Tulsa by Hilda Boulware

Tulsa, specifically the black district of Greenwood, one of the most affluent African-American communities in the United States, was also known as “Black Wall Street.” Ottawa W. Gurley was a wealthy African-American landowner from Arkansas. He traveled across the United States to participate in the Oklahoma Land Run of 1889. In 1906 Mr. Gurley purchased 40 acres of land in Tulsa which was “only to be sold to colored.“ With a population of about 10,000 at the time, most businesses were in the small geographical area of Greenwood, Archer, and Pine. There were at least 15 black churches, dozens of Black-owned businesses, movie theaters, skating rinks, hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, dry cleaners, entertainment halls, construction companies, and recreation centers. At least two Black families owned their own airplanes. It was truly a safe and sustaining black community.

On May 31, 1921, Tulsa‘s Black community was the target of a violent attack on by white residents of Tulsa. The attack included deputized citizens, and planes dispatched by law-enforcement to drop bombs on this community. Black Wall Street was destroyed, rendering many of its residents homeless and without their businesses. For many years, all historical reporting, and even talk about the horrific tragedy, was forbidden or hushed. Black people were encouraged to be silent and not retaliate for fear of another government backlash.

My mother’s stepbrothers, James and Abe Yates, lost residences in that massacre —a financial loss that was never recovered.

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A Musical Legacy – By Charlotte Bocage

Charles Leopold Bocage, 1951

My father Charles Joseph Bocage Sr. died when I was almost five years old. We moved from New Orleans to Los Angeles within six months of his death. My mother told me many stories about my father’s family. As I got older, I tried to find out if the stories were true. My genealogical search revealed a lot about my family.

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You Owe Me What was Always Mine

“You owe me what was always mine” is the title of Briayna Cuffie’s latest blog post on reparations4slavery.com. She is speaking to enslavers whose family records, letters, journals, photos, plantation accounts, etc. contain valuable information about the men, women, and children they enslaved.

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Remembering Our Enslaver Ancestors: Which Facts Define Them? A Look at the Differing Viewpoints of the Descendants

In December 2020, Eric Kolenich of the Richmond Times-Dispatch interviewed several descendants of President John Tyler. He was prompted to write about them and their ancestor when John Tyler Community College began to consider changing its name, and his conversations with members of the Tyler family highlight the issue of how descendants of Confederate enslavers choose to regard their ancestor.

What are the salient facts? Tyler stepped into the position of tenth president of the United States for a single term, but later betrayed his country when he was elected to the Confederate Congress in 1862. When he died shortly thereafter, he was buried with a Confederate flag draped across his coffin. Although Tyler led a country founded on the principle of human equality, he was a plantation owner whose wealth was gained from the exploitation of an enslaved workforce. His great-great-granddaughter’s recent research has discovered 46 enslaved people listed in the 1850 census. During his presidential career, Tyler stood up for his own principles and values, and vetoed much legislation. As a result he was thrown out of his political party, was the first president to have a veto overridden, and was the first president to go through an impeachment vote.  

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Healing Historic Harms Through Research — Sharon Leslie Morgan


Sharon Leslie Morgan moved to Noxubee County, Mississippi to research her ancestors’ history. Morgan’s great-great-grandmother, Betty Warfe Gavin, was enslaved there, and gave birth to 17 children. The father of all of them was Robert Louis Gavin, a white man and the nephew of her enslaver.

“My ancestors came from here and fled,” says Morgan. “For me to come back and reclaim memories, experiences, relationships, I think that is going to help with healing the historical harm of slavery.”

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Our Caribbean Kin

“Transcolonial kinship narratives seek to transform exploitative and dehumanizing social relations that characterized the European invasion of the Americas, and Eurocentric understandings of history, knowledge, power, citizenship, and humanity.”
(Reyes-Santos, Our Caribbean Kin, pg. 8, 2015 )

Image: Cover of the text I sit here in Harlem, New York, meditating on the healing potential of bringing “linked descendants” together at the table. I literally share a table right now, with people of all sorts of backgrounds. Some descended from enslaved peoples; others are descendants of enslavers; and most of us are descendants of both. What an ideal place to respond to BitterSweet’s invitation, to share some thoughts about kinship and solidarity based on my recently published book, Our Caribbean Kin: Race and Nation in the Neoliberal Antilles.

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Brattonsville Experience

Story by Quest Whalen, Class of 2019, Tuskegee University, submitted kindness of Dr. Lisa Bratton, Professor, Tuskegee University
Dr. Bratton shared Ms. Whalen’s essay soon after their overnight at Historic Brattonsville on Friday, September 12,

By the Sweat of Our Brows re-enactors

and participation in “By the Sweat of Our Brows,” including a gathering of the black and white descendants of the historic site. 
I asked if it could be published in BitterSweet: Linked Through Slavery, and Ms. Whalen gave her permission. I have done virtually no editing other than adding these notes. 
The first person narrator is Quest Whalen.

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Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation: What is the Furman Legacy?

By Marian Baker, Opinions Editor         Furman University. FU. “Furmie.” Or most commonly, Furman.         These are the names with which we refer to our cherished university. However, many studen…

Source: Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation: What is the Furman Legacy?

Saving Slave Cemeteries

Cemeteries are protected spaces.  But in order for those spaces to be protected, they have to be identified.  Sadly, for many reasons, many slave cemeteries are not identified, and thus, they are particularly vulnerable to destruction.
Coming Feb. 9, 2016Pre-order Now (2)

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Linked Through Stories and History

Today is Giving Tuesday, the day when we turn our focus away from purchasing and toward giving to work that we care about. We hope you will consider a donation to help continue the work of Coming to the Table and Bittersweet so that we can continue to tell these stories and do the work of healing. Make your donation here – http://comingtothetable.org/grow-table/ And thank you.

Linked Through Stories and History
The Slave Quarters at Bracketts Farm

It’s a quiet place, on a quiet road, in a quiet county. A few dozen miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Louisa County, Virginia. Gordonsville. Bracketts Farm.

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