Chapter Two: “What Have You To Say”

With the completion of chapter one of my thesis, I move on to the introduction (backwards I know) and chapter two, the biography of Rachel Flowers.

Rachel Flowers-low res

Photo Source: Messiah College Archives

This image first introduced me to my research. Messiah College archivist placed the image’s date between 1916 to 1918, the years of her enrollment. I am unsure of the building–either Old Main or the old schoolhouse. In a focus on her educational activism and the familial resistances, I am excited to write this chapter.


It may just be me, but if I do not have that #dropthemic title, I cannot write a paper until I do. In an examination of her writings, I look to take a quote which captures her essence and activism, but nothing has struck out to me yet. The current working title comes from her newspaper article headings.

“What Have You to Say” by Rachel Helen Flowers, Philadelphia Tribune, 1932.

To the Editor of the Tribune:

    The old proverb, “Strike while the iron is hot,” is as full of truth today as in the days of old. It is quiet obvious that the seed of prejudice was sown by the Board of Education when Negroes were appointed to teach in school comprised only of Negro children. The acceptance of these positions was the acceptance of segregated schools.    

     What was done? Nothing. The 134,229 Negros in Philadelphia sat languidly be waiting for something to happen. And at last, the inevitable has happened.

    Undoubtedly, the Board also waited until this pill was well digested, and since there was no noticeable reaction a second and worse attempt is made to dupe the public into the belief that the Negro teacher’s limitation is the 6th grade.

    Today, the Negro population in Philadelphia is 219,599, an increase of 63.6 percent since 1920. What is going to be done about this most outrageous injustice that is being dealt to these Negroes? Cooperation is the remedy. Cooperation, in the near future, as it has not in the long past, must solve this and many other unsolved Negro problems. Cooperation, to the extent that we will fight for the rights that belong to us as American citizens, but which are denied to us because of color. But such cooperation, to be fruitful, demands intelligent, leadership, courage, and enthusiasm.

    The theory, “The best interest of the Negro children is served under the Negro teacher,” (quoting Jas A. Newby in a recent  issue in this column) is all the “bunk” and only tends toward greater discrimination. On the contrary, the best interest of the American children is served under the efficient teacher, irrespective of race or color. The Negro teacher will then be given the proper place. The competent Negro will be appointed to teach, not only in colored schools, but in mixed, junior, and senior  high schools and colleges in Philadelphia and elsewhere.

    The poisonous venom of prejudice is largely practiced in schools. Hence, if we will oust segregation from the school system , segregation as a whole is doomed.

    However, the conclusions show with unmistakable clearness, when the minds of youth are instilled with the idea that the government of this country exists for the protection and preservation of the people– the things to which we are so bitterly opposed– segregated schools, segregated politics, and segregated movies, will dissolve, as it were, into utter oblivion. “

Rachel H. Flowers

Current Outline (Processing “out loud”)

  1. Introduction
  2.  Early Years in Florida (1900-1913)
  3. The Great Migration (1913)
  4. Education at Boiling Springs High School (1913-1915)
  5. Integration of Messiah College (1916-1918)
  6. Career as a teacher (1920-1928)
  7. Father’s death and Second “Migration to Philadelphia” (1928)
  8. Fight for equal education (1931-1933)
  9. Participation in Social and Civil Rights Organization (NCNW, NAACP, ASALH)
  10. Later years and family life (transitions into final chapter-her niece’s biography)

Primary sources from: Pennsylvania State Archives, Schomburg Center, and Messiah College Archives.

Let the fun begin:)



Thesis Writing


Photo Source

I am writing my thesis, the long awaited thesis. I entitled the project “Our Children’s Children Live Forever”: The Educational Activism of the Sawyer-Flowers Family in America From 1866-1988. It is exciting, but it is a bit scary. Scary because I am writing the history of a family I have never met. Scary because it will be judged. Scary because my insecurities in my writing cause me to doubt my work. I am scared to write my thesis!

Slowly, I am gaining a new sense of confidence in my work, especially through the encouragement of my professor and peers. I just need to write and continue to edit and proofread. Since the start of classes, I write, I research, I edit, and I write even more. It is challenging some days and other days I can write four pages in two hours.

I will be posting more, I have found a significant number of primary sources on Rev. JJ Sawyer, Rachel’s grandfather, from the Discover Freedmen database. I am excited to share these documents with you.

Decided to leave you all with the standing introduction to Chapter One (“Our Children Shall Learn”: Reverend Joseph J. Sawyer and the Creation of Black School [working title]). I hope to shorten the introduction or perhaps rearrange it a bit. Any input it welcomed:)

On June 30, 1869, a 30-year old Joseph “JJ” Sawyer filled out his monthly teacher’s report for his local Freedmen’s Bureau.[1]  At Zion Sabbath School, he taught six hours a day to about fifty Black children outside of Southampton County, Virginia. Sawyer served as his student’s only teacher in a one room Baptist church. Out of his fifty students, only six held basic literacy skills and only four experienced “freedom” prior to emancipation.[2] When asked to state the public’s sentiment toward “Colored Schools”, he wrote “generally favorable I believe.”[3] Five years earlier, Southern states continued to prohibit the teaching of Black children. His occupation was once illegal. Across the South, states punished Blacks, both freed and enslaved, for the educating themselves. As a result of these laws and punishments, the majority of slaves emerged from emancipation illiterate.[4] Sawyer’s students held a luxury unimaginable to him as a child. Still, their desire to receive an education outweighed their previous societal condition. This desire sparked an educational revolution throughout the South fueled by Blacks’ passion to learn and supported by Northern missionary societies and organizations. This chapter examines how Blacks utilized education as a weapon of resistance throughout this movement. Specifically, it studies the educational activism of Sawyer and his use of Northern missionary organizations, the Freedmen’s Bureau, and the AME Church.

[1]  The Freedmen’s Bureau set a stand monthly form to be submitted from teachers. These reports documented local teachers’ understanding of local sentiment toward Black education and data concerning enrollment, attendance, and student information. See Butchart’s Schooling the Freed People. “United States Freedmen’s Bureau, Records of the Superintendent of Education and of the Division of Education, 1865-1872” database, Family Search (( : 1 August 2016), Virginia > Roll 16, Teachers’ monthly school reports, May 1869-Aug 1869 > image 774 of 1161; citing multiple NARA microfilm publications (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1969-1978).
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid
[4] J.P. Lichtenberger. “Negro Illiteracy in the United States,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 49 (1913), 177.

Until the next post,



“My Grandmothers Were Six Feet Tall”: Geraldine’s Family Memories


Geraldine Wilson, 1955

The more I discover about this family, the more I wondered if they were aware of one another’s accomplishments. I wondered if Geraldine knew of her grandfather’s service in the American Civil War. Did Rachel know of her grandfather’s educational activism? Did this fuel her own activism?As always in research, with many answers come more questions. After this most recent visit to the Schomburg Center, I noted that Geraldine wrote about her great-grandfather and her grandmothers. In the 1970s, she wrote a book entitled “Both of my Grandmothers Were Over Six Feet Tall”; however, no publisher took her book. This simple act showed that she knew of her  family’s own history. She recognized her great-grandfather’s work in education and her Aunt Rachel’s social activism in Philadelphia. Perhaps she followed in their footsteps to continue the battle for educational equality and opportunity for African Americans.

This brief story I am sharing today comes from Geraldine’s archival collection. It remained untitled and undated, yet it provided me with her paternal grandparents’ love story.


 The biggest thing I remember about my grandmother was that she was foolish about her hair. It was Black as skin and she was what they called Cold-Creek Indian. Hell they brought her from old Viriginia to Tennesee when she was but a child. They settled in Gallatin. While she was there, came another family named Alaskas. This was grandpop’s family. You see Grama [sic] was their house-girl. Grandpap was Alaskas houseboy.  They kept her ’cause she was young and supple and could have lots of children. Ain’t that hard? She waited on Missus and did nice things around the house—–

Hell (sp.) grandpap was young and just as Black as satin and real handsome and grandma was getting to the age where she liked young men you know. They begin courting. I asked Grandma why she liked him. She say he was nice and handsome…Well, they kept on courting  back and forth and finally she married him.

He just wore a shirt. Ain’t that hard.

Until the next post,


#BlackGirlsTravel: A Week in Panama


Taboga Island, Panama

I love to travel. If I am not traveling, I am planning my next international adventure. So Panama began with a phone call to  my old college roommate, Djola (who I know loves to have fun) and my sister, Faith, who needed a stamp in her passport. I wanted to spend a week celebrating my birthday in a different country and with my travel squad set we needed a destination. At first, it was Iceland, then Mexico, then Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and Belize. One day I discovered cheap tickets to Panama. I made the call and everyone was ready to finally purchase a ticket…two months before the trip.

Some small tips when travelling with friends.

  1. First determine a date! Despite my spontaneous plans, I knew that I wanted to go around my birthday (June 18th); however, with it being a Friday, I chose a Monday because tickets are cheaper. I also knew I wanted to travel for a week. I am not the let’s spend three days or a cruise somewhere type of person. Let me explore and learn about the culture; therefore, June 20th-June 27th was the plan.
  2. Choose a departure city! I live in NC, DJ lives in Pennsylvania, and my sister lives in NYC. With my research at the Schomburg and its short distance to PA, we initially chose LGA or JFK. Choose an airport that is easily accessible to your crew.
  3. Everyone has a task! After choosing Panama, one person took over travel regulations/what to know before we travel, another took over things to do and cost, and I took over hotel/hostel options.
  4. Everyone creates a bucket list! We each choose the top three to five things we wanted to do in Panama whether it was nightlife, biking, or hiking. Although it was my birthday trip, I wanted to ensure my squad had fun.


(From front to back–Djola, Faith, and me–Panama Canal)



We traveled during the rainy season, yet only experienced rain on the first day and the sixth day. The first day we explored the area around our hotel, which I highly recommend, Toscana Inn. As a person who supports local and small business, I did not want to stay in a Hilton, Double Tree, and God forbid a Trump hotel. This hotel was only $65 a night for three people (roughly $23 per person) and the staff helped us in so many ways with food recommendations, with taxis (they had a friend who got us around the country for mad cheap), and Panamanian culture. So what exactly did we do? We did a lot in seven days. We biked down the  Amador Causeway (Calzada de Amador) for miles with waters surrounding us. We danced into the morning at a rooftop club and met so many locals, and a lady from Houston. Dancing is the best way to exchange cultures and the drinks were amazing…although I am not sure what they were.

We dined and had traditional Panamanian dishes. My favorite meals included the oxtails (at a Caribbean restaurant owned by an Afro-Latina), fried red snappers, octopus ceviche, and plantains. Oh and the mojitos! Obviously, I stuck to seafood because it is cheaper in the Caribbean. My favorite memory was a nice karaoke restaurant just behind our hotel. We were the only people there and whatever we asked for, whether it was on the menu or not, they made. About an hour later, we asked about karaoke and probably spent about two hours singing Mariah Carey, Selena, and Destiny’s Child. The owners were cracking up as we dragged our waiter to sing and dance with us.

Of course we traveled to the Panama Canal, Casco Viejo (Old city), a rain forest, and Taboga Island. We paid about $11 for a ferry ride to the islands and spend the day there. It was beautiful. Clear blue waters. Few tourists. Many locals. We befriended a nice couple from Columbia who wanted pictures with us and an American who retired on the islands.


I highly recommend Panama to any black traveler. Its the Caribbean. Surprisingly, we stood out, not in the touristy way or being black in Russia way. There are Afro-Panamanians, so it was odd to receive a lot of the reactions we did. An older Afro-Panamanian who became our informal tour guide said it was our braids and twists that distinguished us from Afro-Panamanians, although I saw a handful of Afro-Panamanians with micros. The cost of living in low, it is easy to get around by taxi or metro ($0.35 per ride), and the food, the culture, and the people are truly memorable. You will want to know some Spanish, it is the language everyone speaks. Everyone wanted to take a picture with us and catcalling is on a whole nother level here. The main difference between American catcalling and Panamanian catcalling is that if you don’t respond here they leave you alone.

We also went on a tour through a former gang area and “ghettos” of Panama with Fortaleza Tours. I appreciated learning the history of Panama from locals on how the country deals with poverty to the formation of gangs in the city’s former red zone. Our tour guide’s parting words, “Stay black”. Oh he was a character.

I will leave you with pictures and if you have any questions or plan on travelling to Panama soon let me know!


Airplane fun:)


We also met the US Fencing Team and supported them at the fencing match (which they won). Two of them are headed to Rio in a few weeks.


We will return again to visit the western part of the country.

Until the next post,


A Tribute to Queen Mother Moore from Geraldine Wilson

Miss Moore came to be called Queen Mother during a trip to Africa years ago, when a tribe in Ghana awarded her the honorary title. In Africa, as she once put it, “I felt the lash on the backs of my people.”

Her outrage over the suffering of blacks in America led to years of political action. “They not only called us Negroes, they made us Negroes,” she once said, “things that don’t know where they came from and don’t even care that they don’t know. Negro is a state of mind, and they massacred our minds.”

Queen Mother Moore (1898-1997)

On April 20, 1977, Geraldine gave a tribute to Queen Mother Moore in Harlem, New York. From a person who once interviewed Harry Belafonte, befriended Toni Cade Bambara, and worked with Alice Walker in Jackson, Mississippi, it came with little surprised that Geraldine received an invitation to honor Queen Moore. And her speech revealed much about Geraldine’s passion to civil rights and the educational needs of black children.

APRIL 1977

                Queen Mother Moore is legendary in the Black community. Specifically, in places wherever and whenever African peoples come together to struggle for their liberation and/or to theorize, rapturize, politicize, posturize, emphasize, criticize, romanticize, and to revolutionize our struggle, its state of health, and/or its direction—there is Queen Mother Moore.

                I do not consider that I know her personally. She has lived too long, met too many people, fought too many fights to remember me; a person who first knew about the struggle in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where I was born, and who joined the struggle in Mississippi where I worked. In 1965 and 1966, after coming to New York to live from working in Mississippi, I began to learn about the various aspects of the struggle in this, the world’s most famous Black community. It was in Reverend Dempsey’s church on 125th and Park Avenue, along with another legendary woman, Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer. Mrs. Hamer was invited to the church to speak so that she could raise funds for the political campaign among Blacks in her home county in Mississippi, Sunflower. An empty chair separated me from Queen Mother Moore on the left and Mrs. Hamer sat next to me on my right. At one point during the informal program, Queen Mother Moore, wearing the traditional dress in which we are accustomed to seeing her, rose her feet..

                 She would not remember me. That is as it ought to be. It is “meet and right” that I learned from her about the meaning and significance of reparations, why they were owed to Black folk and how staggering was the sum that was owed us. That was the first time I saw her…And so it is that legendary individuals in our communities touch us and have an impact on our lives. We see them, we watch them, we listen to them. And learn from them.  We learn of the importance of revolutionary thought and action. We try to model their courage. They inspire us, we attempt to follow in their footsteps. 

Until the next post,


Geraldine Wilson’s Statement of Purpose


When she applied to graduate school at New York University, Geraldine resided in Jackson, Mississippi where she worked with the state’s Head Start Program. As I researched Geraldine’s biography, I connected with her story, her resilience, and her passion for the education of African American children. It helps that her archival collection at the Schomburg holds 13 boxes of her personal writing and professional papers. One which I believe captures the essence of her spirit is her statement of purpose to graduate school. Geraldine continued her education at NYU as she pursued her Ph.D.; however, she passed away before she completed this degree. Below is her statement of purpose to NYU’s doctorate program in early childhood education.

Statement of Interest

     One of my primary interests is the retraining of teachers, specialists and trainers-of-teachers who work with young children; particularly those who will work in communities where people of color live. Additionally, I am interested in the re-training or adjunct training for those who set policies, do research, develop curriculum, etc. that impact on settings where young children are involved. Much of my energy in the last several years has gone into developing various approaches to training early childhood personnel that can result in their recognition of the strengthening and supporting the cultural base and world-view of children of color and their families. Early childhood personnel, by and large, are subject to the distorted views, perceptions and practices in relation to people of color, learned in the wider society and re-inforced by their professional training. There is profound need for positive and energetic intervention in the imposed process of the curricular harassment of children–however unintentional–in early childhood classrooms. The same or similar process is in operations in settings where the various and particular behaviors of the children are diagnosed and “treatment perscribed [sic]” by clinicial and/or diagnostic specialist. What interests me is the possibility of a different set of descriptions of the children of color and particularly children of African descent in North America. Very specifically those Black children that early childhood professionals come in contact with are African American, Afro-Caribbean, and Afro-Central American. A hopeful assumption is that the research and teaching profession would respond in positive ways to a more accurate set of descriptions of the children, their families, and their behavior. Different approaches to working with children, different curricula and related materials could result/ The present arrangement can only continue to frustrate the teaching and specialist staff, many of whom want very much to do a good job and don’t know how to begin. And a large part of the frustration is because the “tools and instruments” of assessment, the treatment, the incorrect a priori research hypotheses, data and resultant theories are rooted in inaccurate, distorted descriptions of the children and their families.

My beginning doctoral investigations, coupled with long-term observations, reading and talking to people have revealed that Black children grow up in setting that make them different–both actually and qualifiedly –from their research descriptions. Their childhood as African Americans is largely unrecorded, but is characterized by a seeming paradox:

  • cultural and aesthetic response that reflect an Afro-Centric heritage, as well as
  • minimal and/or deficit attention from the behavioral and social sciences
  • caricatured portrayal of their characteristics
  • educational and clincial personnel who do not have the training that would help them to acknowledge the childrearing system that has no parallel in this society

My dissertation is an attempt to detail some of the experiences of children seven/eight years of age and under in the Slave community. Who were they? Culturally? Legally? Who cared for them? How? What kinds of childhood experiences did they have? What childrearing practices obtained ? How can they be described? What was role of culturally continuous African behavior? How can it be described? Who were the adults in the lives of children? How did colonialism function vis-a-vis the rearing of children in the Slave Community? My study spans the years from 1619 to 1860 and in brief summary will be a look at the childrearing setting and the experience of the children in that setting.

I’m fascinated with the idea that through the study of the history of Black children and their families–combined with a knowledge about and the use of African and African-American cultural arts, that one can develop descriptions of Black children that are rooted in their actual experience. What are the implication of this kind of study for developing approaches to understanding the language, the cognitive/problem-solving/intellectual, emotional, spiritual aesthetic and psychological development of Black children? Using many primary sources, I would like to begin to answer those questions in my dissertation and develop a beginning description of the varied faces of Black children.

Another of my primary interests is, the development of training approaches and activities for staff, parents, and children using their “cultural stuff” of their lives as the base for the learning experiences. In addition, I’ve had a long-standing interest in children’s literature, in the thought and “logic” of children’s thoughts, and language development.

I am, though, a teacher; at heart. I love teaching. I had a really nice thing happen to me when I was visiting San Francisco last year. One day I was one of the first of a big crowd to board a bus around 4:00 PM. The bus stop was in a rather well-to-do neighborhood and a big high school was across the street. Two older Black women who appeared to be domestics on their way home, boarded the bus, as well. By the time they got on, I was seated and reading. The women had apparently been involved in conversation. One of the women reached over the man setting next to me, touched my shoulder to get my attention. She said in a declarative way, “You a teacher, ain’t you?” I smiled and said, “Yes ma’am, I am”. She tossed her hand and said to her friend (and everybody else on the bus), “See, I told you, I can tell’em. The ones that are teachers and the ones that like it and the ones that don’t. She one of them that LOVE it. See how she  grins. I learned all I need to know about teachers in Georgia where I grew up.” Don’t know how she knew, but it’s true. I love teaching. That’s my primary interest.

Until the next post,


May 2016

With three semesters of graduate school under my belt,  I finished with a 4.0 GPA (look at God!). Honestly, this past school year was full of many challenges whether it was lack of motivation, regret, family, or extreme exhaustion. Nonetheless, I made it and I also passed my thesis proposal defense.

I neglected this blog due to lack in time management (if I can be honest). Despite the multiple “I am back!”posts, I decided to return to blogging when I finished this semester. After a summer vacation and birthday trip to Panama City, Panama, I will spend the majority of my summer in Harlem at the Schomburg Center and at my alma mater, Messiah College, to conduct research on the Sawyer-Flowers family. If you are new to this blog, please check out my previous posts and ‘About’ page for more information on my research. If you are familiar with my blog, you will notice the new addition to the Flowers research–the Sawyers–which is Rachel’s maternal family line.

In March, I presented on “What Shall I Teach My Children Who Are Black?”: The Intellectual Biography of Geraldine Louise Wilson. The moderator of my section happened to be my adviser. She enjoyed my research and presentation; therefore we both decided to focus on the theme of educational activism in the Sawyers-Flowers family.  It was a huge stress relief because it was difficult to organize a thesis on the entire family’s history. This research begins with the biography of Joseph Sawyer, Rachel’s grandfather, and concludes with the biography of Geraldine Wilson, his great-granddaughter. In between the first and third chapter, Chapter Two focuses on the life of Rachel Flowers, Sawyer’s granddaughter. In this multi-generational family biography, I investigate their work in terms of education activism in the cities of Jacksonville, Florida, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Jackson, Mississippi.

I plan to start this research from scratch. I worked on the Flowers biography since 2012; therefore, I want to approach this research with a fresh set of eyes. My posts will reflect my work, whether it is bibliographies, archival research findings, and posts regarding African American biography, religion, education, and race relations in America. In order to prepare myself for the writing of this thesis, I will utilize Zotero to organize my sources and notes. I also enjoy writing the research on large easel pads, specifically the adhesive ones that sticks onto my walls. I recommend this for anyone conducting genealogy research and who tends to be a visual person.

If you have any tips or insight along the way, please do not hesitate to leave a message below:) Outside of my research, I am simply drawings, reading Du Bois, Ralph Ellison, and Alice Walker, and researching future PhD programs in history and law. All that to say it is good to be back…for the hundredth time!

Until the next post,




Look Out to Look In: The Search for a Living Descendant

Henry Sams 1955

Henry Sams (1915-1975) b. Jacksonville, Florida d. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Half-brother of the Flowers children

Born to Henry Sams and Nancy Sawyer Sams, Henry Sams Jr. spent his childhood in Jacksonville, Florida before his family’s migration to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Throughout his lifetime, he excelled in sports since his time at Overbrook High School. He also participated in pre-Olympic meets in an effort to qualify for the Olympics in the high jump, long jump, and track. His sports accomplishments made the Philadelphia Tribune weekly. After his time in the Pennsylvania National Guard, he set his eyes on a new sport-archery.

“Whether it’s target practice you’re after or the hunt for game, archery’s in a class by itself. Experience drawing a bow and watching an arrow speed through the air, and you can count yourself as one of the thousands still devoted to the sport.”

Henry Sams, “Jack Saunders Says”, Philadelphia Tribune, April 22, 1975


Philadelphia Tribune, 1955

He was the first African American to join the Philadelphia Archery Club and the New Jersey Aldebarans and placed a close second to the international archery crown. Yet, he won the Pennsylvania Archery Tournament, the first African American to capture the Philadelphia crown. He attended multiple colleges and universities, Drexel University, Pennsylvania State University, Chicago State College, and Temple University. He married Eleanor Johnson of Willingboro, New Jersey and together they had one daughter Cathy Sams. Sam and his second wife, Edna Sams were only married for 13 months until his death on February 18, 1975.

As I have found minor leads in my pursuit of a living descendant of the Flowers family, I decided to look outside of this family’s immediate tree and into the life of Edna Sams who passed away in 2004.

Edna Sams’ Obituary

EDNA C. WIGGINS SAMS, age 77, on March 12, 2004, of Media, PA, born Twin Oaks, PA; wife of the late Henry Sams. A graduate of Temple University, where she received a BS and Masters Degree in Education, she taught Reading and English at Chester High School and Cheyney University for 30 years retiring in 1996. She received numerous awards in the field of education; sister of Jesse O. (Naomi) Brooks of Claymont, DE; stepsister of Mary Ellen Davis of Scotland Neck, NC; godmother of Kay Anderson of Media, PA. Funeral Service 11 A.M. Thurs., March 18, 2004 at Murphy A.M.E. Church, 7th & Yarnall Sts., Chester, PA, 9 to 11 A.M. Int. Chester Rural Cemetery, Chester, PA. Contributions may be made to Taylor Hospice, P.O. Box 147, Ridley Park, PA 19078 and Abounding Grace Family Worship Centers. Arr. by CATHERINE B. LAWS FUNERAL HOME, 610-494-6565.

With a quick search, I found the obituary of her brother-in-law Jesse O. Brooks

1936-2015 Jesse O. Brooks, Jr. Mr. Jesse Brooks passed into peace on November 3, 2015 at Crozer Chester Medical Center. He was the son of the late Jesse J. Brooks and Flossie Savoy Brooks. He was born and raised in Chester and attended Chester public schools. Mr. Brooks was formerly employed for many years with Scott Paper Company, now known as Kimberly Clark. He was a former member of Murphy AME Church. He was predeceased by 2 sisters Edna Sams and Vivian Butler. He leaves to cherish fond memories his wife Naomi P. Brooks, children Michael Brooks and Veronica L. Brooks, 2 grandsons Paul and Jeffrey and 1 great granddaughter Mya Nocho, a host of other relatives and friends. Service: Saturday November 7, 2015 at 10:00a.m., Murphy AME Church, 7th & Yarnall Street, Chester, PA. Viewing: 8:00a.m.- 10:00a.m. at the church. Interment: Haven Memorial Cemetery. Arr: Catherine B. Laws Funeral Home – See more at:

The family attended the same church, which I will contact this tomorrow. Hopefully, Naomi and her family still attend and perhaps know the whereabouts of Cathy Sams, the daughter of Henry or even the descendants of the Flowers family. It is a stretch, but an option.

Until the next post,


Guess Who’s Back?


Watching the SuperBowl Game and cheering for the Panthers at the StreetBird (NYC)
Still recovering from the loss.

Last time I posted a blog was a little more than a month ago and how I miss having the time to do research. With work, school, conference prep, and a thesis proposal, I have had my hands full, but I am making time now to do the things I enjoyed. Self-care is important even if it is research (always remember that).

So what has been going on since January.

  1. I am speaking at the African American Intellectual Historical Society Conference in a few weeks on “What Shall I Teach My Children Who are Black?”: An Intellectual Biography of Geraldine Louise Wilson (1931-1981).
  2. I visited my second “home”–the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and my collection was moved offsite. #fail
  3. I paid off some debts. (Now this is important)
  4. I planned a birthday trip to Iceland and Northern Ireland.
  5. I submitted my thesis proposal!!!
  6. I indulged in some Broadway shows–Kinky Boots and THE COLOR PURPLE!
  7. I have become overly invested in all of the political campaign shenanigans.
  8. I made some connections with the Dare family and distant relatives of the Flowers family (more to come).


What is going on with you all? What have I missed?

Until the next post!



Thesis Woes

(A rare glimpse of me on the blog)

As I entered my (second) first semester of graduate school, my goal was to meet with my adviser as soon as possible. I firmly believe that we are an academic “match made in heaven”. We discussed my background, interests, and most importantly my thesis. Since my senior year (undergraduate), it was my goal to finish the Flowers history as my masters thesis and to move forward in a Ph.D. program with a new thesis (which I already have #nerd). With her approval and support, she told me the words I wanted to hear, “You can do this.”I expressed some hesitation in the logistics behind this thesis; however, she assured me that this could if I framed it in the correct format.

I agree, but how?

For over two years, I have been blogging about this family’s history and this has been no easy task. This family touches on a multitude of history-military, education, sports, the rise of the middle class, migration, opera, fashion, religion, etc.. To compile their history in three chapters, each of 25-30 pages, is a daunting task. Whose story do I leave out/whose story do I include? What if it is not good? How would I feel if someone wrote this about my family? This brings me to the bigger question at hand-how do I arrange this thesis?

I am working with the following breakdown:

I. Title Page
II. Genealogical Chart
III. Abstract
III. Intro: Meeting the Flowers
IV. Chapter I
V. Chapter II
VI. Chapter III
VII. Conclusion
VIII. Appendix

Current Possible Themes:

(TOPICALLY) Family history by location—(1) Florida (2) Pennsylvania (3) Mississippi.

(CHRONOLOGICALLY) To be an American, the fight to be an American through education, fighting in war, religion, class, etc.

Time to read some more books.

Until the next post,