, 2013
    • Put shelving in the closet. Goal Date: October 31, 2013
    • Clean and Spiff up the File Cabinet. Yes this was a goal over 3 years ago. You can read about it here. Goal Date: November 23, 2013
    • Organize Bookcase. Goal Date: November 2, 2013
  2. Organize at least 5 Individual Folders (I keep folders for individuals as well as families) and make sure citations are up to snuff. The citations issues is the most important part of this goal. When I returned to the genealogy a few years ago, I didn't always do a real good job with my citations. Goal Date: November 28, 2013
  3. Write a minimum of one blog post per week. 
  4. Read Slave Ancestral Research: It's Something Else by Mary L. Jackson Fears. I've had this book on my wish list for awhile and finally decided to order it this past weekend through (my favorite book store along with Amazon). I'm at the 1870 Brick Wall on most of my lines. While I think, I've thought clearly in how to break through the wall, so far I've been unsuccessful. Therefore, I'm always looking for ideas that I've not thought of. Hopefully, this will get the wheels turning, again. Goal Date: November 28, 2013
  5. Write a research plan for determining / confirming the last owner of my 2nd great grandparents, Jasper and Jane Pierce. Goal Date: December 21, 2013
Since there were only 2 1/2 months left in the year, I didn't want to do a laundry list of things. I think these are attainable goals in the time frame that I've given myself to get them accomplished. I will get them done. I just need to keep telling myself that every day.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

2013 AAHGS Conference - Saturday, October 12, 2013

Another fun-filled, jam packed day here at the AAHGS conference.

I begin the day by working in a bit of much needed exercise.

After having a filling lunch of salmon on orzo, it was off to session II, Unlocking Our Southern Mosaic: Examining a Family's Life Near It's Slavery Origins, by Dwight Fryer. Mr. Fryer's work as a minister was evident in the way he told the story of his family's origins in Grand Junction, TN.

I have to be honest, when Mr. Fryer began his presentation, I thought he was referring to Grand Junction, CO, a locale where I resided for a few years during my adult life. It was a little confusing at first, because his description of Grand Junction of course wasn't matching up with the Grand Junction I knew. After realizing there was another Grand Junction, the presentation began to make sense.

Wonderful points of interest from Mr. Fryer's presentation include:

  • A Union Army Contraband Camp was formed in Grand Junction, TN.
  • Western Tennessee, where Grand Junction is located, had the same culture and politics as Mississippi. In fact, Mr. Fryer referred to it as Tennessipi.
For the next session (III), I attended Understanding African American Genealogical Patterns as Remnants of Slave Culture: Demographics, Family Dynamics and Religious Practices. The presenters were Rev. Dr. Richard Gardiner and Ceteria Richey.

Ceteria, realized like many African-American families that she knew more about her mother's side of the family that she did her father's side of the family. She also realized that her mother's family was a strongly matriarchal family.

Using the principles of Cognitive Therapy, Ceteria tries to understands the whys of her family? Cognitive Therapy seeks the patient overcome difficulties by  identifying and changing dysfunctional thinking, behavior, and emotional responses. These principles can be applied to society as a whole.

The roots of the matrifocal society in the African-American community finds it's roots in slavery. During slavery, African-American women's value was their womb. Slavery was perpetuated because the status of any children born into slavery was through the mother. When women were sold it was always due to her potential increase to the owner. Women and their young children were often sold together.

Mean while, men were often used as studs, in other words, humans were breed like cattle and horses. Often if the men and women refused each other, they might be whipped.

In my younger days, I use to argue against this notion, that 100+ years removed from slavery that the effects of slavery were still manifest. But, as I've gotten older and looked through the more mature eyes, it seems that families that came through slavery intact do not seem to have as many of the problems as those who were ripped apart.

For the final session of the day, I attended Shelly Murphy's (aka familytreegirl on Twitter) Hitting the Genealogy Brick Walls & Challenges: The Search for Information about Joseph Brand Davis.

Shelly hates using the term Brick Walls because she believes there are no such thing as Brick Walls only Challenges. 

Highlights from Shelly's presentation are as follows:
  • All research should focus on asking questions
  • Know what laws were in place during a particular time frame.
  • Records generate other records
The day was wrapped up with dinner, a little entertainment by two young local talents, and the awards ceremony. Sandwiched between the entertainment and the awards presentation, we listened to the keynote speaker, Thomas Cain talk about the Nashville connection to the music industry. Can you say Little Richard.

And with that it's a wrap folks as my time here at the 2013 AAHGS conference comes to a close. Mom and I will be heading home in the AM. I've had a wonderful time meeting new people, finally meeting those I've known online for a few years now, and just being able to get away for a few days.

Hopefully, this is finally the beginning of me returning to the research and blogging. I hear the ancestors telling me to get back with it. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

2013 AAHGS Conference - Friday, October 11, 2013

Today was the first full day of speakers at the 2013 AAHGS Conference.

I took in two of the four sessions (Session I and Session IV).

For Session I, which was from 10:30 to 11:30, I attended Toni Carrier's presentation on Port Royal: The Birthplace of Freedom in the Old South. I've known Toni for several years via now the online Genealogy Community. So, not only did I learn a lot about Port Royal but I also got an opportunity to finally meet Toni in person by attending this session.

The events that occurred in Port Royal helped to set the stage for emancipation elsewhere. Some of the interesting facts that I learned from Toni's presentation were

  • 9 of the 16 largest slave holders were in SC
  • More than 5,000 men from SC served in the USCT after the fall of Port Royal 
  • Sherman was forced to call on northern charities to helped provide subsistence to the former slaves
  • Many of the Freedman formed land cooperatives in order to purchase land. Many descendants of the freedmen still live on the land .
To find out more about Toni's work, please be sure to check out Low Country Africana

Lunch was from 11:45 - 1:15 and the keynote speaker was Chris Haley, nephew of Alex Haley, author of Roots. The topic of Chris' speech was Our Ancestors Gave Us the Rights; Our Nation Gives Us the Potential.

Neither my mother nor I attended the 2nd and 3rd sessions for today, which were from 1:30 - 3:45 . Instead, we ventured to the Nashville National Cemetery in order that I could see my Uncle's grave in person. When my Uncle Toussaint passed, I was not able to attend his funeral. I also recently acquired some information on my uncle's life and the struggles that he and my aunt had to go through while pursuing careers in education. Lastly, since my aunt and uncle never had any children and there is no other known family in Tennessee,  it was my own personal way of acknowledging that my uncle would not be forgotten.

After visiting my uncle's grave, I took my mother for a little shopping at the mall. Whenever we travel out of state, mom always wants to check out the stores, even if they are they same ones we have back in North Carolina, because she always looking for a new pair of shoes.

After returning to the conference, mom and I attended separate presentations during Session IV, which was form 4:00 to 5:00. I attended Researching Abandoned Cemeteries by Jo Ann Williams McClellan. Ms. McClellan discussed how she went about trying to find Negro Cemeteries in Maury County, TN.

Ms. McClellan began with the approach of determining the location of Negro schools and churches. This was accomplished by checking records, interviewing local historians and community elders, and contacting local funeral home directors.

Via these methods, names of cemeteries were determined but not always their exact location. In order to better determine the location of the cemeteries Ms. McClellan used the Internet, especially the Geographic Names and Information System (GNIS).

Ms. McClellan's research project was later expanded to include death records because the majority of graves did not contain headstones. More information about Ms. McClellan's project can be found in Gone But Not Forgotten African American Cemeteries and 1908 - 1930 Death Records of Maury County, Tennessee (ISBN 0981995152 9780981995151).

Dinner for tonight was a wonderful buffet which included potato salad, collard greens and potatoes, sweet potato casserole, pulled pork, ribs, and apple cobbler.

After dinner, we heard the final speaker for today, Dr. Learotha Williams, who did a presentation of Slave Grandchildren Remember. Dr. Williams is documenting the remembrances of grandchildren whose grandparents were born into slavery.

And so the day comes to a close. Looking toward another fun filled day tomorrow. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

2013 AAHGS Conference - 150 Sounds of Freedom

This year, thanks to one of my online genealogy buds, Renate from Into the Light, both of us are attending our first African American Historical and Genealogical Society Conference (AAHGS).

Earlier in the year, Renate had inquired if I would be attending the AAHGS conference this year, which is being held in Nashville, TN. After checking out the preliminary information for the conference, I decided I would go. I figured at the very least, I would get a much needed vacation and also thought it would give me a much needed boost to get back to my research.

Although Renate and I have never met each other in person, we recognized each other right off the bat. Renate was in the registration line a few people ahead of me. Renate seems to be as nice in person as the person I've come to know via cyberspace these past few years.

After registration, Renate, her friend Dinah, my trusty genealogy assistant (aka Mom), and I had dinner.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday

Last year, I finally found my Grand Uncle, Willie Felton Pierce,  whom I had been searching for for nearly two years. I was able to get picture of his tombstone via Find A Grave. At that time, I mentioned that I was hoping to visit my Grand Uncle's grave in person, when I attended the Pierce Descendants family reunion. I was especially thrilled that my mother was able to see her uncle's grave. As she mentioned a few times while we were there, she had been to Arlington National Cemetery in her younger days and had no clue that her uncle was interred there.

While at the family reunion, I also learned a bit more about Uncle Felton's life from one of his other nieces (my mother's first cousin), Daisy. Cousin Daisy informed me that Uncle Felton lived with their family (Grand Aunt Ossie) for awhile in Washington, DC. Cousin Daisy state that Uncle Felton returned to GA. After returning to GA,  he got sick and  decided to return to the DC area, where he remained until his death.

And with this new revelation about Uncle Felton, I learned a few more valuable research lessons this year. 

1) Be sure and talk to as many of the family elders as you can. I know this is a basic rule but I often still fail to do it thinking that they don't have anything to new contribute. Each one may be able to only provide a snippet but you know what, a bunch a snippets can sometimes make a whole.

2) Don't just fire questions at them. Cousin Daisy told me about Uncle Felton not be me interviewing her but in just general conversation. I had mentioned to her that mom and I would be visiting Uncle Felton's grave on the way home.

The picture of mom and I at Uncle Felton's grave was taken by my cousin D. Dawkins.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sentimental Sunday - Keep Calm It's the Hosches and Hushes Family Reunion

It's hard to believe it's been 7 months since my last post. Where does the time go? I'll be honest, I've not done any real research in about a year. I'm hoping that is about to change / along with finally getting back to blogging.

Moving along to today's post. Remember, how I had a little dream / goal that my granddaddy Hosch's side of my maternal family would get back together one day. Well, it finally happened this year. The descendants of my grandfather, my grand Uncle, Will Hosch, and granddady and Uncle Will's cousin Eli Hush met on June 22, 2013.

The planning committee consisted of me, two of my second cousins, and 2 second cousins once removed.

We managed to put this together in the span of 4 months (our first meeting was in February). And we've already made plans to get together again in 2014. The most harrowing part of putting this together was trying to find a place to have it that wasn't already booked.

My cousin Toni, who doesn't seem to be in the above picture of the planning committee, found the perfect place for our reunion.

Here are a few pics from the 2013 reunion.

Cousin Eli's Great Grands

Cousin Thelma

The Cook - Cousin Willie

Some even got in some fishing, which we ate later.

Cousin Roy giving a little Family History

The kids just loved the water!

My momma and her first cousin, Doris

Pictures for the post were provided by my cousin Claude Hosch, the family photographer. The Keep Calm Poster was generated by my cousin Toni.