Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sobering Artifacts Remind Us Why We Research the Past

Once upon a time in America, there was a man, but he was enslaved.

He had a name, but those who had enslaved him did not recognize him as having a name, at least one that mattered. Nor whatever the name that the man called himself, it would not matter to others in the community where he lived. It would not be seen as essential.

Officially this man was identified---by a tag. He, was an object with a number:  NIGG 24. His status as a man, was honored by none, because this man was enslaved. And the record of this man is forever inscribed upon a slave tag. The tag had a key attached, but the key was merely used to unlock another object---a heavy ball that would keep NIGG 24 in his place. The tag contained some information, including his occupation--SLAVE. The key would unlock the 30 pound ball and chain that would have been attached to his leg and only when the ball was detached, could he walk freely.

So went part of the day, when attending the Central MD chapter of AAHGS, when members got a chance to see these items, hold them, and reflect. Some rare artifacts had been recently acquired by the District of Columbia Archives, and one of the members brought these particular items to share with the group at the meeting.

For many of us---for most of us, and also for me, this was the first time I was standing so close to a slave artifact and the first time that I got to hold such an object.

This was an artifact that spoke to a not too distant past of my ancestors, and I was humbled, and saddened. I thought of those whose lives were truly attached to such an object--which by its structure and weight reflected the pure restraint that one human being put upon another.

The slave tag was at one time attached to the body of someone enslaved by Col. T.W. Kiser of Concord North Carolina.

Close View of Slave Tag with Key
Image Courtesy of Melvin J. Collier

The image is one that deserves examination-and with this slave tag, there are many questions that arise. On the upper right hand of the slave tag, a small masonic emblem appears.

Masonic Emblem faintly stamped into slave tag.

On each side of the word SLAVE, appear the 3 circles often affiliated with the Odd Fellows are stamped.

Odd Fellow symbols also appear on this slave tag on each side of the word "SLAVE"

The large number 1850 is engraved onto the tag, but it is not certain what it represents. Does it represent a number assigned to the enslaved person? 

Or could this have been a tag assigned to a slave for use at a slave auction?

Who was Col. T. W. Kiser?

A brief look at census records of 1860 and 1850 do not reflect any T.W. Kiser. The surname Kiser and Kizer are both surnames found in Cabbarus county in North Carolina, which is where Concord is located. 

The bottom of the tag also reveals some interesting markings including a large "X" in the lower left a large "A" on the right and an oddly placed cross in the middle. Were these added at a later time than the time when the tag was initially created? A smaller "xx" can also be seen to the left of the 1850. Their meanings are not certain. Also faintly, the word "Roman" can also see engraved. Again, none of these meanings are clearly understood.

When the artifacts were being passed around, one could not help but note the remarks that there were signs that someone was possibly Christian, on the tag, but this was an artifact that reflected the bondage of another human being! A person--no name, merely numbers.

The weight of the ball was also extremely heavy--and it was clear that escape from any slave holder's hands would not have been easily accomplished. 

The chance to hold and touch these items left a sobering note for most of us.

The tone of the meeting was lifted as we were able to witness an outstanding presentation by researcher and scholar Melvin J. Collier, who revealed strategies on how to find the unknown, research enslaved ancestors and put a face an name on the unknown ancestors.

May we never forget the lessons of the past, and may we continue our search to know more.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Remembering Spring Flowers Prompt #4 My Favorite Season

Spring is my favorite season. 

First of all, it means that weeks of being cold, and shivering and discomfort begin to melt away, and my senses are all soothed. My sense of touch is stroked by gentler breezes. The scent of sound is enhanced when I hear the early robins of spring announce the coming of warmer days. And I was always anxious to put my nose in early blooms once the smell of honeysuckle tickled my nose and like many children, I would pull out the middle part to taste the nectar of those tiny delicate blooms. But it was was eyes---they were always dazzled by the display of color. These sights of spring brought me the most, since in childhood. 

Whether I was playing in my grandmother's garden, or preparing for a May crowing event at my local parish, the flowers always captivated my attention. There was something almost magical about the touch, the smell and the sight of flowers. At my small Catholic church parish, when we had our annual May Crowing ceremonies, flowers let us all know that something was truly going on. 

May Crowning Ceremony, St. John the Baptist School, Ft. Smith, Arkansas

 I recall Bachelor Buttons that lined the fence around Grandma's house, and when I would run outside, I was always pulled to the fence and was so intrigued by the colors and delicate petals that would draw me towards them.

I loved colors, and as I think of the changing seasons, I admit to enjoying the colors of fall, yet as brilliant as the vibrant colors are in the fall, nothing brings me more joy than seeing two of my favorite flowers emerge every year. Irises and Jonquils!!  Ahh.....Spring!

The sheer beauty of the Iris truly makes me stop! An when I see the multicolored ones, especially any that contain variations of purple, I can only stop in the tracks and be taken by the mere beauty of it all. This is nothing that human hands can create, and when I see the elegant soft velvety petals of a the purple Iris it truly takes my breath away!
Oh soft, subtle velvet iris, so elegantly you come.
Like an elegant dancer your fling your skirt
letting it ripple in the breeze, and your gentle top
flirts with the wind and tells the world 
that you are simply beautiful!

The one flower though that always made me smile was the Jonquil. They bloomed in my yard and when they appeared, I knew that sweaters could be shed and I would soon feel warmth on my skin when I played. Jonquils are slightly different from other daffodils, as their stems are rounded and not flat, and I knew that when I saw them, so pretty, and so vibrantly yellow, once again, my time of childhood joy had come.

Easter varied from year to year on the calendar, and my memory of Easter was that I was often quite chilly. My father would insist that we take our pictures on Easter and I always remember standing in the yard shivering to take the Easter picture. Usually Easter always came before the Jonquils, and I was not yet warm.

Easter Morning, in the 1950s.

But somehow, when the jonquils came, the chill gave into spring, and my childhood continued with joy.

A post script---one of my favorite songs is by jazz artist, Betty Carter, who sings a beautiful ballad called "Spring Can Really Hang You Up, The Most".

* * * * *

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Clark County Arkansas Co-Habitation & First Black Marriage Records Found 1865-1866

Register of Marriages from Arkadelphia Field Office 
of Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen & Abandoned Lands

Recently, I was excited to find eight pages of the first African American marriages of Clark County Arkansas. And among those records, were several co-habitation records as well. Co-habitation records allowed formerly enslaved couples to have their marriages registered even if they had been together as husband and wife during the years that preceded their freedom from bondage. In some cases they were married with permission, and in other cases not. And sadly in some cases as was throughout the south, some marriages were never recognized, and a spouse was simply sold away, when it suited the whim of the slave holder.

In Clark County Arkansas, dozens of families finally had their marriages recognized and these newly freed people wasted little time in rushing to the Freedman's Bureau Field office where a record was made of their marriages. However, during that very first year of Freedom, 1865, several newly freed men and women wished to have their marriages recognized, thought they had already been married.
These were the co-habitation records.

With such records, one will find data beyond a mere listing of bride and groom, for these records contain data about their lives before freedom. It is interesting to study the heading of the co-habitation records. Like most records, name of bride and groom were recorded, and place of residence.

Names and Residence were Captured on Co-habitation Records

Of males, physical description, previous relationships, separation and children from previous relationships were recorded.
Data collected from males

Similar data was collected from women as they had their marriages recorded.
Data collected from females

If the parties had been living apart and children were being brought officially into this new household, that data was also captured. In addition an official ceremony was held, and the name of the officiating minister was also recorded.

 If there was a separation due to death, unfaithfulness or the saddest reason--being sold away due to the inhumanity of slavery, this information was also captured on these pages.

Separated by Being Sold

Exploring The Records
The number of pages was small, but because the legibility and clarity of the images was high they are reproduced here. Note that all records were found in Record Group 105.

Partial view of 1st page of Arkadelphia, Arkansas Co-habitation Records

Partial View of Arkadelphia Arkansas Co-habitation Records

By 1866, older couples had already registered their marriages and from that time forward, young African American couples that had wanted to marry were now free to do so, with no consent of a slave holder required any longer, and they too rushed to the Bureau to have their marriages recorded. These are their marriages.

Marriages are among the many critical vital records that we all seek. It was good to find these records because these marriages precede the records recorded on the local level and they will not be found in any Arkansas repository. 

All of these marriage and co-habitation records were recorded by the Freedman's Bureau and because the Bureau operated under direction of the US Army they are Federal records, and found in no state or county courthouse. Therefore finding these records may someday open news doors for Arkansas researchers of African American family history.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The African American 1865 Census of Huntsville and Athens Alabama

A Census & Bounty Registry of Huntsville and Athens Alabama

Many African American researchers are hoping that there will another record that will provide a glimpse of ancestors once enslaved. Most African Americans find their ancestors in the 1870 census listed as free people at long last, and with their full names. For too many researchers, the work reaches a brick wall, simply because nothing more is known. Who was the last slave holder, and where else can one look to find their names? Occasionally that rare document arises, and it should be shared.

Some time ago,in the AfriGeneas daily lunchtime chat, Selma Stewart mentioned a special census record that she had come across. The group discussion was focused on Alabama and Tennessee and how many of the African American families in north Alabama have ties to other families from Giles County Tennessee.

Ms. Stewart who happens to be president of the Hampton Roads AAHGS  joined the conversation. She mentioned the 1865 Negro Census of two northern Alabama Communities. This was incredible--an 1865 census! This was the very year that thousands of families were finally freed-officially freed! And here was a census conducted at that very time!

I decided to explore this record to see what kind of data was collected. What a surprise  Not only were the names of the former slaves listed, but the names of the last known slave holder was captured on the record as well!!! This kind of information is so essential and most often missing! With this one piece of data-the last slave holder, more data on the family can be found!

Top of the 1865 Negro Census of Huntsville & Athens Alabama
Source: Volume: RG 105, Alabama Reel 19 - Records of the field offices for the state of Alabama, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1872 - Huntsville and Athens (Claims Agent) Census of Black Citizens and Register of Bounty Claims Received and Forwarded Volume (79 ½) 1865 and June-July 1868 

When examining the record it was fascinating to see the variety of occupations of the population. Some were basic laborers but others were skilled workers from blacksmiths to seamstresses, moulderers and other interesting occupations.  The record provides an interesting glimpse into life right after the Civil war.

Close up view of the occupations column  in the 1865 Colored Census of Huntsville & Athens AL

The resource for records such as these all come from National Archives Record Group 105, in which one will find the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, also known as the Freedman's Bureau. 

The years immediately after the war brought such dramatic change, movement, and sometimes chaos in the lives of newly freed people. It is understood that these records vary from state to state, however, one should look at such records even if there are not family ties to that state. In some cases, the records reflect the lives of persons before they relocated to another community. In other state records, such as this one, a rare post slavery era census and a pre-1870 census view is found that reflects critical history of formerly enslaved people. Therefore, a record such as the 1865 Colored Census provides essential data for Alabama and Tennessee researchers.

Special thanks to Selma Stewart for sharing this valuable data.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mr. Fortune is Laid To Rest

Source: WTNH Video from Connecticut

After 200 years, the remains of a man who was enslaved in Connecticut were finally laid to rest. This event happened last week in Waterbury Connecticut and his long deserved burial has at last occurred.

His name was Fortune, but for many years they simply called him Larry - Larry the Skeleton
This name was given to him during the decades that his skeleton was on display at a museum in Waterbury Connecticut.

When he died in the 1700s, it was not uncommon that the bodies of the poor, became used for "scientific" study. In his case, the case of a man whose family had no say of his fate even in death, his remains were not buried, but were boiled to remove the tissue so that his skeleton could be used for study, for over 100 years.

The skeletal remains stayed in the family of doctors that had possessed them for generations. Finally in the 20th century Mr. Fortune's bones were given to a museum, where they were then put on display, as "Larry" the skeleton. He "entertained" visitors to the museum, for several more decades when they were finally removed in the 1970s.

It took another four decades for human dignity and honor to finally be restored to this man, and for him to be properly laid to rest. It is not known if there are any descendants of Mr. Fortune, or if any were present at the ceremony last week in Connecticut. But at last, his humanity was acknowledged and he can now finally rest in peace.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Book of Me Prompt #3 Describing Myself

Photo of a much younger me. (And thinner, too.)

Describing myself----not fun to do---who likes to think of their physical attributes?

But here are a few extra details:

Height:  5'0"
Weight: I'm not telling.
Complexion: Brown
Hair: Wavy-Curly
Unique features: A dimpled chin.

Observations---Being short has always been my identifier. But I have to admit---I never minded being the shortest one in school or work. It places you in the front of group photos, but more importantly---in school, I was always at the front of the line, whether for lunch or some other special treat! And in my more thinner days, being short enhanced my petite status.

Favorite Features---
Smile I am told I have a nice smile, and I never needed braces and have never had tooth problems.
A Dimpled Chin: In addition, having a dimpled chin always made me stand out when I was a child. I tend to forget that I have a dimple in my chin these days until someone actually points it out to me. It was a big deal whenever I took school pictures.
Hands: I have to admit that I like my hands---I used the play the piano--for 10 years in fact and always enjoyed looking at them as they moved along the keyboard.  I like writing--the old fashioned way with a fountain pen. And I love to use my hands to cook, to quilt, and to decorate.

All that being said---my hope however, is that my physical features are secondary.

My preferred features are my personality and personal traits, which I hope make others feel comfortable, feel good, and feel loved. My personal mantra at all times--do no harm to others.

* * * * *

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Rufus Adolphus Givens, Black Watchmaker of Muskogee

R. A. Givens, Jeweler and Watchmaker, Muskogee, Indian Territory
Source: The Muskogee Cimeter, 1905

I am continually amazed at the remarkable gems that one finds in old newspapers! One such gem literally jumped off the page from the Muskogee Cimeter.

An interesting ad in the commercial section of the newspaper reflected the works of a man who had his own small and successful business in Muskogee. R. A. Givens was a watchmaker who ran his business off of Elgin Street for several years in Muskogee.  I saw an ad and a photo of the watchmaker himself in his shop.

I could not help but be curious. Black watchmakers are not common, and this man worked on what was part of the western frontier.

So who was this businessman who had a unique career?
When did he start his business?
Where was he from?

A search for R.A.Givens was a bit challenging at first. No matter how the name was put into a search on Ancestry, no such name arose. Perhaps a military record for an R.A. Givens would appear. Again, no such luck.  I realized that most likely, I needed to know a first name. Simply typing in the last name of Givens, and Muskogee Oklahoma, did not for some reason prove useful. But, on a whim, I decided to see if someone possibly related to this man, may have started a family tree on Ancestry. Bingo! I saw a name---Rufus A. Givens, appeared and the man lived in Muskogee Oklahoma. I now had a name to go with the ads that I had found. Rufus Givens. According to one of the family trees (I found more than one) Rufus A. Givens was born in Arkansas, but died in Oklahoma. Having a first name, I went back to Ancestry and sure enough, I found Rufus A. Givens living in Oklahoma with his wife Matilda and children.

Sure enough, in the 1910 Federal Census in Muskogee Oklahoma, there was Rufus with his 4 children at the time. His son Rufus Jr. was born the year before, in 1909.

1910 Federal Census, Muskogee County, Muskogee Oklahoma

Rufus was born in Arkansas, and his wife Matilda was born in Kentucky. His occupation was listed as a Jeweler, and it said that he "own's shop."

I became curious. Was there any article about him, or were there any details about Rufus the jeweler that I could find? I searched multiple ways on various sites, but no articles appeared about Rufus Givens.

So, I decided to study what I had, and I began to examine the small ads that appeared in the local black newspapers, and I learned a bit more about Rufus Givens.

Givens had set up his business in downtown Muskogee about 1904. In September of that year, he placed an advertisement that appeared on the front page of the Muskogee Cimeter. He was announcing the opening of his new jewelry shop directly across the street of the courthouse.

Source:  Muskogee Cimeter, September 1904 Page 1

As his business grew, Givens was a regular advertiser in the local paper. In 1905, he ran an ad that provided a small amount of history about his jewelry business. In that ad, he pointed out that he had been in the jewelry and watchmaking business for 15 years, and that he had the recommendations of many persons of respect in the community.

Source: Muskogee Cimeter, August 3,  1905 Page 4

Over the years, the business of Rufus Givens thrived and the business continued. The family business had grown and Rufus and wife Mathilda had also expanded, and opened up a hotel in the same area of downtown Muskogee. By 1917 the Givens had begun putting ads in the Tulsa Star, a black newspaper in the larger city of Tulsa. The hotel was known as Hotel Givens, and their ads addressed the promised comfort and safety for all visitors to Muskogee. Mrs. Givens was noted in the ad as also having a part in the family business. And as one can tell, the jewelers business still thrived.

Tulsa Star Ad for Hotel Givens, 1917

During the time of the World War I Draft, Rufus Givens registered, as required by law.  His Draft card reflects his status as a business man. And Rufus Givens was a literate man, who clearly signed his full name--Rufus Adolphus Givens.

World War I Draft Card of Rufus Givens
Registration State: Oklahoma; Registration County: Muskogee; Roll: 1851890; Draft Board: 2
(Image Obtained from Search on Ancestry.)

In 1920, the Givens family business continued. The Givens business still included the jewelers shop, but it had also expanded to include small loans that were available to patrons. In addition, there was an opportunity also to obtain real estate through the Givens business as well.

July 17, 1920 Tulsa Star p. 6

I wondered if there are any places where Rufus Givens once worked might still be around. I decided to use Google Street View to see what I could learn. One of his addresses was 228 North Second Street, in Muskogee.  Typing in that address in a Google Search pointed to the site. And thanks to Google's technology, getting down on the street was easy, I was able to take a close look at what is there now. I hoped to see an old building, but what appeared was a parking lot.

A parking lot now occupies what was a business section of Muskogee, 
and where the Givens business once stood.

The only piece of the original structure that remains is the brick wall on the very edge of the parking lot. One cannot help but stare at those bricks that were witnesses to another era, and time, and people who worked in a different place.

On one of the census records I viewed, I notice that the Givens household lived on Elgin street in Muskogee. Again, I used the the Google search feature and typed in that address, hoping to find an old house or structure. A grassy lot, now empty appeared.

A grassy lot holds the history of the Givens family, but nothing remains on the site today.

It is not known how long Rufus Givens continued to work as a watchmaker and jeweler in the city of Muskogee Oklahoma. In 1930, Rufus Givens was living with his now larger family with several children now grown.
Rufus Givens and family in 1930

The elder Rufus Givens was the proprietor of a jeweler's shop, and the son Rufus was working as the owner of his own shoe repair business as well.

Rufus Givens family with occupations listed in 1930 census.

The family continued to reside in Muskogee, as the son Rufus Givens Jr. was found in the 1940 census. There was no longer any mention of the watchmaking business of the elder Rufus Givens, and quite possibly the years of the Depression may have brought the business to a close. The legacy of Rufus Givens the watchmaker had come to an end, however, there is most likely so much more to tell.

My hope is that at some time, those who research the history of Muskogee Oklahoma and its unique and rich Black history, the name of Rufus Givens will surface as one of those gems, not to be lost in the soil of vacant lots of forgotten history.

Rufus Adolphus Givens has a family of descendants somewhere, and hopefully they will be able to provide more fabric to the wonderful story of the Black watchmaker of Muskogee.

May his work, and his memory not be lost, nor forgotten.

* * * * *

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Welcoming the Pioneer Infantries Home

My grandfather Sam Walton served in the 809th Pioneer Infantry during World War I. The army was segregated at that time, and the 809th Pioneer Infantry was an all black unit. His particular regiment served in France working the docks as Stevedores, and I wrote an article about his service and what they did during the War in Europe.

I have often wanted to learn more about the unit and how they were treated, while serving as well as when they returned home. I recently came across an article reflecting a large reception given to the men of two Pioneer regiments, the 804th and 809th respectively. Upon return of these soldiers to America in 1919, in the City of St. Paul Minnesota, a large reception was held in their honor.

The time was August 1919, and returning soldiers were asked to be present and in uniform so that would be recognized and duly honored. The St. Paul Appeal a black newspaper in Minnesota, printed a large invitation to the community the week before the event. A large committee had worked to welcome the returning soldiers.

Names of Citizens from St. Paul who planned the event were printed in The Appeal.

In other cities like New York the Black Regiments received full honors with parades and much fanfare. Pioneer regiments were met in other cities where they were apparently received with much enthusiasm as well. 

In New York the New York Tribune announced  the arrivals of shiploads of returning soldiers.
Source: NY Tribune July 17, 1919 Page 6

 In July the USS Scranton brought the men of the 809th Pioneer Infantry home, arriving form St. Nazaire, France.

USS Scranton

Somewhere on that ship, my grandfather was there, along with his comrades in arms, the other quiet soldiers "of the brawny arm."

Apparently as the soldiers moved more to the midwest, they received other warm wishes from the citizenry. In the city of Des Moines Iowa, the two infantries were welcomed the men with great enthusiasm and many festivities were planned on their behalf.
Source: The Des Moines Iowa Bystander, August 1, 1919

Eventually he was discharged from service honorably, and returned to eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas. Unfortunately Grandpa Sam died before I was born, so I never got to ask him questions about his service, about France and about what he felt of his experiences having served. But I am proud nevertheless of his service, even though he may have returned to a nation with so many challenges still ahead and he returned to a country that still did not give him all privileges he deserved. 

 But what he did in his service made a difference and he is one of the many ancestors upon whose shoulders I stand.

* * * * *

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Remembering Four Little Girls

Fifty years ago, I went to church on this date. And fifty years ago, four little girls in Birmingham Alabama went to church with their families on Sunday morning. After church I went home, But those four girls, would not return home.

I remember hearing the story of everything that happened, and I was just a bit younger, and did not fully understand. A news bulletin had come on the television, and my parents became quite upset, and they began calling their friends and talking about what had happened. The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham Alabama had been bombed, by some angry white men.

My childish mind was wondering what the little girls had done to anger the bombers so much. Had  they shown some kind of terrible disrespect, or had they committed some unforgiveable act? 

I recall asking my mother "but why did they hurt the girls?"  Tactfully she explained to me, that sometimes there are just bad people in the world, who do mean things. But I wanted to know---"had the girls been bad?"

I remember my mom explaining to me, quite patiently that good people were being hurt all the time, by mean people who did not like Negroes and they wanted to simply hurt them. "But they died." And she sensed my struggle trying to comprehend something that was simply without logic or comprehension. I recall being afraid, and wondered if our small church would be blown up.  "Oh no, that won't happen here," she assured me. "That was down in Alabama, and not here in Arkansas."   And now, I wonder now five decades later, what my mother must have felt and thought. I had been sheltered from so much already. And somehow I felt safe, in Arkansas, unaware of what had transpired in Little Rock just six years earlier and what had transpired even closer to home a mere 3 years earlier.

In the fall of 1957, the crisis of the integration the schools in Little Rock had unfolded, but I was far too young to have understood those headlines. And in 1963, hearing about the bombing in "far away" Alabama, somehow, I felt that I was safe, fully unware of local sentiments in my part of Arkansas, that were not dramatically different from that of the Birmingham bombers.

A mere 3 years in the nearby town of Van Buren, Arkansas, several children tried to attend high school. They went through much torment by their classmates and only recently I found a newspaper clipping that described what they went through. 

The town of Van Buren was very close to my hometown, just a drive across the Arkansas River bridge. I realize as my mother was comforting me, she had to recall the stories of what had happened less than 10 miles away. Though she pointed out that the church bombing happened in "far away" Alabama, but she knew what the struggles in Little Rock had involved and she was aware of what the students in the neighboring town went through.

This past summer while in Birmingham, I visited the Civil Rights Museum and directly across the street was the Church.  I saw the church through the windows of the Institute.

16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham Alabama

 I had to go and visit that church and touch the space where those children died. I went with a friend and walked inside of that beautiful sacred church. It was serene, and reflected nothing of the horrors of 50 years ago.

Interior of 16th Street Baptist Church, taken in June of this year.

Outside the church a plaque commemorating the very spot where the young girls died is present. The plaque sits on a pedestal on the corner where the explosion occurred.

Commemorative Plaque on the corner where church bombing occurred.

For me, this was a very moving experience. This was the first time I had visited the very spot where people were killed for the right just to walk as free people.  This was the place that had robbed my own innocent perspective of the world.

Though the spot was serene that day in June, there are still photos that tell the horrors of this day 50 years ago.

Image in the Civil Rights's Musuem in Birmingham depicting 
the bombing that occurred across the street from the site.

I would learn a lot more that week--I learned what had happened in Little Rock, what had happened in nearby Van Buren, and I learned about a little boy from Chicago called Emmett Till.

So many parents fifty years ago had to explain so much to their children, that evening, and for so many people of color, not only were four precious lives lost, but so was the innocence of so many children taken on that day.

May Addie, Carole, Cynthia and Denise always be remembered. They did not die in vain.

* * * * *