A challenging assignment

After 40 years as a journalist, I recently took on my most challenging assignment—researching and writing about my ancestors. This journey started in 2009 when, while cleaning out my late grandparents home in Tarrytown, N.Y., I happenend upon a box of photos, letters and other documents dating back to the late 1800s. That was followed by the discovery of an amazing family scrapbook stuffed with newspaper articles, church programs and other materials tracing the accomplishments—both individually and collectively—of “negroes and colored people” from the early 1900s through the 1930s.

This article about my great-great grandmother appeared in a Tarrytown, N.Y. newspaper when she was 114 years old. She is voting in the photo.

Thus far, the assignment has taken me to a plantation in Nelson Co., Virginia where my great-great grandmother, Lucy Ann Jackson, was a slave and to a nearby town, Waynesboro, where she purchased property in 1870. My great-great grandmother later moved to New York state where she lived until the ripe age of 114.

My early research has also introduced me to a great grandmother, Addie Wilkins Jackson, who worked closely with Mary Church Terrell, Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells and other well-known female activists in the formation of a national colored women’s association. And a great grandfather, Clarence Jackson, who, in the early 1900s, was the personal assistant to one of the most powerful men in America, the president of New York Central Railroad.

I hope to use this blog to keep friends, family and others abreast of my progress—and to help keep me motivated as I take this journey into my personal history. I hope you will take the time to regularly read my blog—or at least occasionally stop by out of curiosity.


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