African American News and Genealogy

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Saturday, April 16, 2005

Emancipation Day Festivities Planned

The D.C. government is sponsoring a variety of activities tomorrow to celebrate Emancipation Day -- the anniversary of the date that President Abraham Lincoln freed all slaves in the District. The event is a holiday in the city, and the Department of Motor Vehicles will close all facilities for the day. A wreath-laying ceremony at 10 a.m. at Lincoln Park in Northeast and a parade at 11 a.m. on Pennsylvania Avenue between Fourth and 14th streets NW are scheduled. Musicians, dancers and other artists will perform starting at 2 p.m. at Freedom Plaza, 14th and Pennsylvania, followed by a concert at 5:30 p.m. and fireworks at 8:15 p.m. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Act on April 16, 1862, ending slavery in the District nearly nine months before he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves throughout the country.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Other key players in a rich history

BY COLLIN NASH STAFF WRITER, April 8, 2005 The Town of Huntington, like the rest of Long Island, was home to slaves. In fact, Long Island had the largest slave population of any area in the north for most of the colonial era.According to the 1800 census, 4.7 percent of Huntington's population (which then included what is now Babylon) were slaves. By 1850 -- 23 years after slavery had been abolished in New York State -- the percentage of freed blacks in Huntington was about 6 percent. (The percentage has diminished some since then: Blacks in Huntington now comprise 4.2 percent of the population, according to the 2000 census.) Then, as now, the black church was more than a place of praise and worship. It was a place of cultural, political, economic and social exchange. Some of these early churches still function to this day.The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, for example, was incorporated in 1843. The oldest black church in Huntington, it includes names such as Crippin, Powell, Plummer, Allen and Seaman that go back generations to some of the church's early followers.Designated a national historic site in 1985, Bethel AME produced one of Huntington's most celebrated sons in Bishop Decatur Ward Nichols, who died in January this year at 104. Known by his parishioners as the Senior Bishop of Methodism, Nichols, like several other black figures before him, helped forge a historical heritage that makes Huntington a gold mine for history buffs such as Thelma Jackson-Abidally.Luminaries of black history that called Huntington home include: Jupiter Hammon Born in 1711, Jupiter Hammon was sold to the Lloyd family as a boy. Hammon lived and worked in Lloyd Neck in Huntington as a slave for four generations of Lloyds. Slavery, however, couldn't shackle Hammon's intellect. At a time when few African-American slaves could read, Hammon became the first published black American poet. He was among a fortunate handful of slaves who managed to get an education, thanks to Henry Lloyd, a foreign trader and the patriarch of the Lloyd family, who allowed Hammon to attend school with the Lloyd children. Full Story:,0,5138499.story?coll=ny-li-bigpix

Freedom rings loud and clear in District

By Lisa Rauschart SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES One hundred forty-three years ago this Saturday, church bells and fancy dress balls were the order of the day as Washingtonians celebrated the end of slavery in the District of Columbia. For years afterward, parades, programs, and other celebrations were a particular rite of spring and affirmation for black Washingtonians. That's D.C. Emancipation (1862), not the Emancipation Proclamation (1863). "It was such a unique situation," says Council member Vincent Orange, who sponsored the legislation establishing April 16 as a public holiday in celebration of D.C. emancipation. "It actually anticipated Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation by nine months." So you never knew about those Emancipation Day parades, which involved thousands and wended their way along the city's major thoroughfares? You never knew that a cemetery on Benning Road contains some of the leading black citizens of post-Civil War Washington? Did you know that Abraham Lincoln retreated to a small cottage north of the White House to work on his own Emancipation Proclamation? These and other stories are part of the nation's capital's other history, hidden to some, but always obvious to others. Things will become a little more apparent after this weekend, with a host of events planned to celebrate Emancipation Day and the presentation of Walking Town, a series of 55 tours into all corners of the city, with several designed to highlight neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River. "We wanted to showcase the entire city as a cultural community," says Kathy Smith, outgoing director of Cultural Tourism DC, a coalition of 140 cultural and arts organizations from every part of the city, which is coordinating the Walking Town project. "Eighteen to twenty million people come every year to the National Mall and never find the city." Full Story:

The Gilmore Cabin and Farm

the home of freedman George Gilmore and his wife, Polly, will open to the public on Saturday at James Madison's Montpelier

April 14, 2005 1:10 amBy EMILY GILMORE THE FREE LANCE-STAR In 1880, 15 years after the Civil War ended, freedman and farmer George Gilmore's personal property included one horse, two cows, four swine and various poultry. All together, his assets were worth $26. Gilmore, a former slave at President James Madison's estate of Montpelier in Orange County, lived with his family in a 1-story cabin on land he leased from Dr. James Madison, a great-nephew of the president. "They were pretty representative of what an African-American household looked like at the time," said Matthew Reeves, director of archaeology at Montpelier. The Gilmores' cabin fell into disrepair after the last members of the family quitted the dwelling in the 1930s, but Montpelier officials have spent the last four years researching, stabilizing and restoring the structure to tell the story of the Gilmore family. "The driving motivation was that we wanted to be able to tell the story of the African-American experience here at Montpelier, as well as that of the Madisons," said Jon Bowen, Montpelier's director of communications. The Gilmore Cabin and Farm will be open to the public for the first time on Saturday, and it will remain open on Saturdays and Sundays through October. John Charles Thomas, the first black justice on the Supreme Court of Virginia, will speak at the opening, and 14 State Supreme Court justices from around the country will attend. The Gilmore Cabin is believed to be the first restored freedman's home in the United States, "based on our discussions with peer sites around the country," Bowen said

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Monday, April 11, 2005

Lincolnville, a Historic Community in St. Augustine

By Angela Spears, First Coast News

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL -- St. Augustine is the oldest city in the nation. It's also home to a neighborhood called Lincolnville. It was established at the end of the Civil War. Lincolnville was home to freed slaves who had no where to go.There is a lot of history in the historic community. It was once called "Little Africa" and the Harlem of the South. It starts at Bridge Street and runs south to South Street. Lincolnville is about 100 square blocks. City Commissioner Errol Jones grew up in the area. He says he's seen lots of changes over the years. There's been a push to revitalize the area. Jones says it's a double-edged sword. He says some people want the revitalization.

They are coming in and rehabbing old homes. But at the same time, Jones says because of this growth, some of the older African American community members are leaving. Jones describes Lincolnville as a community in transition. One thing many people agree on is saving the Echo House. It's an old home that many want to make into a community learning center. It's also been the site of filming for the movie "Things That Hang From Trees."Lincolnville was the hub of the Civil Rights Movement. The late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stayed in a couple of homes in the area. Protestors often gathered for rallies on King Avenue. The stories go on and on about historic Lincolnville. For more information, click on the link above.


Lust Across the Color Line and the Rise of the Black Elite

By BRENT STAPLES he 1998 DNA study that linked Thomas Jefferson to the final child of his lover Sally Hemings has settled one argument and fired up another. Most historians who had argued that Jefferson was too pure of heart to bed a slave have re-evaluated 200 years of evidence and embraced the emerging consensus: that Jefferson had a long relationship with Hemings and probably fathered most, if not all of her children. Having acknowledged the relationship, these historians are now trying to explain it. This has sent them scrambling back to the 19th-century accounts of life at Monticello by two former slaves: Jefferson's former servant, Israel Jefferson, and the founder's son, Madison Hemings. This represents the rehabilitation of Madison, who was being vilified as a liar even 10 years ago. Madison's memoir, based partly on family history conveyed to him by his mother, is as close to the voice of Sally Hemings as we will ever come. But neither of these brief accounts, published in an Ohio newspaper in 1873, reveals anything about the intimate texture of the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. They tell us a great deal, however, about the circumstances that created the black intelligentsia that sprang to life during Reconstruction and that dominated African-American cultural, intellectual and political life through the first half of the 20th century. This black intelligentsia did not spring fully formed from the cotton fields. It had its roots in the families of mixed-race slaves like the Hemingses, who served as house servants for generations, often in the homes of white families to whom they were related. Employed in "the big house," these slaves often learned to read, at a time when few slaves were literate. They also absorbed patterns of speech, dress and deportment that served them well after emancipation. Many of them were set free by their guilt-ridden slave owner fathers long before the official end of slavery. The Hemings children were all free by 1829 - or more than a third of a century before slavery was finally abolished. Not surprisingly, mixed-race offspring who were well educated became teachers, writers, newspaper editors. They formed the bedrock of an emerging black elite and were disproportionately represented in the African-American leadership during Reconstruction and well into the 20th century. Not all of these mixed-race children fared so well, however. Many were sold or passed on as chattel to relatives in their fathers' wills. This was in fact the case with Sally Hemings, one of several children born to a mixed-race slave named Betty Hemings and a white lawyer and businessman named John Wayles - the father of Thomas Jefferson's wife, Martha. When Wayles died, Martha inherited some of her enslaved half siblings, including Sally Hemings. Sally Hemings was just a child when she accompanied Jefferson and his daughter to France for more than two years. Madison tells us in his memoir that his mother became pregnant by Jefferson in France, where she was considered free. She refused to return to America, he said, until Jefferson agreed to free all of the children born of their relationship. Madison recalls that he and his siblings were favored at Monticello, and allowed to spend their time in the "great house," where they could be close to their mother. Madison further asserts that they knew of Jefferson's plans to emancipate them. "We were free from the dread of having to be slaves all our lives long, and were measurably happy," he says. Jefferson's favoritism, however, did not include affection. Jefferson's black children, who seem never to have received so much as an embrace or a peck on the cheek, watched in what must have been painful silence as the great man doted on his white grandchildren. Madison says, "We were the only children of his by a slave woman." The "great house" at Monticello offered abundant opportunities for encounters with the great minds of the day. Israel Jefferson, for example, recalls being present when Jefferson and Lafayette debated the question of slavery. Raised in such a context, the Hemings children - and others like them - were probably better prepared for middle-class life than most people, either black or white. Indeed, historians who have followed the Hemings descendants through time have found that the cultural capital acquired by Hemings children at Monticello translated into upward mobility. Historians who are now searching for ways to understand the Jefferson-Hemings relationship have several models from which to choose. Some masters developed caring, de facto marriages with enslaved women and tried to leave their children money and property in their wills. Other masters were serial rapists or plantation potentates who made harems in their slave quarters and were profoundly indifferent to their offspring. For the time being, however, the last word on this issue should go to Madison Hemings, who flatly and dispassionately describes the relationship as a bargain, in which his mother consented to share Jefferson's bed in exchange for the emancipation of her children. That she had the courage to articulate this deal - and stand firm on its terms - makes her more than a mere concubine. It makes her the architect of her family's freedom. Full Story:

Descendents Recall Early Appling County Settlers

How much do you know about your family's past? Probably a lot if you all come from one community near Baxley in Appling County. A two-mile stretch of highway there now has a new name. The Heritage Parkway pays tribute to the pioneers of the 1820s who founded the community. "It's just hard to imagine what those folks when through to make the trip across the Altamaha, not knowing what was on the other side, whether they'd live or die," said Greg Kennedy of the Appling Heritage Council. A monument shows the 83 families that settled here. Part of the challenge was knowing which settlers to honor. When Appling County was founded, it included this and 11 other present-day counties. Many on hand at the dedication trace back to more than one family. "Summerall over there--hard to remember them all--Tillman over there. Tyre from my husband's family," said descendent Barbara Baker. Some find their history through descendents of freed slaves. "My grandfather was one of the first black settlers in this community," said Rebecca McTier Ogden. "At the time he came here, there were no other black settlers." The parkway also features new pear trees that pay tribute to today's generation. "We already have some from our Asian community, our African American community, our Hispanic community," said project chairman Stan Brobston. "People have purchased trees. It's not just the early white settlers." People there say they'll think of forefathers every time they drive by. The Heritage Parkway is located off US 1 south of Baxley. Reported by: Dal Cannady,

Friday, April 08, 2005

New African-American Firm to Tackle Big Business

New York Lawyer April 7, 2005 By Meredith Hobbs Daily Report When new corporate law firm Molden Holley Fergusson Thompson & Heard opened for business on Monday, it mae history, said its five partners. Molden Holley will be the first African-American firm in Atlanta made up of lawyers with big-firm corporate experience, they said. Four of the partners are Alston & Bird alums and the fifth worked at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan and Hunton & Williams. Three other lawyers are joining the firm as of counsel. Regina S. Molden, the new firm’s founder, was a fourth-year associate in the securities litigation group at Alston & Bird. She has the fewest years of legal experience of anyone in the firm, but a prior career in business made her the obvious choice for managing partner. Three of the firm’s other partners, Oni A. Holley, Colette Y. Fergusson and E. Steven Thompson, are also Alston alums. The fourth, Bradley E. Heard, was a classmate of Thompson’s at Yale Law School. The new partners said there’s an unmet demand in the Atlanta market for an African-American firm capable of doing complex business transactions and litigation. Complete Story:

HHS Launches African American Obesity Initiative

Thursday April 7, 3:00 pm ET WASHINGTON, April 7 /PRNewswire/ -- HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt announced today the award of $1.2 million to improve efforts to reduce obesity among African Americans through a new partnership with national African American organizations. "The obesity epidemic is one of the major health challenges facing our nation, and African American communities are highly affected by this disease and its health consequences," Secretary Leavitt said. "The initiative we are announcing today will mobilize three of the nation's premier academic and civic organizations to join us in a new partnership to mount critical prevention efforts in the African American community." The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), Silver Spring, Md., will work with the National Urban League, New York, N.Y., and the National Council of Negro Women, Washington, D.C. Initiatives planned by these organizations include prevention, education, public awareness, and outreach activities intended to bring about a greater understanding of the impact of obesity on other conditions. Full Story:

California’s largest banks shortchange African American and Latino borrowers

‘Redlining is at work here with its whiff of institutionalized racism,’ says Oakland city attorney San Francisco – A just released report on bank lending in California found that Citigroup, HSBC and Wells Fargo each made home loans that cost African Americans and Latinos more than 2.5 times as much as most other bank customers. The report, “Who Really Get Home Loans: Year Eleven,” documents a high-priced credit system for households of color in the cities of Oakland, Sacramento, Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego. The report was compiled by the Bay Area-based California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC). “What you look like and where you live should not determine whether you get a loan or how much it costs,” said Kevin Stein, CRC’s associate director. “Citigroup, Countrywide, H&R Block, HSBC, National City, Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo must ensure that every customer has equal access to the lowest cost loan product for which they qualify, and that all loans are priced fairly.” Full Story:

Thursday, April 07, 2005

African-Americans get help in tracking family history

By Kristen GreenUNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER April 4, 2005 Margaret Lewis developed an interest in her family history watching her father research his roots. When an elderly uncle visited 10 years ago, Lewis' father suggested that she interview him. After listening to her great-uncle's stories about their family, including a grandfather who had been born into slavery, she started filling holes on the family tree. "I've been hooked ever since," said Lewis, 57. A year later, the Skyline woman helped found the San Diego African American Genealogy Research Group, which provides support to its 50 members who are tracing their heritage and encourages others to begin working on their family trees. Full Story:

African American Women & Entrepreneurship Research Study Being Conducted

ARLINGTON, TEXAS, (NAMC) – An online survey has been developed for research of African American Women & Entrepreneurship, and their thoughts and opinions if there is an over-investment of African-American women business owners in the Service sector when compared to other business sectors. Tamara Johnson, the founder and owner of Proverbs Consulting is currently working on a PhD dissertation project for her requirements for a doctorate in Business Administration from Kennedy Western University. Ms. Johnson’s dissertation topic is African-American Women & Entrepreneurship. The research includes an online survey targeting African-American women small business owner is designed to obtain their feedback and attitudes towards small-business ownership and their thoughts of the future for African-American Women small-business ownership. The online survey can be accessed at thorugh early April 2005. Full Story:

Harvard loses another faculty member

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (Reuters) -- Another member of Harvard University's African-American studies department said on Tuesday he will leave the school in what one critic called the latest sign of discontent with President Lawrence Summers. Michael Dawson will be the third professor to leave the department this academic year and the fifth since 2002, when Professor Cornel West -- known for his book "Race Matters" on race relations in America -- decamped for Princeton University following a well-publicized dispute with Summers. News of the departure dealt a setback both to efforts to rebuild Harvard's once-vaunted Department of African and African American Studies and to Summers, who has struggled to defuse a controversy sparked by his remarks on women. Full Story:

Another prof bolts Harvard African-American Studies dept

By Laura CrimaldiWednesday, April 6, 2005 - Updated: 01:39 PM ESTIn a continuing exodus from Harvard University's African-American Studies Department, professor Michael C. Dawson has announced his resignation, prompted in part by the departure of four other high-profile scholars. ``The research environment has changed since I first accepted the offer to Harvard,'' said Dawson, who added personal reasons also influenced his decision. ``I thought I would be able to work with, among others, Cornel West, Anthony Appiah, Lawrence Bobo and Marcyliena Morgan.'' Those scholars have left Harvard since Dawson joined the faculty in 2002. Bobo, who Dawson collaborated with in researching the electoral racial divide during the 2000 presidential election, left the faculty in January after university President Lawrence H. Summers denied his wife, Morgan, tenure. West departed for Princeton University in 2002 after a bitter public dispute with Summers. Appiah left for Princeton the same year, citing personal reasons. Dawson will return to the University of Chicago where he taught for 10 years. In a statement, William C. Kirby, dean of the faculty of arts and sciences, expressed sadness over Dawson's departure, describing him as an ``eminent political scientist.'' Source:

African American Entrepreneur Brings African American Consumers And Businesses Together on The Internet

Augusta, GA -- Eric Brown the founder of the “African American Art On-Line Store” located at, which is widely considered one of the most popular African American art websites on the internet today, recently announced the opening of a new African American shopping portal titled “African American Shopping Today” located at The African American Shopping Today website was created to help solve two common problems that many African American consumers and African American businesses face on a daily bases. The problem for consumers is finding reliable African American websites on the Internet that sell quality African American related products at reasonable prices. The problem for businesses is finding affordable and effective advertising resources on the Internet that primarily cater to African American consumers who are actively looking to purchase African American related products. Full Story:

Faith Notes: News from the pulpit & pews: African American pastors partner with Red Cross to save lives

by TALISE D. MOORERAmsterdam News StaffOriginally posted 4/6/2005 “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” Proverbs 29:2 (KJV)The African American Pastors Coalition, a group of senior pastors and clergy in the Greater Dallas and Forth Worth areas, have joined in a pilot program encompassing blood drives at their churches, as well as health education and scholarship opportunities. The goal of the program, which runs April 1, 2005, through February 28, 2006, is to collect 2,700 units. If successful, the Red Cross will donate $5,000 in scholarships for youth.“One of the Coalition’s goals is to provide leadership in educating local residents about important issues affecting the lives of many,” said Dr. Jerry L. Christian, President of the Coalition. “And the need for volunteer blood donors is a huge issue that must be addressed.”For further details about the initiative, call (972) 241-4483.

Footsteps to freedom and a savage war's end

2-mile walking tour traces Lincoln's path through the fallen Confederate capital BY DENA SLOAN TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER Apr 4, 2005 Robert Armidon is the kind of guy to appreciate receiving information about Civil War-era documents as a birthday gift. He's also the kind of person who is perfectly happy tromping around downtown Richmond on a chilly, cloudy, blustery Sunday afternoon. "Lincoln is my personal hero," said the Washington area man as he and his girlfriend walked hand-in-hand up 14th Street to Broad Street yesterday, following what is thought to have been the president's path when he toured the fallen Confederate capital city 140 years ago near the end of the Civil War. Armidon was one of about 40 people to participate in a 2-mile walking tour yesterday that traced Lincoln landing on the banks of the James River, traveling to the abandoned home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Capitol Square after many Southern soldiers fled the city. Full Story: