In The Telling: Black Family Podcast
Chronicling the Black family experience is an exciting project for us. Documentation does not always involve something tangible; it is sometimes in the telling. If we are fortunate, we learn our past from those who lived it. Oftentimes, it is by our own efforts and labor to uncover pieces of truth about our family history. This is what we will explore in this monthly podcast, people sharing stories about their families and how they came to learn them.
Contact us if you would like to be a guest on the show.
Original music by Sean Bempong
In this episode, genealogist Bernice Alexander Bennett shares information about the Homestead Act of 1862, and why it's critical that African Americans know about the Homestead Act when researching their ancestry. If your family was listed as a farmer, Bennett says, it's important to check the Homestead Act records to see if your ancestors participated in this program. Bennett advises that, "you have to understand [that] while we identify the land, and we tell the story, there is also more to the story and that’s what happened to the land."
Bernice Alexander Bennett is an award-winning author, genealogist, nationally recognized guest speaker, storyteller, and producer-host of the popular Research at the National Archives and Beyond BlogTalkRadio program. She is also the first recipient of the Ida B. Wells Service Award given by the Sons and Daughters of the United States Middle Passage for her dedication to broadcast stories about enslaved and indentured ancestors of African descent. She also received the Elizabeth Clark-Lewis Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS) Genealogy Award in 2019 for original research in support of African American Genealogy. Bennett is on the Board of Directors for the National Genealogical Society and one of the founder’s of the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute,
Bennett--a New Orleans native and current resident in Maryland--enjoyed a 35-year career in domestic and international public health. She received an undergraduate degree from Grambling State University and a graduate degree in Public Health from the University of Michigan.
Her genealogical research centers on Southeast Louisiana, and Edgefield and Greenwood Counties, South Carolina. Her South Carolina journey is chronicled in Our Ancestors, Our Stories, which won the 2018 International AAHGS Book award for Non-Fiction Short Stories. Her second book Tracing Their Steps - A Memoir received the Phillis Wheatley Literary Award from the Sons and Daughters of the United States Middle Passage in 2019; the International AAHGS Book Award in 2020 for Non-Fiction Short Story and, the Next Generations Indie Award in 2021 for African American Non-Fiction book category.
In this episode, genealogist Guy Weston falls in love with genealogy while researching 19th-century plot records purchased by his great great great great-grandfather on his mother's side. He learned the names of his ancestors and their descendants, fueling his obsession with genealogy. Guy’s mother initially thought she inherited this property when a cousin gave her the deed. However, they quickly learned it also belonged to several distant cousins, as new deeds were not executed over the years as one generation died and passed it on to the next. Guy’s introduction to genealogy was searching microfilm to look for these potential heirs.
Guy has been engaged in genealogy research for 30 years, with a substantial focus on his maternal ancestors in Timbuctoo, NJ, where his fourth great-grandfather bought his family's plot in 1829. He says today’s online databases and DNA testing have changed the landscape of what Black folks can find. He encourages all his friends to find their roots. At present, Guy manages the Timbuctoo Historical Society, is a Visiting Scholar at Rutgers University, and serves as editor of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society Journal. He maintains a website at www.timbuctoonj.com.
In this episode, genealogist Melvin Collier talks about how he became involved in researching his family's history. From the age of 4, Melvin enjoyed listening to stories about his family. By 1993, he was actively searching archives for family records. Learn about how a DNA test and a trip to Ghana resulted in a surprise transcontinental family reunion.
Melvin has been conducting historical and genealogical research for over 25 years. He’s a former civil engineer, who later earned a Master of Arts degree in African American Studies at Clark Atlanta University, in 2008, with additional graduate coursework in Archival Studies from Clayton State University. For seven years, Melvin worked as a Library Associate/Archivist at the Robert W. Woodruff Library – Atlanta University Center. He now works for the Department of Defense in the Washington, D.C. area. Melvin has appeared on the NBC show, Who Do You Think You Are, as one of the expert genealogists on the Spike Lee episode in 2010. He has given numerous presentations on genealogy, slave ancestral research, and genetic genealogy at numerous events and conferences. Melvin is the author of three books: Mississippi to Africa: A Journey of Discovery (2008), 150 Years Later: Broken Ties Mended (2011) and Early Family Heritage: Documenting Our Legacy (2016).
In her In the Telling conversation, LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson talks about the mystical aspect of doing genealogy: how the ancestors seem to guide you in uncovering their stories.
LaBrenda is a trustee and President of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. She also serves as the Registrar General of the Sons and Daughters of the United States Middle Passage, a lineage society that honors ancestors who were enslaved in the United States. LaBrenda earned a BA from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, and both a Law degree and a Master of Laws degree from the New York University School of Law. After working as a corporate tax attorney for thirty-five years, she retired in 2013 and turned her attention to her longtime avocation of Genealogy. She is now a full-time genealogist focused on writing and teaching at National institutes and conferences. Her 2016 guide to researching in her SC home county was hailed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a model for research in SC and other states.
In this episode, Lynne Huggins Smith shares a story about her 4th great grandfather, Caesar Springfield. Although Lynne knew she was a seventh generation New Yorker, she discovered that Caesar and his wife Mary, in fact were from New Jersey. And although she knew of her great grandmother Edith, and Edith’s mother Sarah, Lynne was inspired to dig deeper into her family research.
Lynne grew up in Nanuet, New York where her family moved from the Bronx. She has been doing family research since the sixties and is a former officer and current membership chair of the New York City chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc. Her family lived in New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Neevis and Suriname. Lynne is currently researching the ancestors of all four grandparents from those places and beyond. She has a Master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Michigan and completed coursework for the PhD in American history from Emory University. Lynne spent her career as a financial planning and investment professional, retiring in 2015. She lives in New York state with her husband of over forty years. She has three children and four grandchildren.
In this episode, Kelly Navies shares a great story of how one 19th Century family photograph launched a genealogical journey of discovery that involves the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, and Reconstruction.
Kelly Navies is an oral historian, writer, and poet. She coordinates the Oral History Initiative at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Navies has degrees in African American Studies and Library and Information Science from the University of California, Berkeley, and the Catholic University of America, respectively. She has also studied at the Southern Oral History Program at UNC Chapel Hill. Navies’ oral history projects and interviews are located at the Southern Oral History Program, The Reginald F. Lewis Maryland Museum of African American History and Culture, the Washington DC Public Library, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Her writing can be found in several publications including, June Jordan’s Poetry for The People: A Revolutionary Blueprint, edited by Lauren Muller, and Bum Rush the Page: A def poetry jam, edited by Tony Medina and Louis Reyes Rivera.
Here’s a great website for anyone interested in Black politicians during Reconstruction: https://much-ado.net It is run by a librarian at Mississippi State University.
Krewasky Salter. The Story of Black Military Officers, 1861-1948. London: Taylor and Francis, 2015.
Pamela Peters. The Underground Railroad in Floyd County, Indiana. North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2001.
In this episode, Deborah Robinson talks about Bob Robinson, her great-great-grandfather, who was born on Edisto Island, Charleston County, South Carolina, and the land she inherited from him.
Deborah Robinson has been a genealogist for more than 25 years. Born in Harlem and raised in the Bronx, Deborah's specialty is African American research in the southeastern United States, particularly the Gullah/Geechee culture of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Deborah holds certificates from the Boston University Center for Professional Education in Genealogical Research and the Professional Genealogy (ProGen) Study Program.
She also holds a bachelor’s degree in speech communications from Syracuse University. Deborah has worked as a Research Manager at Ancestry.com's ProGenealogists division and is currently the 2nd Vice President and Webmaster for the Jean Sampson Scott Greater New York Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society.
Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Jean Sampson Scott Greater New York Chapter: https://aahgs-newyork.org/
Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission: https://gullahgeecheecorridor.org/
Lowcountry Africana: https://lowcountryafricana.com/
Donna Cox Baker and Frazine K. Taylor, The Beyond Kin Project: Descendants of Slaveholders, Do We Still Hold a Key?: https://beyondkin.org/
Enslaved: Peoples of the Historical Slave Trade: https://enslaved.org/
Stacy Ashmore Cole, They Had Names: African Americans in Early Records of Liberty County, Georgia: https://theyhadnames.net/
Newberry Library, Atlas of Historical County Boundaries: https://digital.newberry.org/ahcb/index.html
Discover Freedmen: http://www.discoverfreedmen.org/
Toni Carrier and Angela Walton Raji, Mapping the Freedmen's Bureau: https://mappingthefreedmensbureau.com/
Ancestry.com, U.S. Freedmen's Bureau Records: A Breakthrough for Black Family History: https://www.ancestry.com/cs/freedmens?o_iid=116303&o_lid=116303&o_sch=Web+Property
International African American Museum: Center for Family History [Charleston, South Carolina]: https://cfh.iaamuseum.org/
FamilySearch.org Research Wiki: African American Genealogy: https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/African_American_Online_Genealogy_Records
Nick Lindsay, And I'm Glad: An Oral History of Edisto Island (Charleston, South Carolina: Tempus Publishing, Inc., 2000).
Charles Spencer, Edisto Island, 1663 to 1860: Wild Eden to Cotton Aristocracy (Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2008).
Charles Spencer, Edisto Island, 1861 to 2006: Ruin, Recovery and Rebirth, (Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2008).
Lorenzo Dow Turner, Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect (Columbia, South Carolina: University of Chicago Press, 1949).
De Nyew Testament: The New Testament in Gullah, Sea Island Creole with Marginal Text of the King James Version, (New York, New York: American Bible Society, 2005).
Sean Bempong has spent many years working on his family history. He is from the Deep Creek area of Chesapeake, Virginia, and was raised between Chesapeake and Norfolk. His maternal family has resided in various parts of the state since the 1600s. He is half Ghanaian. He holds a BA in Psychology from Norfolk State University graduating Magna Cum Laude and has a Masters in Anthropology from the American University in Cairo. As a small child, Sean's grandma Lillie would often ask him "who is that person and how are they related to us" which sparked his interest in genealogy. At the age of 18, he began researching census reports at the Kirn Memorial Library in downtown Norfolk to discover more information about the ancestors his family remembered in tales and photographs. His maternal family actively preserved their records and wanted this knowledge to be passed on to future generations.
Sean also provided music for In the Telling.
On the season finale of In the Telling, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor shares poems and memories from her recent book of poetry, Mama Phife Represents, honoring her son, Hip-Hop Legend, Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest aka Malik Taylor.
Mama Phife Represents is a verse memoir of a poet, mother and teaching artist who suddenly loses her son to type 1 diabetes. It is a story of loss, love, and courage.
Boyce-Taylor’s work has appeared in Rolling Stone Magazine, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and The Chicago Review of Books. She holds an MFA in creative writing/poetry from Stonecoast/The University of Southern Maine. Cheryl is the author of several books including Raw Air, Night When Moon Follows, Convincing the Body, and Arrival: Poems, and the forthcoming, We Are Not Wearing Helmets: Poems (February 2022).
On today’s episode, Maurini Strub shares introspective and warm memories of her grandmother, Honora Georgina John, who was born in Trinidad in 1926 and had profound effect on her life. Born and raised in the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Maurini emigrated to the US in the early 1990s to pursue her higher education. She spent over 20 years in Detroit and just shy of 5 years in Louisville, KY before moving to Rochester, NY. She has been a swim instructor, lifeguard, and even an insurance cold caller (yes, she's been that person) and hopes to one day bike her first century.
On today’s episode, Vernon Textel, who was born in Paramaribo, Suriname, shares a bit of his own family history, starting with himself, his parents and then maternal grandparents. He also talks about what African-ness means in Suriname--as in how African peoples came to Suriname and how people of African descent identify themselves today. Textel is a journalist at the De Ware Tijd newspaper and public communications officer at Staatsolie Petroleum Company in Paramaribo, Suriname. Born in 1975, Vernon was raised by his mother, Muriel Texel and says that he was born into a typical Black Surinamese family.
Andwele means “God brought & delivered me” in Swahili. He was born November 20, 1977 in the capital of Suriname, Paramaribo. Suriname is a small country on the northern coast of South America where the official language is Dutch. He currently lives on the island of Saint Maarten in the West Indies where he works as a clinical pharmacist. His journey into unearthing his family history started as a child...being fascinated by stories told at family gatherings. Stories that connected him to people long dead before he was born...but whose stories helped to shape his identity...and fed his hunger to fill in the blanks.
In this episode, Andwele's story begins with a 1926 photograph featuring his great grandmother on the occasion of her 60th birthday. It was his curiosity about the people in that picture that made him always listen to stories from his mother’s siblings and cousins about those memories from their childhood, and bits and pieces of information that they remembered about stories that were told to them.
Odile Tevie’s love of people and their stories and connections inspire a curiosity that moves her to explore beyond the surface and cross boundaries. Born in Accra, Tevie refuses to be boxed in by anyone and embraces all the things that make and have shaped her. And for her, the voyage of discovery is a never-ending one.
Tevie is the current director and co-founder of Nubuke Foundation, a visual arts and cultural foundation based in Accra, the capital of Ghana and in outstation Wa-Upper West Region. She is a graduate of University of Ghana BA (honors) Computer Science, Mathematics. Her journey within the arts started after retiring from 10 successful years in the field of IT. After setting up Black Swan gallery in London from 2000 to 2005, her interest in artists and creative people grew.
Under Tevie's vision and drive, Nubuke Foundation, established in 2006, has become an internationally acknowledged arts institution whose robust and engaging programming calendar has supported the career of many mid-career Ghanaian artists today. The multi-faceted programming initiatives of the Foundation can be attributed in Tevie's interests in people and her curiosity about human interactions beyond the obvious.
Ajamu is a fine art photographic artist, scholar, archive curator, and radical sex activist with a 25+ year track record of exhibiting in museums, galleries, and alternative spaces worldwide. He is the co-founder of the award winning rukus! Federation, the rukus! Black LGBTQ Archive, and is a leading specialist on Black queer history, heritage, and cultural memory in the UK.
His philosophical-political-aesthetic includes portraiture/studio-based constructed imagery, early analogue printing processes, and large format photography, which unapologetically celebrates Black queer bodies, the erotic sense[s], desire, pleasure as activism, and difference. He recently made history by showing the first erect penis on British terrestrial TV in the documentary, Me and My Penis.
The Nomadic Archivists Project (NAP) is seeking submissions for The Evidence: Black Archivists Holding Memory, an anthology exploring the archival experience across Africa and the African Diaspora. We understand that the global Black archival experience is a complex one and converging over time, space, and memory. We acknowledge and affirm archiving our stories is a cultural and political act. Learn more about the project here.
Dr. Edwina Ashie-Nikoi is an archivist, historian and curator of the African/Diaspora experience. Her probing of culture and history began early, constantly asking (pestering!) her bemused parents and older kinfolk about their family and Ga ethnic histories. Having connected with various strands of blackness while growing up in Dubai, studying in the US and researching in the Caribbean and UK, she continues to be fascinated personally and academically with the ways peoples of African descent document themselves. Her scholarly research engages the myriad cultural records and indigenous knowledge peoples of Africa descent create as well as the institutions and processes involved in preserving them. Edwina currently teaches at the University of Ghana (UG)’s Department of Information Studies and is editorial coordinator of UG’s Institute of African Studies' Contemporary Journal of African Studies. On today's episode, Dr. Ashie-Nikoi shares information about Ga naming practices, which are unique in Ghana. Ga names immediately identify one's clan, one's position among siblings, possibly even one's father's position among his siblings, one's clan, and possibly one's town of origin.
In this episode, Dr. Maboula Soumahoro talks her Côte d'Ivoire heritage and the complexities of being born in France.
Dr. Soumahoro is an associate professor in the English department of the University of Tours, France, where she also received her PhD. A specialist in the field of Africana Studies (Atlantic), Dr. Soumahoro has conducted research and taught in several universities and prisons in the United States and France: Bennington College, Columbia University (New York and Paris), Barnard College, Bard Prison Initiative (Bayview Correctional Facility), Stanford University (Paris), Sciences Po (Paris and Reims), the prisons in Bois-d’Arcy, Villepinte (juvenile detention), and Fresnes. From 2013 to 2016, Dr. Soumahoro served as a member of the National Committee for the Memory and History of Slavery. Since 2013, she is also the president of the Black History Month (BHM), an organization dedicated to the celebration of Black history and cultures throughout the world. Dr. Soumahoro is the author of Le Triangle et l’Hexagone, réflexions sur une identité noire (Black is the Journey, Africana the Name, La Découverte).
Flip Couto is the Executive director of "Aliança Pró Saúde da População Negra" (Alliance for the Health of the Black Population), founder of Collective AMEM (group of black queer artists), dancer at Sansa-croma company and member of House of Zion.
He is an HIV+ brazilian dancer, performer, cultural mischief maker and curator who interrogates, redefines and creates a diverse range of spaces and actions athwart the periphery of São Paulo culture.
As a South American gay black male who is publicly open about his HIV status, Flip uses his own body as source material. Working within and across several companies, projects, different community groups and networks both physically and on online including --art, urban spaces, dance battles, balls, performances and theatre--his practice is always searching for a transit between these spaces, which provides and provokes a creative-socio-political conversation within the gaps and silences in the Brazilian QPOC community and the wider public.
In this interview, he speaks about the value of family, his biological family, his partner, and the House of Zion.
In this episode, librarian and genealogist Phillip Bond talks about the maternal and paternal matriarchs of his family, Venus Bond and Ella Dockery, the impossible odds they had against them and the incredible legacy they left behind.
Phillip Bond has been working in public libraries for 15 years. Beginning his career as a public librarian for the Brooklyn Public Library, he uses the diverse backdrop of the changing Brooklyn Borough to create projects, events, and programs around archives, photography, oral histories, podcasting, and genealogy. The Milwaukee native has a personal invested interest in the research of his African American Southern roots, by way of Tennessee and Arkansas, having traced his family lineage back 6 generations to the 1700's. He currently resides in Washington DC and works as an Adult Literacy and Technology Librarian in South East DC for the DC Public Library.
Where are you from? Where are your families from? Dr. Stanton Biddle began his family research in response to these questions from classmates while in grade school in rural western New York State, which was largely white. His initial questions: when did his African American ancestors come to New York; where did they come from and why did they come? These questions gave way to other questions. Fortunately, his family had amassed significant documentation of their presence in New York going back many generations. In this episode, Dr. Biddle talks about applying his library research skills to his quest to document his family’s unique history.
Dr. Stanton Biddle is a retired librarian whose career spanned nearly fifty years. He held positions at the Library of Congress, The New York Public Library, Howard University, SUNY at Buffalo, and finally Baruch College at the City University of New York. His time at New York Public included seven years at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture where he served as reference librarian, archivist, and research project director. Dr. Biddle was born and raised in a rural and predominantly white area of western New York State. He has cultivated a lifelong interest in African American history and culture. His focus in retirement has been on genealogy, primarily involving his own African American family that has been based in western New York for over two hundred years.
Eric Darnell Pritchard is an award-winning writer, cultural critic, and an Associate Professor of English at the University at Buffalo. He is also faculty at the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. Eric is the author of Fashioning Lives: Black Queers and the Politics of Literacy and editor of “Sartorial Politics, Intersectionality, and Queer Worldmaking,” a special issue of QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking. Pritchard’s writings on fashion, popular culture, literacy, rhetoric, and pedagogies have been published in multiple venues including the International Journal of Fashion Studies, Harvard Educational Review, Visual Anthropology, Literacy in Composition Studies, and ARTFORUM. Currently, he is completing two books: a historical ethnography of Black queer feminist literacy activism and a biography of 1980s international fashion superstar Patrick Kelly.
In this episode, Eric shares a story about his family who suffered two house fires (one when he was an infant) and how family photographs gained an even more important significance his my elders that has been passed down in various ways. Learn more about Eric's work here: https://www.ericdarnellpritchard.com/
If we are fortunate, we have our biological families and our chosen families. Our history as African Americans is a complicated, often painful one. As descendants of enslaved people, we lived with the omnipresent possibility of separation through the sale of our fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers. After coming out to their family, many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people also suffered the loss of family members. This episode shares the beautiful story of Lee Levingston Perine and Patience, two queer African Americans who chose each other as family, a quality that both the Black and LGBTQ communities have been doing for centuries.
Lee is a Washington, DC-based project manager, event planner and creative. He has planned or helped plan everything from weddings to nonprofit events to an LGBTQ+ music festival headlined by the Queen of Bounce, Big Freedia. He’s the founder of Makers Lab and his latest project is a virtual Black Pride Festival happening this May.
Patience is a creator, actress, vocalist, and writer native to Washington, D.C; a creative with a passion for the spoken word and sound healing. She is most recently recognized as the "Scat" of the Peace & Bodyroll Duo BOOMscat. Patience is an artist who creates collages for your listening pleasure. If you listen closely you may feel her heart between your ears.
Learn about Black in Space here!
Building a healthy life can be difficult. Doing it while engaging dysfunctional family members can be insufferable. Carla Whyte, an educator from Brooklyn, NY, knows this struggle intimately. As the only person in her immediate family to participate extensively in therapy, Carla considers what it means to strive to be well in a toxic family environment. The Brooklynite has been teaching for about a decade (ESL and history to middle and high schoolers), first in South Korea, then Liberia, Guinea, France, and now she is back in New York. Carla studied sociology as an undergraduate where she became fascinated with race relations in professional and collegiate spaces, as well as disparities in educational access, particularly for black people. While she enjoys teaching, Carla also has an interest in tapping into her creative side through blogging and podcasting.
Join us this episode as we speak with Katherine “Kat” Cheairs, a filmmaker, educator, curator, activist and community artist. Kat’s areas of interest and research include: HIV & AIDS; visual culture; media arts therapy; community arts; and, critical race theory in art education. Ms. Cheairs is a co-curator of Metanoia: Transformation Through AIDS Archives and Activism, an archival exhibition focusing on the contributions of Black women, transwomen of color, and women of color HIV/AIDS activists from the early 1990s to the present. Ms Cheairs is the producer and director of the documentary, Ending Silence, Shame & Stigma: HIV/AIDS in the African American Family. Kat’s new project in development, In This House, is a video installation exploring HIV/AIDS narratives through the Black body. Kat has appeared and presented on panels at the Tribeca Film Institute, BAM, Pratt Institute, The New School, New York University, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Aperture Foundation, and UnionDocs.
Kat shares her memories of visiting her maternal grandparent's home in the summer time in Memphis, Tennessee.
Alexis De Veaux was born and raised in Harlem. She is the product of two merging streams of black history in New York City--immigrants from the Caribbean on her mother’s side and migrants from North Carolina on her father’s side who settled in Harlem in the early decades of the Twentieth Century. The second of eight children, that history was embedded in her mother’s view of life: as she would say, “you got three strikes against you. You poor, you black, and you female.” But Alexis was drawn to the world of words and books, and literature soon became the means by which she re-imagined the world her mother understood. She is the author of many books including Na-Ni, (1973); Spirits in the Street (1974); Blue Heat: A Portfolio of Poems & Drawings (1985); Don't Explain: A Song of Billie Holiday (1988) and Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde (2004) and Yabo (2014).
In this episode, Alexis talks about grief and loss as emotional states impacting black family life from her point of view. Check out the photographs above for the images of the bookstate Alexis made for her sister Renee.
Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a community-cherished writer, a queer Black feminist scholar and an aspirational cousin to you and everyone you know. Alexis is the author of Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity (Duke Press, 2016), M Archive: After the End of the World (Duke Press 2018) and Dub: Finding Ceremony (Duke Press, 2020). She is also the co-editor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines (PM Press, 2016). The Anguilla Literary Festival called Alexis "The Pride of Anguilla." A Publisher's Weekly starred review of her most recent book called her work "groundbreaking." Bitch Magazine calls Alexis "a literary treasure." North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green says "Like Audre Lorde, Gumbs writes for the complexity of her vision." A proud Barnard graduate, Alexis was the first person to research in the archival papers of Audre Lorde at Spelman College, June Jordan at Harvard University and Lucille Clifton at Emory University during her research for her dissertation "We Can Learn to Mother Ourselves," towards the completion of her doctorate in English, African and African American Studies and Women and Gender Studies at Duke University. Alexis is now the provost of the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind in Durham, NC, and co-founder of the Black Feminist Bookmobile, Black Feminist Film School and the Mobile Homecoming Trust Living Library and Archive of Queer Black Brilliance. Alexis is also Creative Writing Editor of Feminist Studies and celebrant in residence at NorthStar Church of the Arts in Durham, NC.
In this episode of In the Telling, Christopher Stahling talks about his two seminal figures in his life, his grandmothers Ethel and Thelma. Both women lived together in Harlem and deeply impacted Christopher as a youngster, though differently. Join us for enjoyable and thoughtful stories about these two special women--and learn about Chris, too!
Christopher Stahling is life coach, mixed media visual artist, caterer and healer. Native Harlemite. That's him in the photo, you'll learn that he's so much more. Have a listen.
Follow him on IG @insatiablelion.
In our second episode, we interview Miranda Mims, co-founder of the Nomadic Archivist Project (NAP), an initiative devoted to developing relationships and beginning conversations around preserving legacy, memory, connection, and trust in the African diaspora. She is the Special Collections Archivist for Discovery and Access and Curator of modern literature and publishers, human rights and social justice, and local LGBTQ history and culture in the Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation (RBSCP) at the University of Rochester. Miranda has been actively researching her family history for the last 15 years, from reconstructing the lives of her grandmothers, Fannie Pearl Bowen and Lucella Atwater Stillwell, to her efforts in uncovering the truth about her great Grandfather, John Mims. It has been hard at times because there are so many missing records, including the 1890 census - which could have been an important piece to John's story, if it wasn't destroyed in a fire in 1921.
*After hearing this episode, my mother told me my first time involved in genealogical research was when I was a month old when she took me to a census-taking training.
Glad you are here to join us on our very first episode of In the Telling!
Our first episode features NAP's co-founder Steven G. Fullwood - writer, archivist, and amateur photographer and filmmaker. His published works include Black Gay Genius (2014), and Carry the Word: A Bibliography of Black LGBTQ Books (2007). Fullwood is the former associate curator of the Manuscripts, Archives & Rare Books Division at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. He is the co-founder of the Nomadic Archivists Project, an initiative that partners with organizations, institutions, and individuals to establish, preserve, and enhance collections that explore the African Diasporic experience. He’s currently exploring his filmmaking interests through documentary work. He is a regular contributor to the American Age podcast. Fullwood enjoys reading about neuroscience, astrophysics, and watching science and nature documentaries.