African American News and Genealogy

This site was developed to provide you with news that relates to African American Genealogy, History and News. Please feel free to forward this link to others. I hope you enjoy this site and good luck with your research! Cheers, Kenyatta D. Berry Managing Director

Monday, May 29, 2006

A soldier's true color

A soldier's true color Iowa cemetery honors discovery that Revolutionary War fighter was black Gerome Crayton of Keokuk is taking to heart his portrayal of Cato Mead, a black Revolutionary War soldier buried near Montrose."This guy was a neat guy. He was looking for a peace in his life, and he settled here in Iowa,'' Crayton said. "I'm glad that after his story has been hidden in the dark for many years, he is finally getting recognized.''On Memorial Day weekend, when the graves of so many soldiers, sailors and Marines are decorated, a monument to Mead will be among the seven featured in a cemetery tour today.One of 41 Revolutionary War soldiers who died or were buried in Iowa, Mead "may very well be" the only black Revolutionary War soldier buried west of the Mississippi River, said Maurice Barboza, founder of a Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to erecting a monument to the more than 5,000 blacks who fought in the War for Independence.Residents of Montrose have known for years that the area was the final resting place for a Revolutionary War soldier. But there was an important nugget of information about Mead that slipped from common knowledge as the story passed from generation to generation, local historians say.The fact that Mead was black resurfaced last fall as researchers prepared for Memorial Day 2006 weekend observances in this Lee County community of about 900 people.Barbara MacLeish of Minneapolis, whose father lives in Montrose, discovered in census records that Mead was a "freed man of color," a black man who served in the Revolutionary War."It was just unbelievable at first," said Mary Sue Chatfield, a member of Montrose Riverfront Inc., which recently opened the Hunold Heritage Center museum. "We were just amazed. It was known that he was a Revolutionary War soldier, but no one paid that close attention. ... There aren't many living descendants of people buried in the old part of the cemetery."Even in small communities, names of many settlers have long been forgotten. Full Story:

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Ghana to Offer Lifetime Visas to U.S. Slave Descendants

BY LAURIE GOERING Chicago Tribune ACCRA, Ghana - Ever since Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first president, invited his classmates from Pennsylvania's Lincoln University to come home with him to help build Africa, African-Americans have been coming to Ghana to visit, work, volunteer, invest or live in what has become the quintessential African homeland. W.E.B. Du Bois lived here. So did Maya Angelou. Today the country, once at the heart of Africa's slave-trading routes, has the largest community of African-Americans in West Africa, most of whom have come looking for their roots and a sense of purpose. Now Ghana, a poor country eager for more American tourists, donors and investors, is about to make life even easier for its far-flung black diaspora: It plans to soon offer slave descendants lifetime visas or even dual Ghanaian-U.S. citizenship. "Who we most want as tourists and investors are our own people who left 200 or 300 years ago," said Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, the country's tourism chief, whose department last month was renamed the Ministry for Tourism and Diasporan Relations. "It's not just about blood ties. It's good economic sense." Lifetime visas should be easy for regular visitors to get. But the new passports - still awaiting approval in Parliament - won't be handed to just anyone, Obetsebi-Lamptey said. African-Americans eager for formal Ghanaian identity will have to commit to invest, help develop or live in Ghana because "citizenship carries some responsibility," he said. Ghana does not offer any particular tax breaks for investors from the diaspora. But it is eager for help from its relations abroad, be it regular visits from American tourists, donations to development projects or investment in job-creating enterprises it desperately needs, officials said. Full Story:

Tend the graves, but also preserve the stories of those lying in them

I remember Memorial Day 1977. It was hot, and my mother's people piled into their cars and headed out to pull weeds and clean off the graves at the old Mt. Olive Hills Cemetery. It was still customary then for families to take turns cleaning up their ancestral graveyards. Today Mt. Olive Cemetery is dwarfed by new development. But 30 years ago that ancient burial ground off Maryland Rte. 31, between New Windsor and Libertytown, was in the woods, and with my citified self I recall being terrified that I'd be bitten by a snake. Needless to say, I didn't do much grave-cleaning, but I walked the grounds reading tombstones and taking pictures, including the one to the right of my great Uncle Howard Brown, my grandfather's younger brother. My mother's sister, Aunt Eloise, is buried in Mt. Olive Hills. Her son, Charles Hollingsworth, lives nearby, and recently shared with me some of his recollections of the cemetery and the long-since disappeared Mt. Olive Hills United Methodist Church that our family attended for years. Full Story:

County to buy ex-slave town

Officials say deal keeps Mitchelville from builders BY GINNY SKALSKI, The Island Packet Published Tuesday, May 23, 2006 BEAUFORT -- Portions of historical land on Hilton Head Island that once served as the country's first town for freed slaves would be saved from development under a purchase approved Monday by the Beaufort County Council. The council voted to spend $225,000 toward buying 2.31 acres that once made up the town of Mitchelville, the first community established on Hilton Head after the Civil War. The purchase eventually could pave the way for the expansion of Fish Haul Creek Park -- a large chunk of the Mitchelville site already under the town's control -- to near Dillon Road. The deal is contingent upon the Hilton Head Town Council agreeing to contribute $225,000. The approval is expected to come at its next meeting, according to Russ Marane, project manager for The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit organization hired by the county and town to manage land acquisition programs. The land fronts Dillon Road near its intersection with Beach City Road. The Trust for Public Land is working to help the governments acquire six parcels totaling eight acres of the historic Mitchelville property, Marane said. "These properties are the only ones where we have the potential for willing sellers," Marane said. "The owners of other properties intend to develop their property." In all, he estimates it would cost about $3 million to buy the eight acres, with Beaufort County's share being up to $1 million. The town, state and federal government could contribute the rest, Marane said. The land's location near the shores of Port Royal Sound is desirable to developers, but Marane said there are a lot of groups interested in preserving it. Although no other land owners have agreed to sell, a replica of a Civil War general's house sits on some of the land under consideration, Marane said. Full Story:

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Those who love Fairview plan for next incarnation

Sunday, May 21, 2006 By Caitlin Cleary, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Barbara Calloway still remembers, as a little girl, the way her heart would start beating faster whenever the family car pulled onto the country road leading to Fairview Park. A hundred acres of lush, green countryside set in the middle of Westmoreland County's rolling hills, Fairview Park was far from the city and all of its racial land mines, the whites-only lunch counters at the five-and-ten, the off-limits department store dressing rooms, the Kennywood swimming pool that officials reportedly opted to close in the early 1950s rather than integrate. Out here, there were no restrictions, said Mrs. Calloway, a retired teacher from Point Breeze. "You could just run and run, and not worry." During the 1940s, a group of African-American churches from Pittsburgh and the Monongahela Valley had come together to find an alternative to local amusement parks such as Kennywood and West View, which excluded blacks. In 1945, they bought 100 acres in Westmoreland County, envisioning a place for Sunday school picnics, family reunions, weddings, where African-American families could have fun and a sense of belonging. During the height of its popularity, Fairview Park had a roller coaster, a merry-go-round, a skating rink, a swimming pool, softball fields, swings, see-saws, a sandbox, a petting zoo, even hot-air balloon rides on Fairview Park Day. And its well water "was the best-tasting water in the world," said Mrs. Calloway, 63. Full Story:

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Rachel Eubanks, 83; Music Teacher Set High Standards for Her Students for 50-Plus Years

By Jocelyn Y. Stewart, Times Staff Writer May 13, 2006 Among the first students to study piano under Rachel Eubanks were her two younger brothers, who learned in the living room of the family home during the Great Depression.The boys soon discovered that their teacher was aiming high. She expected her students to focus, use proper hand position, appreciate the work of the masters — never mind that they were only 6 and 9 or that she was just 12. She wanted to direct us to a high standard," recalled Jonathan Eubanks, who was 6 when he began studying with his sister. "She was a disciplinarian. In other words, don't waste her time. We couldn't sit there and decide to play boogie-woogie if she was teaching us Beethoven."For more than 50 years, Eubanks taught music in Los Angeles in much the same manner. Many of those years were spent on Crenshaw Boulevard near 48th Street, where two converted houses served as the campus for the Eubanks Conservatory of Music and Arts.At its height, the nonprofit institution was accredited by the state and each year offered hundreds of students classical training, pushing generation after generation to strive for musical greatness. Full Story:,1,7232316.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-california&ctrack=1&cset=true

Sunday, May 07, 2006

40-acre order pledged ex-slaves land on St. Johns

Jim Robison Special to the Sentinel Posted May 7, 2006 Got plans for the summer? I do. Books, books and more books.I just took my final exam for a UCF history class on the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era, one of several classes I'm taking to get a better perspective on what was going on in this nation and the world during Florida's frontier years. That exam covered six books, including W.E. B. Du Bois' The Souls of Black Folk, the African-American scholar's 1903 collection of essays considered by many historians as essential reading. I read it some three decades ago, but that was long before I started writing Seminole's Past.I don't recall if this sentence jumped out at me then, but it sure did on re-reading. In his chapter "Of the Dawn of Freedom" on the Freedmen's Bureau created in the post-Civil War federal government's efforts to provide education and jobs for former slaves, Du Bois writes, "The islands from Charleston south, the abandoned rice fields along the rivers for thirty miles back from the sea, and the country bordering the St. Johns River, Florida, are reserved and set apart for the settlement of Negroes now made free by act of war."Du Bois is quoting from Union Gen. William T. Sherman's famed "Forty Acres and a Mule" provisions of his Field Order Number Fifteen. After the reference to the war, the actual document reads "and the proclamation of the President of the United States."Just consider what that order meant for the St. Johns River valley, which starts its northern flow just west of Vero Beach and meanders through the interior to become the east boundary of Seminole County before rolling on an eastern loop back to the Atlantic at Jacksonville. Seminole County's lakes Monroe, Jesup and Harney are really just wide spots along the St. Johns.All that land on both sides of the river and stretching inland for no specific distance was included in Sherman's order.Sherman, whose scorched-earth March to the Sea after burning Atlanta made him one of the most hated Union generals among Confederates, issued his order because so many freed slaves were following his army. Besides reserving a huge territory of abandoned lands in farms of up to 40 acres, Sherman later added mules from the Army's surplus herd. Full Story:,0,4614205.story?coll=orl-news-headlines-seminole

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A look at one of the historic African-American communities in Baltimore County ?

by Louis S. DiggsBaltimore TimesOriginally posted 5/5/2006 East TowsonThis article will provide you with a brief look at another one of the historic African American communities in Baltimore County. The community is called East Towson, located in the town of the County Seat of Government, Towson, Maryland. Some say that East Towson has been in existence since the slavery era; some say that this unique historic African-American community has been the home for freed slaves as early as 1802; however, it is a known fact that it was a freed slave from the Hampton Mansion in Towson by the name of Daniel Harris, who on September 14, 1853 purchased an acre and a quarter of land from Benjamin Payne for $187.50 on which he eventually built his home. His land was near the roadway and is now known as Hillen Road.Towson had its beginning in 1750, and it was in the 1700s when Charles Ridgley built the Hampton Mansion, with his slaves clearing the land and building the mansion, and it is no doubt that other white families who owned large estates in the Towson area had slaves as well. It is known that Charles Ridgley freed some of his slaves in the late 1820s. His slaves held numerous occupation titles, which is probably why some remained in the Towson area to work rather than migrate to Baltimore. East Towson, like just about all of the historic African-American communities in Baltimore County, began with a Methodist Church as its focal point. East Towson's first African-American church, St. James A.U.M.P. (African Union Methodist Protestant) Church had its beginning in 1861, and is believed to be the second oldest church in Towson. Actually, East Towson has been blessed with three African-American churches: St. James A.U.M.P. Church, Mt. Olive Baptist Church and Mt. Calvary AME Church, that served the community.There have been two African- American schools in East Towson, the first being a one-room schoolhouse near Mt. Calvary AME Church, and the other on Lennox and Jefferson Avenues. The later school eventually became Carver High School when in 1939, secondary education became a part of the curriculum in three schools in the county. It is so wonderful that Carver High School still stands today, serving as a community center. Full Story:

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


by JOHANNA THATCH-BRIGGS The Wilmington Journal Originally posted 5/1/2006 A celebration is in the making as the Juneteenth Committee of Wilmington and the Tauheed Islamic Center is gearing up for the local annual Juneteenth Festival. Members of the community are encouraged to mark the calendar for Friday, June 16 and Saturday, June 17 for a weekend filled with various activities.Across the nation, African American communities will honor former slaves from Galveston, Texas who had no idea they had been liberated through the Emancipation Proclamation, which took effect on January 1, 1863. In fact over two years had passed when Major General Gordon Granger traveled through Galveston spreading the word on June 19, 1865. When they heard of the news, the freed slaves celebrated for days.Today the tradition is being carried out by the descendents of African slaves, and it has been deemed as a time for assessment and self-improvement.This year, Friday’s activities will include a talent show for children ages 12 and under and teenager ages 13 and older. Prizes will be awarded.On Saturday, a parade will line up at 10 a.m. at Fifth and Castle streets. Full Story: