Vol. 1 Issue 3
2020: A Year to Remember
By Regennia N. Williams, PhD
Distinguished Scholar of
African American History and Culture

This has definitely been a year to remember. The global pandemic, ongoing protests against police violence, record high unemployment rates, and the presidential election are among the things that Americans will long associate with 2020. Despite the fact that many chapters in the story of our recent past have been painful, some Americans have continued to say yes to history, including the members of the African American Archives Auxiliary (AAAA) of the Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS).  

Just one week after the May 25, 2020, murder of Mr. George Floyd, AAAA joined WRHS in extending an invitation to all who would share their stories of activism, endurance, and hope. Future generations may wonder how narrators found the courage to "fight the good fight" in the face of so much adversity. Ideally, the narratives in the SHARE YOUR STORY digital archive and the stories that AAAA members contributed to this e-publication will help students of history gain a better understanding of the things that uplifted, inspired, and encouraged us in 2020. 

Happy Reading and Happy Holidays!

The President's Message
Retain, Re-Engage, and Recruit:
A Golden Anniversary Message*
By Raymond A. Weeden
President of the African American Archives Auxiliary (AAAA / Quad A)

When I think of Quad A, I think of three things that we really need to focus on over the next couple of years. First, we need to do everything we can to retain all of our members. Even though you may be in North Carolina, you may be on your way to Massachusetts, you may be in California, we are well suited to have an active and engaged auxiliary from wherever we reside. This new era that we are in, where we are meeting electronically, may actually be of benefit to us, to some degree. Even when we come back together physically, when we can actually meet in person, this part will not go away. This part is here for us, so that we can continue our work together. 

The next thing that I would like to invite people to do is re-engage. We have some members that are active; they are paying their dues, and we are happy for that, but we also need them to re-engage. Those of us who may have personal contacts with members who are supporting us but may not be with us today or at other meetings, let’s find ways to ensure that we can re-engage with our active dues paying members—and to re-engage members that were with us in the past.

Finally, the third area that we really need to focus on over the next two years is to recruit. There is a lot of work that Quad A members can be doing to support the museum and to support our archivist Patrice Hamiter. The President can’t do it by him or herself; the First Vice President can’t do it. It is going to take a team, a united team of people like yourselves and others coming together, with great ideas, a lot of energy, and past experience to get it done. So, again, I want to thank Sherlynn Allen-Harris, who has led this group and is now passing the baton to me. She is here for me to learn from and to help us down the road.

We are in this Golden Anniversary of the Archives and then Quad A to retain, re-engage, and recruit, so that we can better serve Quad A and the Western Reserve Historical Society.

*The above message is based on an excerpt from the audio recording of Quad A’s opening meeting on September 19, 2020.
Our Veterans, Our Heroes . . .
In the Shadow of American Victories 
A Reflection by Theresa Ann Bumpers, Daughter of an American Military Veteran
“I can’t help wondering how daddy would feel about taking a knee.”

My father was a hero to his children, but not because he was a World War II soldier. Our father was a hero to my brothers and me, because he was a great storyteller.  

Of course, we were kind of proud of daddy’s sharp shooter’s medal, and I always liked the fact that, having worked as a cook while serving in the army, he later taught me how to peel a tomato with my fingers. 

Even though my brothers, Jack and Jimmy, gave my father’s military experience the old “Bah Humbug!,” Corporal Jack E. Stewart Sr. was very proud that he had served his county. He, therefore, taught all of his children to respect and care for the flag. Every federal holiday, daddy would put the flag up at dawn, and take it down at dusk. Then, my brothers and I would fold it properly and hand it to my father. 
Once, while returning home from a holiday picnic, daddy was driving a little faster than usual. Suddenly, with sirens blaring, a state highway patrolman pulled my father over. He looked into the car, and after seeing my mother, grandmother, and me, tried to give my father great excuses for why he was speeding. First, the patrolman suggested that perhaps my grandmother was sick and needed to be rushed to the hospital. To this, my father said, “No sir.” Then the white patrolman, determined to let my father off the hook, mentioned something about everyone else in the car that might be used as a reasonable explanation for my father’s errant behavior.

Now this was the mid-fifties, when racism was real and almost as blatant here in the North as it was in the South. So, as children, we sat motionless with our hands folded while my father politely rejected the nice patrolman’s version of why he was speeding for the truth - which had everything to do with showing honor and respect for what the flag represented: my father was hurrying home to take the flag down before nightfall. Also, he explained, “It looked like it might rain.” So the patrolman gave my father a knowing nod, and said, “Good night, sir, and drive safely.”  

Obviously, my father really took his role as a veteran and American citizen very seriously. But, in light of today’s current events and public protests about ongoing problems with racism and police brutality, I can’t help wondering how daddy would feel about taking a knee.

IMAGE: Corporal Jack E. Stewart Sr. and Theresa Ann Stewart (nee Bumpers), 1945.
Celebrating Kwanzaa
An Editorial by Beverly Lloyd
Kwanzaa is a deeply meaningful holiday that gives African Americans an opportunity to reunite with family and friends, and pay tribute to our rich cultural heritage. The 2020 Kwanzaa celebration comes at a most fitting time in our history, with the victories of President-elect Joe Biden and Madam Vice President-elect Kamala Harris making a profound statement of our desire for healing, justice, unity, and faith. 

Recent events in the political and social justice arenas are examples of how we upheld/lived out/put into practice the seven principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa: 

UMOJA (Unity) - We came together with others to proclaim that Black Lives Matter. 

KUJICHAGULIA (Self-Determination) - We defined some trouble as “‘good trouble” and determined that we would work to transform our nation and our world.

UJIMA (Collective Work and Responsibility) - Together, we worked the polls and voted at the polls to make a difference. 

UJAMAA (Cooperative Economics) - We supported businesses that supported us. 

NIA (Purpose) - We elected a new President and Vice President with a strong sense of purpose.

KUUMBA (Creativity) - We have worked creatively and thrived in myriad ways during the COVID-19 pandemic.

IMANI (Faith) - We have faith that our fallen brothers and sisters have not died in vain, but we stand firmly on their shoulders with a commitment to a higher calling. 

According to Dr. Maulana Karenga, founder of Kwanzaa in 1966, the core principles of this holiday are a necessary minimum set of principles by which Black people must live in order to begin to rescue and reconstruct our history and lives. 

For more information, please see Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa: Origins, Concepts, Practices. Los Angeles: Kwaida Publications, 1977; and visit the Official Kwanzaa Website.

Beverly Lloyd, CEO of PASS It On MAAT, a non-profit literacy organization, presents hands-on literacy circles in Cleveland, throughout Northeast Ohio, and on Sankofatales@instagram. She has also partnered with the Boys and Girls Club, churches, and community groups. Her BA in English and Psychology from Denison University, M.Ed. from Baldwin Wallace, and acceptance as a doctoral candidate at Kent State University engendered her commitment to literacy and storytelling. Her husband, R. E. Oba Lloyd, earned his M.Ed. from Kent State University and served as a CMSD principal for 27 years. Both Beverly and Oba are lifelong teachers and learners. The Lloyds met Dr. Maulana Karenga, the founder of Kwanzaa, at Case Western Reserve University, and the couple has celebrated Kwanzaa with family and friends since 1987.

IMAGE: Oba and Beverly Lloyd.
The Evidence of Things Seen:
Reactions to the Murder of George Floyd
A Photographic Essay by Stephanie Barron
"These photographs are from the May 30, 2020, George Floyd protest and riot in Downtown Cleveland. I am quite pleased to contribute these images to the African American Archives Auxiliary of the Western Reserve Historical Society, so that we may truly begin to move into the new decade!" - S. Barron

Locations for Images, in Order of Appearance:

  1. Youth March Down Euclid Avenue
  2. Smashed Window on West 6th Street
  3. Flames Roar as Cars Burn in Parking Lot across from West 6th Street
  4. Protest Outside the Justice Center
  5. Grassroots First Aid Area on West 3rd Street
  6. Heinen’s, Geiger’s, and Rise Fitness Decimated on Euclid Avenue
  7. Boarding Up Businesses: The Aftermath on Euclid Avenue
  8. Messages in Response to George Floyd’s Death and Police Brutality on the Free Stamp Sculpture
  9. Protesters, Fort Huntington Park, and Squad Car on Fire on West Lakeside Avenue and West 3rd Street
  10. Protester Standing on an Elevated Surface Outside of the Justice Center
Archival Acquisitions

In November 2020, the Research Library acquired the collection of Dr. A. Grace Lee Mims (1930-2019). Mims was an educator, a librarian, a soprano vocalist, a philanthropist, and an advocate for the arts and humanities. For more than 40 years, she hosted WCLV’s “The Black Arts” radio program. In 1971, she joined 22 other community leaders in co-founding the group that would become the African American Archives Auxiliary of the Western Reserve Historical Society. The collection includes paper documents, sound recordings, photographs, and other items.

IMAGE: An autographed 1952 photograph (“Always, Grace”) from a Hampton Institute scrapbook that is part of the collection.
AAAA will hold bi-monthly general membership meetings on the following dates (Third Saturday of the Month at 12 p.m.)

  • November 21, 2020
  • January 16, 2021
  • March 20, 2021
  • May 15, 2021
  • June 19, 2021 *Annual Meeting and Elections

Membership has its perks! Please consider becoming a member in 2021, our 50th anniversary year! Membership information is available HERE.
Support AAAA
Please consider making a donation to the African American Archives. Your donations to the Booker T. Tall and George L. Forbes Endowments will support the work of the African American Archives Program. You can be confident, therefore, that all contributions to these funds will enhance the work of the Western Reserve Historical Society both now and in the years to come.
Thanks so much for your support!