Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Lynching of Eugene Bell

War Veteran Lynched by Mississippi Farmers during Jim Crow ERA
The Lynching of Eugene Bell

My great uncle Eugene Bell was a war veteran and was  killed in 1945, he was my grandmother' younger brother. He was killed only because he was a black man in the Jim Crow south. My great uncle had return from the war honorable discharged by his country. He was killed by two white men whom he had worked for before going into the military. They were upset that my uncle had returned from the war and had not come back to work for them. He was ambushed and beaten and shot in the back on a lonely road in Mississippi. My uncles lynching is one of many from the Jim Crow south era.

The Murder of Emmitt Till shed light on the horrors of the Jim Crow south. His death sparked the Movement. The four little girls: Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertsion and Cynthia Welsley were not involved in the Movement; neither was Virgil Lamar Ware, a 13 year old boy who was killed the same day by the people involved in the bombing of the 16th  Baptist church. Although they were not involved in the movement, their deaths were a direct result of the horrors of the Jim Crow South .

On Thursday March 6, 2014 A representative of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project contacted me as the result of me posting for information on the Bell web site. They are reopening his case. As a child my mother had talked about this tragedy over the years and I was well aware of this killing.
Below you will find the laws and etiquette of Jim Crow

The Jim Crow Era and their laws

No Dogs, Negros, Mexicans Jim Crow was the name of the racial caste system which operated primarily, but not exclusively in southern and border states, between 1877 and the mid-1960s. Jim Crow was more than a series of rigid anti-black laws. It was a way of life. Under Jim Crow, African Americans were relegated to the
status of second class citizens. Jim Crow represented the legitimization of anti-black racism. Many Christian ministers and theologians taught that whites were the Chosen people, blacks were cursed to be servants, and God supported racial segregation. Craniologists, eugenicists, phrenologists, and Social Darwinists, at every educational level, buttressed the belief that blacks were innately intellectually and culturally inferior to whites. Pro-segregation politicians gave eloquent speeches on the great danger of integration: the mongrelization of the white race. Newspaper and magazine writers routinely referred to blacks as niggers, coons, and darkies; and worse, their articles reinforced anti-black stereotypes. Even children's games portrayed blacks as inferior beings (see "From Hostility to Reverence: 100 Years of African-American Imagery in Games"). All major societal institutions reflected and supported the oppression of blacks.
Seated in Rear The Jim Crow system was undergirded by the following beliefs or rationalizations: whites were superior to blacks in all important ways, including but not limited to intelligence, morality, and civilized behavior; sexual relations between blacks and whites would produce a mongrel race which would destroy America; treating blacks as equals would encourage interracial sexual unions; any activity which suggested social equality encouraged interracial sexual relations; if necessary, violence must be used to keep blacks at the bottom of the racial hierarchy. The following Jim Crow etiquette norms show how inclusive and pervasive these norms were:
  1. A black male could not offer his hand (to shake hands) with a white male because it implied being socially equal. Obviously, a black male could not offer his hand or any other part of his body to a white woman, because he risked being accused of rape.
  2. Blacks and whites were not supposed to eat together. If they did eat together, whites were to be served first, and some sort of partition was to be placed between them.
  3. Under no circumstance was a black male to offer to light the cigarette of a white female -- that gesture implied intimacy.
  4. Blacks were not allowed to show public affection toward one another in public, especially kissing, because it offended whites.
  5. Jim Crow etiquette prescribed that blacks were introduced to whites, never whites to blacks. For example: "Mr. Peters (the white person), this is Charlie (the black person), that I spoke to you about."
  6. Whites did not use courtesy titles of respect when referring to blacks, for example, Mr., Mrs., Miss., Sir, or Ma'am. Instead, blacks were called by their first names. Blacks had to use courtesy titles when referring to whites, and were not allowed to call them by their first names.
  7. If a black person rode in a car driven by a white person, the black person sat in the back seat, or the back of a truck.
  8. White motorists had the right-of-way at all intersections.
In Conclusion, Jim Crow laws are still alive today.
We have a black President who is shown no respect and in the job market, which clearly shows that Jim Crow is alive.

The presidency is a position that “holds a sense of authority and governance over us all,” and that “even if you’re not in support of his policies, there needs to be a certain level of respect.”

In the job market, six of the seven occupations with the highest salaries are overrepresented by whites, while conversely, three of the six lowest-paid occupations are disproportionately represented by people of color, says the report. Additionally, one in six Blacks and one in eight Latinos are jobless, compared to one in 12 whites.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Memories of November 22, 1963

Memories of November 22, 1963

It was November 22, 1963 and I was 6 days into my 9th birthday. It was a cold blistery November day in Winnsboro Louisiana and I had stayed home from school. It was just my mom and me. All my sisters and brothers had went to school. My mom was in the kitchen and I sat on the floor watching television. All of a sudden a special news report came on the TV; Walter Cronkite said the President had been shot in Dallas Texas;
This was the President who African American felt would help us to finally get the freedom we deserved. Although, Kennedy's presidency is more famed for the Cuban Missile Crisis and issues surrounding the Cold War.
The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was introduced in Eisenhower’s presidency and was the act that kick-started the civil rights legislative program; that was to include the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Eisenhower had not been known for his support of the civil rights movement. John Kennedy voted against this Act. However, during his presidential campaign and after he was nominated by the Democrats, Kennedy made it clear in his speeches that he was a supporter of civil rights.
As I sat on the floor watching the news report, I felt a sadness because I knew my parents and relatives would be sad if he died.
Kennedy did more than any president before him to have more African Americans appointed to federal government posts. The FBI only employed 48 African Americans out of a total of 13,649 and these 48 were nearly all chauffeurs. He appointed his brother Robert as Attorney General, which put him head of the Justice Department. Their tactic was to use the law courts as a way of enforcing already passed civil rights legislation.
John Kennedy died that day in November and I was truly a sad little girl. As I watched his funeral unfold on the Television with his 4 year son John Saluting his casket and Mrs Kennedy looking as though she had not slept for days. I was thinking in my 9 year old mind, his daddy died; Who will take care of them? Some years later John John as he was called met a untimely death on July 16, 1999.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Franklin Parish Louisiana

My immediate family begun it's American roots, by way of Lincoln County Mississippi, Franklin Parish Louisiana and finally Seattle Washington.
As a child I attended a one room Church and School in Franklin Parish Winnsboro Louisiana, called Cuba Baptist Church and Cuba Elementary school. The school is no longer in existence and the Church has since been rebuilt and is somewhat larger.
My memories of Cuba elementary school are of having to walk about two miles to get there, the black children had no buses. There were days when the bus transporting the White children would pull over and throw eggs and water on us. One Winter I got really sick from having water thrown on me and having to walk to school drenched. The bus driver was a White man and was someone in authority and he pulled over and allowed the children to do this. I often wondered, what kind of man was he to do this to innocent children? I later learned racism and hatred of an entire race of people was the reason.

I also remember cutting my right hand on the school play yard and being to shy to tell the teacher Mrs. Arthur and when she saw the blood, she lovingly took my hand and bandaged it. Mrs. Arthur was a kind and gentle soul as I remember, and then there was Mrs. Bass who was not and like to use the Leather Strap for punishment.
All in all that one room school and Church gave me foundation as to who I am today. It was built by the black community to served God and to provide education for black children. For me it was Family.

My mother and father were married in this church on May 2, 1948
Cuba Baptist Church, Winnsboro Louisiana.
Elder Adam Nichols a good friend of the family Officaited

Ed B Coleman and Ruby Cameron Marriage License

The Cuba Baptist Church sign

My great Aunt Ora Coleman Lee Born Jan 3, 1907 in Brookhaven MS
Died Feb. 12, 1993 Franklin Parish Winnsboro Louisiana

Thanks to my cousin Ivy Lee who is the grandson of Ora Coleman Lee for providing the pictures
taking during The Singleton Family Reunion in 2009

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Cameron’s of Franklin County Mississippi

The Cameron’s of Franklin County Mississippi was a very large  family and through  my research, and oral history, I have found that many of my great grandfather Alex Cameron (b. 1862)and his first wife Ada and second wife Laura children and descendants left Franklin county and did not keep in touch with one another.
To understand this you have to understand that Slavery completely disrupted the notion of the black family because family members could be sold away from one another at any time.The  disruptive force of slavery can still be seen today in the black family.

One of my great grandfather Alex Cameron son's was my grandfather Bryant Cameron and he had approximately 14 brothers and sisters whom moved away and never say each other again. I feel that the Cameron family of Franklin county Mississippi was a perfect example of how slavery continued to perpetuates it self through time. It is very sad that many of these brothers and sisters never saw each again before they died.
I feel that I have a calling to find my ancestors. To somehow wake them up and have them live again, to tell each of their unique and different stories through oral history, the pages of census records, birth certificates, war records, and finally death certificates.

Researching your family history is not just a cold gathering of facts; genealogy is a labor of love. A love of family and family beginnings, and family’s earthly accomplishments. I take pride in learning of my ancestor’s accomplishment, and pain from their losses and tragedies.

I have since located ancestors that still reside in Franklin county and Lincoln county Mississippi and I have located others in Louisiana,  Detroit, and Muskegon, Michigan, etc. and I have provided pictures below.
Henry and Ethel Jackson Cameron
Brother of my Grandfather Bryant Cameron
Henry's offsprings reside in Brookhaven MS, Detroit Muskegon MI.

Below is Rosie Lee Cameron Smith (b.1925 d. 2011) Daughter of Henry and Ethel Cameron

Josphine Cameron Lee Daughter of Isom (Isham) Cameron,
Isom was the brother of my grandfather Bryant . Josphine died
in Detroit Michigan

Below is the son of Josphine Cameron Lee, Willie D. Robinson whom died in February 2012
Willie resided in McCall Creek Mississippi

Above Sterling Cameron, son of my great grandfather Alec and his second wife Laura
and half-brother of my grandfather Bryant. He ran away from home at a very early age and moved to Indiana and changed his name to Robert Ford, he died in 1969 

My great aunt Noda Cameron Byrd gravestone, daughter of Alec and Laura Cameron
Wife of Warren Cherry Byrd

Great uncle Warren "Cherry" Byrd Husband of my great aunt Noda Cameron Byrd

Alonzo Cameron below whom still resides in Brookhaven MS is the grandson of Henry and Ethel Cameron, provided the pictures below and also the picture of Henry and Ethel. Thank you cosuin

Saturday, March 24, 2012

History of Black Women/Cameron Women and Hats

My mother Ruby Cameron-Coleman Loves her hats, she is on her way to Church
about 2006
Who knew that a Bible commandment could come in so many colors? When the Apostle Paul declared that women must cover their heads during worship (1 Corinthians 11:15), African American women took his decree, attached feathers and bows to it, and turned it into something beautiful.
My aunt Ruth Cameron Turner with her grandson Marcus
About 1990
For many African-American women, looking your best from head to toe is important when going to church, and the hat is one of the most crucial features. The act of covering your head during worship has its roots in scripture. Since, it has become a tradition for many women who want to show respect to God while adding some pizzaz to their presence.
My aunt Ruth Cameron-Turner on the right greeting then senator Barack Obama
in 2008 when he gave a speech to her church congregation
It is imperative for many African-American women to look their grandest when going before God. Today, it is most often the older women who dress elaborately on Sunday mornings.

My mother without the Hat and her youngest sister
Annie Bell Cameron-Washington at funeral service
for their sister Ruth Cameron-Turner
For many of these women and their ancestors, dressing up for church was one of the few opportunities they had to remove domestic aprons and house dresses. These drab garments were replaced by bright colors, fancy shoes and elaborate hats that would stand out in a crowd. Style and sophistication would rule the day.

My mother and her sister Ruth Cameron-Turner in 1999

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Coleman’s Christmas Story

Coleman Women
Sister Ruby, Ruthie Lynn, Mom and Me Lela

I was born in Winnsboro Louisiana in 1954; my parent Ed Coleman and Ruby Cameron Coleman had ten children.  
My father was a Sharecropper. Webster’s defines sharecropping as “A tenant farmer who is provided with credit for seed, tools, living quarters, and food, who works the land, and who receives an agreed share of the value of the crop minus charges”. My father worked in the fields from dawn to dust, with my older siblings helping him after school and during school break. The plantation owner would never pay him correctly for all his hard work and he knew if he made waves he would run the risk of not getting paid at all.
We were very poor, so poor that during the Holiday Season my parents could not afford to buy gifts for ten children. Living on a farm had its advantages; my mother had a big garden and grew all the greens, sweet potatoes, onions, etc. We also had chickens and hogs.
The night before Christmas my mother and all the children would read the Bible Christmas story in Luke the 2nd chapter of how Jesus was born.
On Christmas Day our gifts were Apples, Oranges, Nuts and Peppermint Candy, we all look forward to these tasty delights each year. Christmas afternoon we enjoyed a wonderful dinner prepared by my mother.
Although I did not receive gifts, I always felt loved which is the greatest gift of all.
The true meaning of Christmas is love. John 3:16-17 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." The true meaning of Christmas is the celebration of this incredible act of love.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Barriers to African American Family Research

Learning about your family origins is a wonderful journey. But, for black families with Southern States slave ancestry, there are many stumbling blocks that enter into genealogy research. African American genealogy research for Southern families goes well back to 1870. But, earlier than 1870, the research becomes really hard for most amateur researchers. This can be very frustrating and  places barriers on learning who our true relatives are.
Thanks to technology and oral history researching has become much easier.

Edgar Washington
B. 1892 Franklin County Mississippi

As a child in Winnsboro Louisiana I had heard of Edgar Washington, he and his wife Myrtis O'Steen Washington lived next door to my mother's sister Annie Bell Cameron Washington, who was married to Edgar and Myrtis's youngest son Louis Washington. I always thought of Edgar and Myrtis as in-laws and of no real relation.
Researching family history beginning in the 90's has allowed me to learn many things about my family and family I did not know I had. I have learned that Edgar is the brother of my Grandfather Henry Coleman Mother Florence Washington Coleman. Edgar is my great grand uncle.

Myrtis O'Steen Washington
B. 1892 Franklin County Mississippi
D. 1977 Winnsboro Louisiana

Myrtis O'Steen Washington and Edgar's wife is the daughter of Rosa Stewart O'Steen born about 1874, Rosa is my 2nd great grand aunt.. Rosa is the sister of Augusta Stewart Coleman who is my 2nd great grandmother.