Daughter of Tony and Bettie McDaniel Neal
Photograph courtesy of Tony Neal, Sr
Episode five of PBS' Many Rivers to Cross examined the struggles of African Americans to receive their full rights as United States citizens. James Brown's song, Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud, and the afro hair style were symbols of the Civil Rights Movement. The song and the hair style were affirmation of self-love, self-respect and self-determination. The afro was seen as a political symbol that reflected black pride, wearing our hair in its natural state. The song was recorded in 1968 in response to the movement.
Say It Loud - I'm Black And I'm Proud
Uh, with your bad self
Say it louder (I got a mouth)
Say it louder (I got a mouth)
Look a'here, some people say we got a lot of malice
Some say it's a lotta nerve
I say we won't quit moving
Til we get what we deserve
We've been buked and we've been scourned
We've been treated bad, talked about
As just as sure as you're born
But just as sure as it take
Two eyes to make a pair, huh
Brother, we can't quit until we get our share
Say it loud,
I'm black and I'm proud
Say it loud,
I'm black and I'm proud, one more time
Say it loud,
I'm black and I'm proud, huh
I've worked on jobs with my feet and my hands
But all the work I did was for the other man
And now we demands a chance
To do things for ourselves
we tired of beating our heads against the wall
And working for someone else
Say it loud,
I'm black and I'm proud
Say it loud,
I'm black and I'm proud
Say it loud,
I'm black and I'm proud
Say it loud,
I'm black and I'm proud, oowee
The sisters are the daughters of David and Sadie Harvard McDaniel
Two were born in Natchez, MS, and the third in Illinois, during the 1940s.
They live in Colorado and Illinois.
Photographs courtesy of Tony Neal, Sr.
I was a second grade student at Westside School in Jackson, MS, seven years old, just a few days shy of my eight birthday. My teacher was Mrs Anthony, a stern, strict teacher. It was a cloudy day, cool enough for a jacket.
It begun as a typical school day. Lillie Ann was late for school which was the norm. We had eaten lunch, busy at our desks. I remember one of the teachers quickly coming in whispering something to Mrs Anthony. Another teacher entering the room during class time was unusual. Nothing was said and we continued with our work. Minutes later, the teacher returned and beckon Mrs Anthony to come outside the classroom into the hall. Mrs Anthony returned to her desk, head down, and both hands over her mouth and the lower part of her face.
We knew something was wrong but couldn't imagine what. Mrs Anthony told us what had happened and some of us cried, I cried because Mrs Anthony was crying. We were sent home early. I was eager to get home to tell my mother who met me at the door and told me to be quite. The family had decided to delay telling my grandmother of the President's death until my Aunt Rosie was ready to tell her.
We couldn't turn on the TV, fearful my grandmother might hear the news, so we listen quietly to a small radio on our side of the duplex. I think my grandmother was told late Saturday night or Sunday morning because I remember watching TV the day before I returned to school.
Teachers brought TVs to school and we watched the funeral that Monday. I can still remember the sounds of the horses hoofs against the pavement, and the marching soldiers, the cannons. I can see Mrs Kennedy face draped in the black veil, Caroline and John dressed in light blue with their red shoes, the coffin draped in the flag.
Sadness everywhere. The pain of that day is still with me. Watching snippets of film brings the sadness back.
I came of age during the early 70s in which almost every home I was familiar with had a picture on the wall of MLK, JFK, along with Jesus. For the African American community, they were our hope.
Jim Crow laws were established to force segregation. Business owners and public places were ordered to keep groups separated and most states had laws preventing interracial marriage. Jim Crow was said to be a black character in minstrel shows.
At the height of the Miss Black America contests, I was asked by one of my white high school classmates why black folks separated themselves from the main stream. Why did we need our own beauty contests, newspapers, magazines, TV shows, etc.? I told her we were not included and had to make our own. In other words, making a way out of no way. I asked her to bring a magazine from home and show me how many pictures were in the magazine of people who looked like me. I should have told her to point out stories about black folks. She never brought the magazine and we never spoke about the subject again. This was in the early 1970s.
JIM CROW LAWS
Barbers: No colored barber shall serve as a barber [to] white women or girls. Georgia
The Blind: The board of trustees shall...maintain a separate building...on separate ground for the admission, care, instruction, and support of all blind persons of the colored or black race. Louisiana
Burial: The officer in charge shall not bury, or allow to be buried, any colored persons upon ground set apart or used for the burial of white persons. Georgia
Buses: All passenger stations in this state operated by any motor transportation company shall have separate waiting rooms or space and separate ticket windows for the white and colored races. Alabama
Child Custody: It shall be unlawful for any parent, relative, or other white person in this State, having the control or custody of any white child, by right of guardianship, natural or acquired, or otherwise, to dispose of, give or surrender such white child permanently into the custody, control, maintenance, or support, of a negro. South Carolina
Circus Tickets: All circuses, shows, and tent exhibitions, to which the attendance of...more than one race is invited or expected to attend shall provide for the convenience of its patrons not less than two ticket offices with individual ticket sellers, and not less than two entrances to the said performance, with individual ticket takers and receivers, and in the case of outside or tent performances, the said ticket offices shall not be less than twenty-five (25) feet apart. Louisiana
Cohabitation: Any negro man and white woman, or any white man and negro woman, who are not married to each other, who shall habitually live in and occupy in the nighttime the same room shall each be punished by imprisonment not exceeding twelve (12) months, or by fine not exceeding five hundred ($500.00) dollars. Florida
Education: Separate schools shall be maintained for the children of the white and colored races. Mississippi
Fishing, Boating, and Bathing: The [Conservation] Commission shall have the right to make segregation of the white and colored races as to the exercise of rights of fishing, boating and bathing. Oklahoma
Hospital Entrances: There shall be maintained by the governing authorities of every hospital maintained by the state for treatment of white and colored patients separate entrances for white and colored patients and visitors, and such entrances shall be used by the race only for which they are prepared. Mississippi
Housing: Any person...who shall rent any part of any such building to a negro person or a negro family when such building is already in whole or in part in occupancy by a white person or white family, or vice versa when the building is in occupancy by a negro person or negro family, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not less than twenty-five ($25.00) nor more than one hundred ($100.00) dollars or be imprisoned not less than 10, or more than 60 days, or both such fine and imprisonment in the discretion of the court. Louisiana
Intermarriage: The marriage of a white person with a negro or mulatto or person who shall have one-eighth or more of negro blood, shall be unlawful and void. Mississippi
Juvenile Delinquents: There shall be separate buildings, not nearer than one fourth mile to each other, one for white boys and one for negro boys. White boys and negro boys shall not, in any manner, be associated together or worked together. Florida
Libraries: The state librarian is directed to fit up and maintain a separate place for the use of the colored people who may come to the library for the purpose of reading books or periodicals. North Carolina
Lunch Counters: No persons, firms, or corporations, who or which furnish meals to passengers at station restaurants or station eating houses, in times limited by common carriers of said passengers, shall furnish said meals to white and colored passengers in the same room, or at the same table, or at the same counter. South Carolina
Mental Hospitals: The Board of Control shall see that proper and distinct apartments are arranged for said patients, so that in no case shall Negroes and white persons be together. Georgia
Militia: The white and colored militia shall be separately enrolled, and shall never be compelled to serve in the same organization.No organization of colored troops shall be permitted where white troops are available, and while white permitted to be organized, colored troops shall be under the command of white officers. North Carolina
Mining: The baths and lockers for the negroes shall be separate from the white race, but may be in the same building. Oklahoma
Nurses: No person or corporation shall require any white female nurse to nurse in wards or rooms in hospitals, either public or private, in which negro men are placed. Alabama
Pool and Billiard Rooms: It shall be unlawful for a negro and white person to play together or in company with each other at any game of pool or billiards. Alabama
Parks: It shall be unlawful for colored people to frequent any park owned or maintained by the city for the benefit, use and enjoyment of white persons...and unlawful for any white person to frequent any park owned or maintained by the city for the use and benefit of colored persons. Georgia
Prisons: The warden shall see that the white convicts shall have separate apartments for both eating and sleeping from the negro convicts. Mississippi
Railroads: The conductor of each passenger train is authorized and required to assign each passenger to the car or the division of the car, when it is divided by a partition, designated for the race to which such passenger belongs. Alabama
Reform Schools: The children of white and colored races committed to the houses of reform shall be kept entirely separate from each other. Kentucky
Restaurants: It shall be unlawful to conduct a restaurant or other place for the serving of food in the city, at which white and colored people are served in the same room, unless such white and colored persons are effectually separated by a solid partition extending from the floor upward to a distance of seven feet or higher, and unless a separate entrance from the street is provided for each compartment. Alabama
Teaching: Any instructor who shall teach in any school, college or institution where members of the white and colored race are received and enrolled as pupils for instruction shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be fined in any sum not less than ten dollars ($10.00) nor more than fifty dollars ($50.00) for each offense. Oklahoma
Theaters: Every person...operating...any public hall, theater, opera house, motion picture show or any place of public entertainment or public assemblage which is attended by both white and colored persons, shall separate the white race and the colored race and shall set apart and designate...certain seats therein to be occupied by white persons and a portion thereof , or certain seats therein, to be occupied by colored persons. Virginia
Telephone Booths: The Corporation Commission is hereby vested with power and authority to require telephone companies...to maintain separate booths for white and colored patrons when there is a demand for such separate booths. That the Corporation Commission shall determine the necessity for said separate booths only upon complaint of the people in the town and vicinity to be served after due hearing as now provided by law in other complaints filed with the Corporation Commission. Oklahoma
Textbooks: Books shall not be interchangeable between the white and colored schools, but shall continue to be used by the race first using them. North Carolina
Toilet Facilities, Male: Every employer of white or negro males shall provide for such white or negro males reasonably accessible and separate toilet facilities. Alabama
Wine and Beer: All persons licensed to conduct the business of selling beer or wine...shall serve either white people exclusively or colored people exclusively and shall not sell to the two races within the same room at any time. Georgia
Source: Examples of Jim Crow Laws
Images courtesy of Wikipedia.
My Uncle Mike Durr, Jr., made me an accomplice preparing him for Sunday School. Uncle Junior never learned to read. He had a great memory for dates and family history. He could add, subtract, divide, and multiply in his head but he just couldn't get that reading thing together even with extra help from dedicated teachers. He didn't hide his illiteracy but used it as a crutch. According to his wisdom, he never married because he could not read.
I lived in the same house with Uncle Junior as a young child and he recognized my love for reading, so, he decided I would "teach" him to read his Sunday School lessons. Before the third grade, I was his teacher and would continue to work with him until I was in high school. Those Hittites, Mobites, Zacchaeus, Zephaniah, etc., would tie a knot in a young reader's tongue. I would read the lesson with my mother before I "taught" Uncle Junior.
He wanted to participate in his Sunday School Class by reading one of the verses from the lesson. We would go through the lesson and he would decide which verse he would read in class. We worked on that verse at least once during the week and again on Saturday night.
On Sunday mornings with bibles and Sunday School books in hand, off to church we went. It was a small church where all classes were in one room. Occasionally, I could hear Uncle Junior telling the teacher which verse he wanted to read and hear him when he read his verse. He would stumble at the same words he stumble with at home, forget the words I thought he knew. His teachers ignored his stumbles and would continue to call on him to read Sunday after Sunday. On many Sundays my student was a star, he would recite his verse near perfect.
The memories of my uncle's struggles and triumphs with his Sunday School lessons will stay with me forever.
This blog post was re-posted from September 12, 2010 for Carnival of African American 5th Edition ~ REBIRTH: It's Time For Revival! Blog about a special memory or Ancestor story related to a spiritual experience of rebirth, reawakening and/or celebration! Hosted by Luckie Daniels of Our Georgia Roots.
When I was a child, my family attended Forest Hill Church of God in Christ in Jackson, Mississippi.
Shelby Thomas' sister Ida May Thomas married my cousin James Monroe Markham
Shelby Thomas' sister Rosanna Thomas married my granduncle Samuel David Markham.
Picture courtesy of Tony Neal, Sr.
I thought of this letter while watching the PBS series, African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, Part 3 - Into the Fire - 1861-1896. Peggy does not connect to my family but found her letter to be very touching. My great grandfather Washington Marshall, who was a slave in Copiah County, MS, spoke of the siblings he left in Virginia. I can easily imagine him writing Peggy's letter
The letter was written by Reverend J. H. Nichols, Starkville, MS, on behalf of Peggie, to William Peacock, Shelbyville, TN. William Peacock was Kelly's former owner who had sold her away from her family many years before. Kelly was inquiring of Peacock if he knew the whereabouts of any surviving family members whom she had not seen since being sold.
The letter represents a woman's determination to locate before she died surviving members of her family from whom she had long been separated. It provides poignant evidence of the tragic and lingering consequences of slavery on the individual.
January 31, 1892
Mr. William Peacock
Dear Sirs or Friends
I am trying to find my mother and father. My father's name was named Prince and my mother's name was Rose. They both belong to above Peacock. They had four children when I was sold. Their names Peggie, Isaac, John, and George and I had two half sisters belonging to old Thomas Peacock.
I was sold to James Wortham in KY where I lived 3 years then he sold me to Jack Tucker and then was sold to Evan Davis in this state.
Any information given if any or the where abouts of them will be thankfully received. Let me know if they are dead or alive.
My name was Peggie one of the children of Prince and Rose.
Peggie Kelly, now
Pastor of Union Church Presbyterian Church
Union Church, Jefferson County, MS
Rev McCallum's family owned my McCallum cousins' ancestors.
On June 18, 1942, she and her twin brother Billy Joe were the fourth and fifth children born and the second set of twins born to the union of Willie Mel McDaniel and Leveltus Ford McDaniel in Natchez, Mississippi. She attended Sadie V Thompson High School and graduated with the class of 1962. Barbara was crowned junior queen in the 8th grade and in her senior year, she was crowned Miss Sadie V. Thompson. After graduation, she relocated to California where she continued her education at Los Angeles Trade Technical College.
In 1966, she was employed by the State of California where she served as an employment officer and later transferred to the Department of Social Services as an analyst, licensing community care facilities, recruiting and training foster parents in the Los Angeles County and retired after 35 years of service.
Barbara was an active and loyal member of Revival Time Church of God in Christ and served under Pastor Charles Bennett, Sr., and First Lady Vivian A. Bennett until her illness. She loved serving the Lord and the church was her home. During her later years, she fellowshipped with God's Divine Center of Holiness Deliverance Church under the care and leadership of Pastor Irene Robinson. Because of her love and faithfulness, she was blessed to have two ministries who cared.
Throughout her life she gave, she laughed and she meet no strangers; everyone was influenced by her welcoming and outspoken personality. Her home was a local hotel to her friends, and friends of friends, her family and their friends, no reservations were needed, just a knock on the door or a phone call to let her know you were on your way. You were guaranteed a bit to eat.
Her heart belonged to her lovely daughters Terri LaJon Ferga Barber and Dr. Dione Kramer Milan Washington.
Barbara was proceeded in death by her parents, Willie Mel McDaniel and Leveltus McDaniel Carter, her twin brother Billy Joe, both paternal and maternal grandparents and two brothers Clifford McDaniel and Henry Mel McDaniel.
Evangelist Barbara will be affectionately remembered by many friends, neighbors, relatives and missed by all.