What Does A Researcher Do on Her Birthday?


Personally, I think I am my mother’s easiest child. I never asked for much and spent much of my childhood as I preferred it–alone and with a book in my hand. I tended to my little sister’s every need, skipped out on prom, never failed a course, and always prided myself on my independence. No shade to my other siblings, I just gave my mom the least amount of headaches and gray hairs. (My mom did not endorse this post, I honestly think she only read my blog once).

So as one suspects, I did not turn up in any way for my 23rd birthday. In fact, it was an interesting happy birthday. I sat on a bus to New York City to see my sister in Harlem with tears in my eyes reading and staying updating with the Charleston shooting. The nine lives lost in this terrorist act broke my heart and the burning of black churches in the South continue to make me weep. Sometimes, I ask myself what is happening to the world from the deportation and harassment of Haitians, the burning and raping of young girls in South Sudan, and institutional racism to the police brutality. Then again, the world is simply the same. Hatred, destruction, violence, and brutality is nothing new, but still it is heartbreaking to live in the world today.

When I arrived in the city, I headed straight to Harlem to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. I knew the only thing that would make me happy was research. Previously, I have travelled to the center to research the Flowers family on multiple occasions. The last time I was at the photography division, I was told to call ahead for the second box of photos I wanted to view where located at an off-site storage room. This time I called a week in advance. So on my birthday, I had a box waiting for me.

There were at least twelve folders within the box and none of these contained information I needed. No biggie tho, it was still exciting to view these images of Geraldine’s Head Start work. Out of all the photos, a few where immediately requested for copying. This included a picture with Geraldine at a table with the late Ruby Dee and author Toni Cade Bambara, whose book I recently picked up (thank you Gerry). All photos can be found at the Schomburg Center’s photo division in the Geraldine Wilson Collection.

Speaking to the curator, I learned that there was a high possibility that the Geraldine Wilson Collection was most likely donated by Wilson herself. This was my guessing, yet her death certificate and obituary is included. Perhaps, this was something indicated on her will by the owner of her estate whose name I will receive soon *crosses fingers*. Following my journey in the photos division, I travelled one floor down to chat with the curators in the manuscripts and rare books division only to return the next day to shamelessly browsed through a few boxes. At the Schomburg, there is currently a Black Lives Matter exhibit, which is beautiful. I went with a few older ladies, one recounted the time she held Malcolm X speak to a crowd down a few avenues. Gosh, this living history.

Afterwards, I met up with my sister who surprised me with a birthday dinner.Amy Ruthe’s Restaurant in Harlem is the place to go. Not only is it black-owned, but the menu is black named. Don’t believe me? I had the Rev. Al Sharpton (classic chicken and waffles) and my sister had the President Obama (smothered chicken with macaroni and collards), Check it out if you are in town! Drinks shortly followed as well as laundry and old episodes of Hey Arnold. Yes, I went to bed by 1 am.

The next morning, we travelled back to the Schomburg, I looked through a few boxes, and together we embarked on a new adventure to locate Geraldine’s residence while she was in Harlem. Following a long walk and multiple wrong turns, we made it!


It was a large gated complex and going inside was a no. But still we were there and that is all that matters.

Until the next post,


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