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

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Unifying Culture: Black History Museum’s new exhibit examines Alexandria’s roots in Africa.

When Louis Hicks became director of the Alexandria Black History Museum, he found an impressive, but fragmented, array of items and exhibits. “We didn’t have a complete document assembled about African-American culture,” he explained. The museum’s efforts to create this document quickly became broader and deeper than had been imagined, and not so unified after all. At the urging of Jean Federico, the director of the Office of Historic Alexandria at the time, the museum decided to make slavery the focal point of its exploration of black culture. This created a need to portray the life in Africa that slavery destroyed. The ambition to document black history over 250 years produced a plethora of material “that was way beyond our space capacity,” said Hicks. So planners of the exhibit, titled “Securing the Blessings of Liberty,” decided to break it into three phases. The first phase begins with life in Africa and covers a time span up to 1820. It will open June 23 and run for about two years. Audrey Davis, the museum’s assistant director and exhibit curator, said it was important to trace black culture to its roots in Africa. “When people talk about slavery, they … don’t talk about the full lives of the people that were taken, like they lived in this vacuum before they were enslaved,” said Davis. “But they had what people had in this country: their own societies, their own culture. They had a life in Africa that was disrupted by the slave trade. They were taken away from that and brought here and had this new life enforced on them.”Davis said “Securing the Blessings of Liberty” will focus on what life was like for black people in Alexandria. “Alexandria was a very bustling town,” Davis said. It exported tobacco and received exports from all over the world. “Part of that cargo was human cargo.” Davis said research indicates Market Square was the site of slave sales. But there was also a burgeoning free black population that developed at the turn of the century. “You would have these people who were enslaved living next door to people who were free,” Davis said. “I’m sure there were relationships that developed where people fell in love.” She said she had seen documentation of freed slaves trying to buy the freedom of a family member, or a man trying to buy the freedom of a woman he wanted to marry.DAVIS SAID she thought the most fascinating aspect of the exhibit was “learning the survival strategies that slaves would have to use to get by or that free blacks had to use. Even though you’re free and had your manumission papers, you didn’t know that people would always honor those … you never knew what action you could take one day that could result in your death the next day.” But finding these stories of survival “with that kind of fear,” as Davis put it, was a difficult task. The nature of slavery meant that few artifacts of its existence survived, and much fewer were purposefully preserved. Planning and research for the exhibition began in 2001. It was an effort that involved every department and every museum in the Office of Historic Alexandria. Jackie Cohan, Alexandria’s archivist, said she played only a small role in the collaboration, compiling lists of research for other researchers. “It was very, very difficult to find items,” she said. Most of the records that exist on slavery were compiled by slave-owners. But the efforts of the Historical Office paid off. Full Story:

June 19th Marks a Joyous, Yet Solemn, Occasion

Today, June 19th, is America's second Independence Day. There's the biggie -- the July 4th celebration of the nation's founding. But five states and 205 U.S. cities have also proclaimed June 19th an independence holiday. "Juneteenth," as it is called, commemorates the official and final end of slavery for about four million African Americans 141 years ago. Two years into the U.S. Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring slaves in the southern Confederacy free. But it had little practical effect, since the war was raging, and the Union was in no position to enforce it. Even ten weeks after the southern army surrendered in April 1865, defiant slaveholders still held human chattel in Texas, the most remote of the Confederate states. But on June 19th, 1865, Union general Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, then the biggest city in Texas, and announced that the last southern slaves were henceforth free. For years thereafter, many southern blacks took off work on June 19th to gather for home-cooked meals, prayer, storytelling, re-enactments of General Granger's proclamation, and lots of singing. Full Story:

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Staying slavery museum's course

After 13 years, Wilder still raising money; weekend gala to help BY KIRAN KRISHNAMURTHY TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER FREDERICKSBURG -- L. Douglas Wilder can remember as a boy asking about his grandparents, who were slaves. "He would not talk about it," Wilder recalled of his father during a speech this year in Washington. "My mother would encourage him and said, 'Robert, tell him, please!' And he would bite down on his pipe, clench it and almost snap it in two. And he would tell a little, and a little, and I would ask for more." Wilder, who rose to become the nation's first elected black governor, is pressing to build a museum in Fredericksburg that will tell the story of his grandparents and millions of others who suffered under the yoke of slavery in the United States. It is a mission he first conceived during a trip to West Africa as governor of Virginia in the early 1990s. Tomorrow night, the journey takes him to the Warner Theatre in Washington for a black-tie gala fundraiser, featuring entertainers Bill Cosby and Ben Vereen, to benefit the United States National Slavery Museum. Full Story:!news&s=1045855934842

A tribute for the pioneers

Negro League players honored in ceremony By DON Posted: June 2, 2006 Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder and Bill Hall represent the future of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Buck O'Neil, James Jake Sanders and Dennis Biddle represent baseball's past. So it was both symbolic and poignant that, in pregame ceremonies before Milwaukee's game Friday night, the young Brewers expressed their appreciation of the three Negro League veterans with hugs and handshakes behind home plate. Friday night was the Brewers' first Negro Leagues Tribute, an event they plan to stage each season. This year, the Brewers brought in Buck O'Neil, still active at 94; James Jake Sanders, 73; and Dennis Biddle, 70, of Milwaukee as the first honorees. The names of all three were placed on the Miller Park Wall of Honor. On the field, the Brewers sported reproductions of uniforms worn by the Milwaukee Bears, a team that played in the Negro National League in 1923, while the Washington Nationals wore uniforms of the Negro National League's Homestead Grays. That team played in Washington from 1937-'48. The three Negro Leaguers all have résumés from the Negro Leagues era, especially O'Neil, who had a long and prosperous career with the old Kansas City Monarchs. In 1962, he became the first African-American coach in the major leagues when he was with the Chicago Cubs. Sanders played in 1956 for the Detroit / New Orleans Stars, played briefly in the Dodgers farm system in 1957 and later returned to the Kansas City Monarchs through the 1958 season.

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