AFoF, Cousin Musings, Taliaferro

King’s DREAM. Sandra’s HOPE. A Community’s WORK. #DREAMFORWARD

Dr. Martin Luther KING Jr.On Wednesday January 15th, 2014 the world will pause in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 85th birthday.

As a Nation, we will never forget Dr. King’s life and civic legacy.

As a person of color, whose southern-born Grandparents vested in the hope of the Civil Rights Movement, I can never detach from King’s Dream.

A multi-hued, non-violent army [that included my Ancestors] marched, rode, stood, sat, walked and suffered for a shared Dream. Dr. King gave his life fighting for the People’s Dream.

As beneficiaries of The Movement, we’re often viewed as the fulfillment of King’s Dream. But I ask, are we really?

Are we the fruit of the Civil Rights Movement if we’ve dismissed its most fundamental principle – service to our community? In 2014, are we living or merely reciting Dr. King’s Dream?

What are we doing to help others?

On January 15th 2010, historian Sandra TALIAFERRO penned her favorite blog post, A Friend Of Friends: Lessons From The Underground Railroad.

Sandra’s Roots The Gift narrative is one of hope for descendants on either side of a blemished history to rise and work collectively beyond it.

AFoF sparked in all of us. It was a catalyst leading to racially-mixed discussions on the research responsibility of slavery’s descendants, black and white.

AFoF prompted me to create the Carnival of African American Genealogy (CoAAG) and host its 1st Edition Restore My Name – Slave Records & Genealogy Research, a cross-cultural sharing of slave-related records.  And with CoAAG’s success, we went further to keep the exchange flowing with the launch of A Friend of Friends, a repository of slave documents researchers could contribute to and access online.

We knew oft times overlooked and/or dismissed historic documents, are the key to our research-challenged Slave Ancestry. We hoped our efforts would make a lasting difference.

King a world changer. Sandra a culture changer. Both Dreamers in a society capable of self-correcting its flaws.

Be true keepers of King’s Dream and Sandra’s hope, today. Accept the truth, we must change the world from where we stand. The work is OURS.

On January 15th for the 6th Edition Carnival of African American Genealogy, we’ll pledge dreams for the future via our #DREAMFORWARD Tumblr. Dreams big and small we’ll marry with ACTION in the days and years ahead.

Sandra friends will carry her community hope forward by reblogging her A Friend Of Friends: Lessons From The Underground Railroad wish and continuing the work of fostering a research community where Ancestors of all descendants are acknowledged and respected.

Please join us for BOTH!:)



03 June 2010: 4th Edition: Carnival of African American Genealogy ~ Freedom Tweet 2010 ~ What Does FREEDOM Mean To Me?

The 4th Edition of the CoAAG asks the question-What Does Freedom Mean To Me?  On June 19th in recognition of Juneteenth, and in celebration of Freedom, people will blast the airways with conversations all around the theme of Freedom.  GeneaBloggers and others will converge on for an all day Tweet-A-Thon for FreedomTweet2010.  I hope that everyone will take part in this historic event.

What Does Freedom Me To Me?

I have thought long and hard about the question and my answer. The answer did not come as quickly as one might think, nor was it as simple.

Growing up as a young girl in the segregated South, you might think I would be able to recount occasions when my Freedom, or that of my ancestors, was denied – but, I cannot. You might think that I would remember being turned away from lunch counters or directed to the “Negro” section, drinking from a “colored only” water fountain, or moving to the back of the bus – but, I do not.  I do remember riding in the back of the trolley car, but thought that was just where my mother chose to sit; not that we had to sit there because we did not have the “Freedom” to sit anywhere else. I do remember restrooms in downtown Atlanta labeled “Colored” and “White”, but in my child’s mind I thought the colored one must just be more colorful, but once inside was sad to see the same old white.

Freedom was not a subject I remember hearing discussed in school, at home, or during church.  Looking back I think our parents and elders thought they were protecting us by not talking about those realities of life; the denials of Freedom that they most assuredly faced on a daily basis.  I wonder, “What did Freedom mean to them?”  What did Freedom mean to my mom as she entered the back door of her employer’s home in Buckhead; or to my grandmother as she cooked in that hot hotel kitchen; or to my great grandparents as they labored in the cotton fields of Woodbury, Georgia. What did Freedom mean to my enslaved ancestors upon hearing news of the Emancipation Proclamation? Were they excited, relieved, or just plain scared?  Did they wonder, was this Freedom a trick?  Did they ask “What does this Freedom mean to me?” Did their answer come quickly, in an instant, or did they ponder the thought—Freedom. Freedom! Freedom?  What does F-R-E-E-D-O-M mean?

So again, I ask myself the question “What Does Freedom Mean to Me?”  It is a very subjective question that can elicit a very personal response.  Freedom is living in a country where someone can ask that question, and everyone is free to answer-as they choose, without fear of reprisals.  Earlier Luckie Daniels, host of the 4th Edition CoAAG, posed the question to me.  My response was “Freedom is independent choice; the free will to choose my path through life. Turn left or turn right? I choose and live with MY choice.” For me, a very important aspect of Freedom is choice.

More importantly, for me, Freedom is ACCESSIBILITY.  For me, this symbol  translates to Freedom.  Freedom for me is a life without barriers.  Freedom is accessibility to housing, education, employment, transportation, healthcare, entertainment, and recreation.  Accessibility – that Freedom is very important to me.  Without it I am still me, but not a free me. What’s the point of Freedom, if not to be – Free!


10 May 2010: CoAAG 3rd Edition, They Served with Honor: African-Americans in the Military (1914-1953) ~ John Lawrence Taliaferro, Gunner’s Mate Third Class, USNR

TALIAFERRO-NAVY-DISCHARGE-front-croppedMy father, John Lawrence Taliaferro, served in the Navy during World War II.  He entered active service on 16 July 1942, in Macon, Georgia and was honorably discharged from the U. S. Naval Personnel Separation Center in Shoemaker, California on 5 December 1945. What a great Christmas present for his family who I am sure prayed for his safe return.

I know from my mother that she met my father, shortly after his discharge. My mom told me that when she met my father, he was wearing his Navy uniform. Maybe he was celebrating – happy to be home from the war.  That was the only story I had that placed my father in the military.  In 2006, my cousin gave me his discharge paper, and from that I pieced together more details about his service in the Navy.

My father held several ratings during service including, AS S2c, S1C, and GM3c. I believe the “S” rating stands for Seaman. The GM is for Gunner’s Mate.  I learned that Gunner’s Mates are responsible for the operation and maintenance of guided missile launching systems, gun mounts and other ordnance equipment, as well as small arms and magazines.

On his discharge paper under “Qualifications and Certification Held” is Driving Winch, Checking Ammunition; under “Service (vessels and stations served on)” USNB Nav. Mag. Port Chicago, Calif,- USNB NAD, Mare Island, California, and USNAD, Navy # 66; and under “Remarks” Asiatic-Pacific Theatre, Victory Medal, American Theatre, and Point System.

Obviously, my father completed his tour of duty, and made it home safely. Historically, however, things could have been quite different.


The Port Chicago Disaster

America was swept into World War II on 7 December 1941. As war in the Pacific expanded, the Naval Ammunition Depot at Mare Island, California, was unable to keep up with the demand for ammunition. Port Chicago, California, located 35 miles north of San Francisco, proved an ideal place for the Navy to expand its munitions facilities. Construction at Port Chicago began in 1942. By 1944, expansion and improvements to the pier could support the loading of two ships simultaneously.

African-American Navy personnel units were assigned to the dangerous work at Port Chicago. Reflecting the racial segregation of the day, the officers of these units were white. The officers and men had received some training in cargo handling, but not in loading munitions. The bulk of their experience came from hands-on experience. Loading went on around the clock. The Navy ordered that proper regulations for working with munitions be followed. But due to tight schedules at the new facility, deviations from these safety standards occurred. A sense of competition developed for the most tonnage loaded in an eight hour shift. As it helped to speed loading, competition was often encouraged.

On July 17, 1944, a deadly munitions explosion occurred at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in Port Chicago, California. Munitions detonated while being loaded onto a cargo vessel bound for the Pacific Theater of Operations, killing 320 sailors and civilians and injuring 390 others.  Most of the dead and injured were enlisted African-American sailors; Of the 320 men killed in the explosion, 202 were the African-American enlisted men who were assigned the dangerous duty of loading the ships. The explosion at Port Chicago accounted for fifteen percent of all African-American casualties of World War II.

Source: Naval History & Heritage Command, Navy Department Press Releases, July 16-31, 1944 folder, Box 55, World War II Command File, Operational Archives Branch, Washington, DC.  assessed 8 May 2010.


What does all this mean? Exactly what did my father do while in the Navy during World War II? Honestly, I don’t really know.  As a Gunner’s Mate he was definitely involved with ammunition.  Was he involved in the Port Chicago incident? It’s very likely.  I know he served on vessels during several major campaigns, the Asiatic Pacific Theatre, and the American Theatre.  He also received the Victory Medal which “may be awarded to all members of the Armed Forces of the United States or of the Government of the Philippine Islands who served on active duty in World War II at any time between 7 December 1941 and 31 December 1946.” (Established by Public Law No. 135 of 6 July 1945.)  Source: U.S. Navy Awards Manual, 1953.

My father, John Lawrence Taliaferro, was discharged on 5 December 1945.  He served in the Navy for 3yrs, 4 months, 19 days.  On his discharge paper under “Character of Separation is “Honorable EE”. While I don’t know the specifics of my father’s service in the Navy, I’d like to think he served his country to the best of his ability, and that he served with pride. I’d like to think that my father, John Lawrence Taliaferro, Gunner’s Mate Third Class, USNR, Served with Honor.


25 April 2010: Grandmothers Are Smiling! Thanks for supporting the 2nd Edition of the CoAAG ~ Grandma’s Hand

After reading all the wonderful posts submitted for the 2nd Edition of the CoAAG, I am even more thrilled with the participation we received for this carnival.

Thanks to everyone who submitted a story about their grandmother.  A special thank you to all those who took the time to read the stories and memories, and then leave a comment to the author; I know each one appreciates your support. It was a wonderful CoAAG.  I know our grandmothers are smiling.

Until next time,

Host, 2nd Edition, CoAAG


9 April 2010: Carnival of African American Genealogy, 2nd Edition: Grandma’s Hand ~ Julia Ann (GATES) MIDDLEBROOKS MINTER

Julia-Ann-Gates-Middlebrooks-MinterMy maternal grandmother was Julia Ann GATES. She was born in Woodbury, Meriwether, GA, to Jack GATES and Georgia Ann THOMPSON, on 30 April 1894. She died on 4 January 1970, in Warm Springs, Meriwether, GA (a few days after the death of my father). It was strange to lose two people of such close blood kinship to me yet I never knew one, and had only a distant relationship with the other.

Initially, I thought I’d have very little to write about for this 2nd edition of the CoAAG – Grandma’s Hand; Grandmothers and Their Influence On The Family. I’m the host, and I chose the theme, yet I had no memories to pull from; no words of wisdom or gems to live by from my grandmother. I did not know my grandmother; not in the very personal way that you think of a grandmother/ granddaughter relationship. Honestly, I am deeply saddened by that fact. I thought, “What in the world can I write about? What can I say?” I thought long, and I thought hard. Then I waited, and waited for the memories to come. As a good friend had advised….I waited for my grandmother to speak to me, to show me how to tell her story. Then I realized I did have memories, very vivid memories of several trips down to Woodbury, GA to visit my grandmother. In my memories of those visits are the memories of my grandmother. So, travel with me to Woodbury, GA and meet my grandmother Julia Ann GATES…the way I remember her.

When I was young, my mom and I would take the bus from Atlanta to Woodbury to visit my grandmother. Not often. In fact, I only remember doing that two times. After we got off the bus in town, we had to walk the rest of the way. I remember on the walk to my grandmother’s house we would pass a big white house that sat way back from the road on the left. That is where my grandmother worked as a cook. We would stop there first, and go to the back door to the kitchen where my grandmother was cooking. We never stayed long, just a brief stop, and I always wondered why we had to hurry. I was recently told by a cousin that the “big white house” as I called it was the hotel. The briefness of the visit makes sense now, but it didn’t then. It was not a long walk to my grandmother’s house, but not a short one either. After we crossed the railroad tracks, the road turned to dirt; red dirt, Georgia red clay my mom would say. The next landmark I remember is the old white church on the right. My mother and her brothers went to school in that church. Turn right at the church; that’s what my young mind would say as we walked along; for some reason I was always afraid we would get lost. We walked; sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but always with a sense of purpose…heading to my grandmother’s house. As I think about it now, there was no feeling of happiness or excitement as you would expect on a visit to your grandmother’s.

My grandmother’s house was not far down the road across from an endless field of what I called “white stuff” that was actually cotton. My mom said everybody in our family had picked cotton in that field. It was many years later before I could digest the meaning and significance of that bit of family history. My grandmother’s house was just three rooms. It seemed pretty small when compared to the endless fields of cotton and corn that stretched for miles on either side. I think they called it a shotgun house, because, I was told, you could stand at the front door and shoot straight through the house and out the back door. I guess that was true because from the front door you could look straight down a short hallway to the back door, and outside if the door was open. Silly me, I kept asking “where was the shotgun?”

Once inside, I felt warm and comfortable, a little scared, but safe. Was that the comfort of a grandmother? The feeling I long for today, but can’t quite grasp. There was a bedroom to the right with a beautiful pink bedspread that had lots of flowers; it was shiny, and felt like silk. (I think my grandmother gave me that bedspread, and I still have it somewhere; got to find it). I remember pictures, and other stuff…I wonder what happened to all of it.

To the left was another bigger room with two beds; one along the wall to the right as you entered the door, and another bigger one across from that by the window. That’s where we all slept; in that room with the big fireplace, and lamps that used kerosene. Seems there was also a lot of stuff in that room too; pictures, papers maybe, little things collected during a life of living life. What happened to all my grandmother’s stuff after she died? I wish I had some of it to help me remember her.

The room had an iron railed headboard, and seems I just sank right down in the middle of the bed because it was “a feather mattress” my grandma said. You could feel the memories in that room; decades of my family history. My mom said that once there was a tornado and after it was over the roof was gone, and her brother’s head was trapped between two of those rails in that headboard. (That would be my uncle – Alexander “AJ” MIDDLEBROOKS.) That was sooooo funny to me, and we laughed and laughed…me, my mom, and my grandma. But, after that I was scared to sleep in that bed. Just in case there was another tornado, you understand, right? But, I finally did fall asleep; sunk down in the middle of the feather mattress with my mom and grandma close by, the warmth of the fire from the fireplace, and the kerosene lamp that bathed the room in a soft golden glow.

The kitchen had iron stove, a table, and another bed along the back near the door. There was always food, and the stove was warm from cooking. I woke up to the smell of country ham and fresh biscuits with homemade preserves for breakfast. It must have been my grandma who did all that…taking care of me and my mama on our visit just like grandmothers do. My grandmother sometimes brought food home from the hotel but, if not she always made me fried chicken, biscuits and apple pie. I never actually saw her cooking it, but it was always there still warm and fresh.

In the back down a long path was an outhouse. Oh boy, do I remember that. Now, thinking back I know this was the main reason I was so apprehensive on these visits. There was no way I could hold “it” till we got back to Atlanta, but also nooooooo way I was going out there. So my grandmother made “other arrangements” for me. I will always remember that she told my mom, “Lillian, that girl don’t have to go out there if she don’t want to.” AND I DID NOT!! Every time I think about that I laugh and laugh; it’s pretty funny now, but it sure wasn’t funny then.

Yes, I remember all those things about my grandmother; they are the things that made her who she was and is to me.

I remember that my grandmother came home late, and left out early the next morning going back to work. I remember her being tired and talking about her legs aching, and not being able to do that work much longer. I remember her being sick and in the hospital; diabetes and something about her legs…bad veins and blood clots. I remember my mama going to her funeral without me. I remember feeling sad, but not shedding a tear.

I remember all these “things” about my grandmother, but I don’t remember feeling her in my heart…not until today.


29 March 2010: My Grandmother Always Said……

Grandmothers are always speaking words of wisdom. Little phrases that we tend to reach for and think on in times of need, or sometimes just for comfort and reassurance. A grandmother could always pack a big life-lesson in a few words or a short phrase…most times serious, sometimes funny, always thought-provoking.

I didn’t spend a lot of time with my maternal grandmother, Julia Ann GATES, and never met my paternal grandmother, Fannie Mae LAWRENCE. I often wonder what little sayings or gems to live by they would have given me.

The 2nd edition of the CoAAG, Grandma’s Hand: Grandmothers and Their Influence On The Family, is fast approaching, and will go live on Monday, April 19th. The deadline for submissions is Monday, April 12th. To get you in the mood and spark some of those memories, I thought it would be fun to share some of those grandmother “words of wisdom”….those one-liners that carried more lessons than a year of school. They will be a wonderful preview to the many stories coming up in the CoAGG. Just leave a comment with your favorite saying or quote from your grandmother. I’ll share all those grandmother “gems of wisdom” in the carnival on April 19th. Come on share the love. My Grandmother Always Said……


CoAAG 2nd Edition ~ Grandma’s Hand: Grandmothers and Their Influence On The Family

Write a post about your memories of your grandmother and be sure to include a picture of Grandma if you have one!

Submissions deadline: Monday, 12 April 2010


There are two options:

By Submission Form. Use the quick and easy CoAAG submission form provided by Blog Carnival.
By Email. Send an email to me, Sandra Taliaferro, your 2nd Edition Host. Please remember to include your blog name, the post title, and permalink URL of your carnival submission. Make sure to put ‘Grandma’s Hand’ in your email subject line!

If you’re a first-timer to carnivals, or just need a quick “how to” checkout these two helpful resources:

Blog Carnival FAQs

How to Submit a Post to a Carnival


21 March 2010: Call For Submissions: Carnival of African American Genealogy ~ 2nd Edition Grandma’s Hand: Grandmothers and Their Influence On The Family


Grandma’s hands
Clapped in church on Sunday morning
Grandma’s hands
Played a tambourine so well
Grandma’s hands
Used to issue out a warning
She’d say, “Billy don’t you run so fast
Might fall on a piece of glass
“Might be snakes there in that grass”
Grandma’s hands


Most of us have heard these lyrics from the song “ Grandma’s Hands” which was written by Bill Withers about his own grandmother. Many of us identify with the sentiments conveyed in the song. We have all been touched by the love of Grandma’s Hand.

Historically, grandmothers have played an important role in the family and community. Grandmothers are without a doubt the backbone of the family-the matriarchs. This is especially true for African American families. Our grandmothers took care of us, and some even raised us; they showed unconditional love, and ensured we stayed on the straight and narrow. They spoiled you rotten, but never let you forget who was in charge. When grandmama called, you came running; no I’ll be there in a minute, cause most grand mama’s didn’t take no mess. They were our protectors, our teachers, and our caregivers; a source of wisdom and encouragement. Grandmama always said…. or like my Grandma use to say….you remember it all-these words echo throughout our being, and always seem to be there when we need guidance. If she said it, it must be important, and you remember it to this day. They worked, cooked, and cleaned; they took care of their family, and anybody else who was in need. That’s just the way it was.

Grandmothers are the keepers of the family history and traditions passed down generation to generation. How many of us started our research with an interview with Grandma? She had the stories, the names, and the dates. Many of our grandmothers are gone, but left us with a sense of self and family pride that is the foundation of our very being and who we are today. If you are fortunate to still have your grandmother in your life, treasure every moment for they are the jewels of the family.

The stories and memories of our Grandmothers are as diverse as the two photos above. Each one of these beautiful ladies was a Grandmother; they are my Grandmothers. Their lives and stories were very different and yet the same in so many ways. On the left is my maternal Grandmother, Julia Ann (Gates) Middlebrooks Minter, and on the right, my paternal Grandmother, Fannie Mae (Lawrence) Taliaferro. One I knew, the other I did not. They both have a story to tell. I plan to share one or the other, or maybe both. Like a good granddaughter, I’m waiting for them to tell me what to do.

The 2nd edition of the Carnival of African American Genealogy is all about Grandmothers. Tell us about your grandmother, and the impact she had (or continues to have) on your family. Do you have a special memory of Grandma? Share it! Do you have a photo that you cherish? Show it! The spotlight is on grandmothers. Tell us her story, your way. Make your Grandma proud!

I am extremely honored and excited to be the host of this very special 2nd edition of the CoAAG.



CoAAG 2nd Edition ~ Grandma’s Hand: Grandmothers and Their Influence On The Family

Host: Oh, that’s me folks. Sandra Taliaferro of I Never Knew My Father

For the 2nd Edition of CoAAG: Grandma’s Hand, write a post about your memories of your grandmother and be sure to include a picture of Grandma if you have one!

Submissions deadline: Monday, 12 April 2010



There are two options:

By Submission Form. Use the quick and easy CoAAG submission form provided by Blog Carnival.
By Email. Send an email to me, Sandra Taliaferro, your 2nd Edition Host. Please remember to include your blog name, the post title, and permalink URL of your carnival submission. Make sure to put ‘Grandma’s Hand’ in your email subject line!

If you’re a first-timer to carnivals, or just need a quick “how to” checkout these two helpful resources:

Blog Carnival FAQs

How to Submit a Post to a Carnival


12 March 2010: We’re Having A Carnival… I Wonder If The Ancestors Will Celebrate?

We’re Having An Inventory and Appraisement… I Wonder If The Ancestors Will Celebrate?

DATE:  9 February 1856

LOCATION: Fulton County, GA

PLACE: Richard Taliaferro’s Farm

Inventory and appraisement of the Estate of Richard Taliaferro (of unsound mind)

Miles and son John

Valued at

Willis & Wife & child (Letta)………………………………………………………..1900.00

Miles & Son John……………………………………………………………………..1700.00

Nancy & Son Albert……………………………………………………………………1250.00

Hulda & Child…………………………………………………………………………..1000.00


Kipy & Peter……………………………………………………………………………….1000.00

Mingo Wife & two children………………………………………………………………..2100.00

Green & Mahaly…………………………………………………………………………….1550.00

Clinton & Molly……………………………………………………………………………….700.00

I Wonder If The Ancestors Will Celebrate?


154 years later…..

We’re Having A Carnival…I Wonder If The Ancestors Will Celebrate?

DATE: 19 March 2010

LOCATION: The Internet

PLACE:  The GeneaCommunity

This I my first Carnival. I am so excited. But, it’s not just any Carnival, it’s the very first Carnival of African American Genealogy. The theme for the Carnival is – Restore My Name – Slave Records and Genealogy Research.

I Wonder If The Ancestors Will Celebrate?

One aspect offered for discussion – What responsibilities are involved on the part of the researcher when locating names of slaves in a record? I submit there is a huge responsibility on every researcher to share slave names found in records encountered during their research. The major aspect of that responsibility is SHARING. The responsibility to share slave data falls on every researcher- descendants of slave owners, descendants of the enslaved, and yes, even those whose ancestors were not slave owners. It is a genea-community responsibility. If we step up to the plate and share this responsibility…

I Wonder If The Ancestors Will Celebrate?

Our spirits are high, and we’re encouraged by recent developments. Descendants of slave owners are sharing slave-related documents on a regular basis, posting and tweeting about slave info, and creating new daily themes focused on sharing slave-related documents. A new movement is spreading throughout the genea-community, and it’s contagious.  A Friend of Friends is resurrecting The Underground Railroad 21stcentury style with modern day genea-conductors. We are sharing and caring; communicating and exchanging; coming together with a common purpose. We switched from defense to offense; from blame and finger-pointing to understanding and acceptance.

I Wonder If The Ancestors Will Celebrate?

Up above my head, I hear music in the air…

I Wonder If The Ancestors Are Celebrating?