U.S. Census Bureau Black History Month Feature for Feb. 1

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1: BLACK HISTORY MONTH

Audio: Black History Month

Profile America for the first day of Black History Month. February is a time to recall and honor the many positive contributions to our nation made by the people of African descent. Started as a special week 84 years ago by historian Carter G. Woodson, the observance is now a full month of activities across the country. There are just over 41 million African-Americans in the U.S., 13½ percent of the total population. They are the largest minority group in 24 states.  New York has the largest number of blacks at 3.5 million, and 17 other states are home to al least 1 million. The state with the highest percentage of African-Americans among its population is Mississippi at 38 percent. This special edition of Profile America is a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau, conducting the 2010 Census beginning April 1st.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Facts for Features, CB10-FF.01

Profile America is produced by the Public Information Office of the U.S. Census Bureau. These daily features are available as produced segments, ready to air, on a monthly CD or on the Internet at http://www.census.gov (look under the “Newsroom” button).

Eunice W. Johnson, 1916-2010

Eunice W. Johnson gave Ebony magazine its name and for almost 50 years produced an influential traveling fashion show that brought haute couture to African-Americans while raising millions of dollars for charity.

The widow of Johnson Publishing Co. founder John H. Johnson, Mrs. Johnson, 93, died of renal failure Sunday, Jan. 3, in her Chicago home, according to a company spokeswoman.

A close business partner of her husband’s since the beginning of Johnson Publishing in 1942, Mrs. Johnson remained the company’s secretary-treasurer at the time of her death and for years wrote a monthly fashion feature for Ebony magazine.

Johnson Publishing’s flagship, conceived as an African-American version of Life magazine and published since 1945, was named by Mrs. Johnson to reflect the mystique of fine black ebony wood, said Wendy Parks of Johnson Publishing.

But Mrs. Johnson’s greatest legacy may be her role as producer and director of the Ebony Fashion Fair, an influential event that for decades has been a showcase for the world’s top designers.

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Black golf pioneer Powell dies

CANTON, Ohio – Bill Powell, the first African American to build, own and operate a golf course, died Thursday. He was 93.

The PGA of America said Powell died at Aultman Hospital in Canton following complications from a stroke.

“Bill Powell will forever be one of golf’s most unforgettable American heroes,” PGA of America president Jim Remy said. “Bill made us appreciate the game and each other that much more by his gentle, yet firm example.

“He was born with a fire within his heart to build on his dream. In the process, he made golf a beacon for people of all color. The PGA of America is better today because of individuals like Bill Powell. We will miss him dearly. We extend our thoughts and prayers to his family as we remember a wonderful man.”

In August, Powell received the PGA Distinguished Service Award, the association’s highest annual honor. In November, he was inducted into the Northern Ohio PGA Hall of Fame and honored as the Person of the Year by the Ohio Golf Course Owners Association.

The Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce also recently presented the Powell family with its Community Salute Award.

“My father made a mark,” said daughter Renee Powell, the second black player to compete on the LPGA Tour. “And, I believe that God wanted people to know the mark that he made on this nation.”

The grandson of Alabama slaves, Powell created Clearview Golf Club after returning home following World War II. While serving in Europe, he earned the rank of Technical Sergeant in the U.S. Eighth Air Force Truck Battalion.

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Preservationists fight to properly document slave cemetery

Race against time
Preservationists want to document plantation slave cemeteries before history is lost

By Prentiss Findlay

Eugene Frazier and Thomas Johnson surveyed a forest of graves at a hidden cemetery on James Island where they said more than 200 people are laid to rest. Most of the deceased are in unmarked graves. Many of them were Africans brought here as slaves, they said.

Frazier and Johnson have known about the graveyard for years. They told stories of how the property has changed hands over time. They talked about how they want to clean, document and preserve the final resting place of ancestors brought here in chains.

“This is not just unique to James Island. It is throughout the state really that you have this problem with burial sites,” Johnson said.

Johnson, founder of the Committee to Preserve African-American Cemeteries on James Island, said plantation slave cemeteries are as important as a history lesson. “I want my folks’ story to be told,” he said.

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Searching for family, Chicagoans trace their root

BY CHIKA S. ODUAH
NOV 11, 2009

Kimberly Warren was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005. In March, she began to search her family history to find where the gene might have come from.

“It’s something in my body,” said Warren, who is 37. “I want to know who in my family it was that gave it to me.”

She joined the African-American Genealogical and Historical Society of Chicago this year to learn how to begin tracing her family roots.

As the society’s youngest member, Jones is part of a growing community of African -American genealogists in Chicago.

Formed in 1979, the African -American Genealogical Historical Society of Chicago is one of the largest of its kind in the nation. Some of its more than 200 members have published books, appeared in documentaries and lectured at national conferences.

“We’re here to dispel the mystery of our history,” said Roberta Mack, a society member. Mack has traced her family roots back to the 1860s. She said Alex Haley’s “Roots,” a historical novel published in 1976, made it okay for blacks to research their family.

“There are so many unknowns,” she said, “and we have to search for the answers and for the truth.”

Continue reading ‘Searching for family, Chicagoans trace their root’ »

Day 2 at IBGS – Part 2

It’s almost 2:00 in the morning and just arrived home after driving straight through from Ft. Wayne. Going to get a few zzzzzzs before I have to get up to go to work but wanted to post these photos for your enjoyment:

There’s more. Will add them over the next few days.

Day 2 at IBGS – Part 1

Selma Stewart arrived early this morning to relieve me so I was able to take in a couple of workshops. Thanks, Selma!

Bennett Greenspan pulling up Dad's test results on FamilyTreeDNA

Bennett Greenspan pulling up Dad's test results on FamilyTreeDNA

Bennett Greenspan, President and CEO of Family Tree DNA, gave an illuminating talk on DNA and broke it down so that just about anyone could understand. Even for someone like me who’s done every test available, I learned something new (about mutations). Caught up with Greenspan afterward at the AfricanDNA table and went over my latest 67-marker test results. Hey, people, I had my results analyzed by Bennett Greenspan! How special is that! Anyway, will let y’all in on my findings at another time and on another forum. Watch for my post on the AfriGeneas DNA Research Forum.

David fielding questions between sessions.

David fielding questions between sessions.

David Paterson’s presentation was next. Same place. Didn’t even have to move from my seat. The theater held several hundred and the room was pretty well filled. David ran over but attendees told him to keep going. What I liked most was that he illustrated the various naming options chosen by former slaves with actual cases. How many times have you been researching a family in the census record and their surname seemed to change between census years and you wondered wha’ happened? David explained what happened in that instance and answered many more perplexing questions. Great talk, David!

Day 1 at IBGS in Ft. Wayne

It’s been a hectic day here in Ft. Wayne. I planned to blog from the AfriGeneas booth but the steady stream of visitors didn’t allow much free time. Anyway, it’s 3:00 in the morning and what better thing to do than to bring y’all up to date on a day that went exceptionally well but ended on a bizarre note.

In case you didn’t know, this is AfriGeneas’ first time ever exhibiting. Our members have represented at various conferences and conclaves but we have never set up as an entity. One of the advantages of “being there” is that we finally got to meet all the folks whose names (at least their screen names) we know by heart but whom we’ve never seen in person. Here are a few:

I plan to take in a few of the sessions tomorrow (er, I mean later today) while AfriGeneas volunteers man the booth. Can’t miss Bennett Greenspan of Family Tree DNA who’s speaking in the Session I and David Paterson in Session II. I haven’t planned beyond that but will look over the schedule in the morning.

The evening wrapped up with a banquet. Dorothy Spruill Redford, author of Somerset Homecoming, was the keynoter and, folks, if you’ve never heard her speak, she was excellent. She spoke about her journey to make Somerset Place a reality. She described the trials and tribulations of dealing with the entrenched bureaucracy (something we all can identify with) sprinkled with a lot of humor and a bit of irreverence. She also congratulated the organizers of IBGS who took a leap of faith and the participants for turning out in large numbers and being the “wind beneath their wings.”

Unfortunately, the banquet ended rather abruptly during Algurie Wilson’s acknowledgements of the volunteers and sponsors. A warning forced us to “leave the building immediately, do not take the elevators”, etc. so we all filed out of the convention center into the night. Will try to find out the scoop tomorrow (er, today) about what happened.