Call for Submissions: Carnival of African American Genealogy ~ 3rd Edition They Served With Honor ~ In Memoriam, African-Americans In The Military 1914-1953

4/19/2010 No comments
Somewhere in England, Maj. Charity E. Adams and Capt. Abbie N. Campbell inspect the first contingent of Negro members of the Women's Army Corps assigned to overseas service.' 6888th Central Postal Directory Bn. February 15, 1945. Source: The National Archives: Holt. 111-SC-20079

To serve or not serve? The choice to enlist in the Military has been a bittersweet one for many African-Americans. On one hand, the honor and distinction of fighting for one’s country is alluring. On the other hand, not receiving the respect or full benefit as a citizen of this country is disheartening. Yet in still, many African-American Ancestors willingly accepted the call to serve in the Military. The 3rd Edition of the CoAAG is centered around African-Americans who served in any capacity in the Military from 1914 - 1953. This time frame will include the following wars:

  • World War I (1914 - 1918)
  • World War II (1939 - 1945)
  • Korean War (1950 - 1953)

Is there an African-American veteran that you'd like to recognize? Or, maybe you had a family member who served. What memories do you have of your loved one who was in the service? What branch were they in? Were they awarded any metals or recognitions? Do you recall hearing war stories about them during family get togethers? Write a post in memoriam of your African-American Ancestor and their contribution to the Armed Forces. Some of you may have ancestors who have served during the above-mentioned times of war, but may need to do a little more research. So, here are a few suggestions on where to pick up on your research.

The National Archives

World War II U.S. Navy Armed Guard and World War II U.S. Merchant Marine
(*requires a paid subscription)

What’s that, you say? You don’t have any African-American ancestors who served in the Military, during these times? No problem. We still want to hear from you. Why not write your post about someone you’ve run across in your research? The goal here is just to acknowledge the contribution and sacrifices made. And don’t forget to include a photo if you have one!

How to Submit

We want this to be easy for you, so there are two different ways to submit your post, once you’ve written it.
  • Submit your post on the Submission form located here at the Blog Carnival.
  • Send an email to the CoAAG at Please remember to include your blog name, the post title, and the URL Permalink of your carnival submission. Make sure to put ‘They Served With Honor’ in your email subject line!

Still lost? No worries. See our list of FAQ’s here.

Can’t wait to read all about your Ancestor’s Military Service. Don’t wait until the last moment. The Deadline for Submissions is Wednesday, May 12, 2010.

Jackie Wilson (left) and Ray Robinson have fought two bitterly contested ring encounters. Now it's Sgt. Wilson and Pvt. Robinson in the same Aviation Squadron at Mitchel Field, New York, and they stand shoulder to shoulder--ready for a fight to the death on the Axis. 1943. Source: The National Archives: 208-PU-214B-5

Grandma Don't Take No Mess!

4/11/2010 11 comment(s)
I have been blown away by some of the heartfelt and touching stories coming forth from the Genealogy Community. Stories about sweet, tender, nurturing grandmothers who imparted pearls of wisdom. My post is not like that.

I had the honor of being granddaughter to Para Lee Martin. Grandmother Para Lee, as she was known, was a tough-talking, no-nonsense disciplinarian who did not pal around with her kids, grand kids, or pretty much anyone who was under her care.

Born Para Lee Leonard in Tallahassee, Florida, Grandmother Para Lee married my Grandfather, Robert Lee Martin at the tender age of 14. In my mind’s eye, she birthed each of her nine children during her lunch hour, while still keeping the house in good order and having a hot dinner on the table by 6 o’clock p.m.

Physically, she was beautiful, with flawless sable skin, a figure that rivaled a Coca-Cola bottle, and piercing brown eyes. When I say piercing, I don’t mean that figuratively. If needed, I believed she could have made them come out like appendages, as would a prehistoric Transformer, locking her sights on the object of her wrath.

Don’t be scared. She also had an amicable side. She understood charm and finesse. She was loved by many in both the community and church. She was generous with her time and gifts, sharing with those who had less than she.

Back at home, she led her brood by intimidation. Those under her roof did not challenge her. Defiance could cost you the skin off your backside. Or worse. Being a quick study, I didn’t need the Cliff Notes to learn the storyline of Grandmother Para Lee. Fortunate for me, she seemed to favor me. She told me early on that I reminded her of herself. She could see straight through my angelic facade and pegged me for the sharp-tongued, mischievous, precocious child I was. She often would wink at me, when no one else was looking. That was my secret signal that all was well, for the moment.

Family folklore says she wielded a knife. And on one hot Florida day, I got a chance to see her in action. She told me to come outside to help her clean fish, a task I had seen my own Mother gracefully do many times. But on this day, I saw my Grandmother scale, decapitate, and gut fish in what at the time seemed like a 3-second operation. As she held on to the fish tightly, its eyes, shiny and wide, began to bulge, as if the fish was pleading with me, “You’re just going to stand there?!” Yep, I’m just going to stand here, like a soldier at attention, and bring her another bucket, if she calls for one.

Some of you may not understand this type of woman. Some of you may call her mean. But I lovingly called her Grandmother. She was the Matriarch of our family...and she didn't take no mess!

Para Lee Martin
June 13, 1925 - June 12, 1994

Happy Birthday To Me!

4/10/2010 3 comment(s)

My 1-Year Birthday Party
Every year, at the beginning of April, I put on my running shoes. I begin to prepare for the upcoming game of cat and mouse I play with my Birthday. I run from it. I hide and try to escape from the Tormentor, hoping it will pass me by with as little hoopla as possible. I change the part in my hair hoping to cover a new strand of silver that has prematurely emerged. I won’t use the word hate, but previously I’ve had strong dislike for my Birthday.

On a normal year, I would fall into the habit of using my Birthday as a time to reflect on my life progress, accomplishments and goals. Eventually, this would lead to the overachiever in me becoming frustrated that I had not yet “conquered the world” and then I would spend a week feeling bad for myself that in ’89 I turned left when I should have turned right.

This year, however, I have decided to embrace (somewhat) my Birthday. I still don’t want too much hoopla. However, in the wake of changing times, I see more and more people I know from around the way, or who I went to school with, turning up dead. Some may have been sick. Some have had accidents. Others may have been the victim of a meaningless crime. Some may have had a hand in their own demise. But it instilled in me, a new gratitude to God for allowing me to make it back around for another year.

Yes, I still have not conquered the world. (And at this pace, it does not seem likely) However, I am realizing that sweet time, a gift all in its own, is passing me by. Everyday, I have the opportunity to live and that is something that everyone is not given. As much as it pains the competitor in me, I can’t measure my success against anyone else’s. I have to run my own race at my own pace. And I must say...this new pace is feeling pretty good. So, if you happen to lap me on the track, it’s okay, I’m just pacing myself and enjoying the race, with the realization that some things just can’t be rushed!


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