7 more photos of black Victorians who prove that history is not as white as people think.

Back in late October, I wrote a story about 17 photos of black Victorians who showed how history really looked.

I scoured various online archives, historical records, and so forth to dig up what I could about the subjects of these stunning photographs, which I hoped would challenge people's historical perceptions of race, fashion, and social norms.

The reader response was tremendous.

Hundreds of thousands of people read and shared the story. People love to warn you not to read the comments (and sometimes rightly so), but in this case, the comments were downright inspiring.


The most remarkable comments came from readers who shared photos and stories of their own relatives who lived through that same era.

Today, I'd like to introduce you to some of those folks.

Photo via Ruth Cadenhead, used with permission.

1. Isabelle Norris's great-grandparents emigrated from Africa to the United States by way of Haiti.

Her great-grandmother came from Guinea while her great-grandfather was Egyptian. They encountered many obstacles on their journey, but they made it after all. To this day, their descendants maintain strong familial roots across the U.S., the Caribbean, and Europe.

Photo via Isabella Norris, used with permission.

"I hesitated before posting [this photo], and I was pleased to see that there were only positive responses," Norris said, "I find the idea of sharing part of our history interesting in that it could maybe help solve some of the mystery surrounding it and others involved in it, who knows?"

2. Rev. Cicero Chambers was born a slave in Texas and worked tirelessly to free himself and his wife, Jerlene.

According to his great-great-granddaughter Kim Guillaume, Chambers served for 22 years as moderator of the Cypress Baptist Association and helped to found several Baptist churches across eastern Texas as well as the historically black Bishop College, originally located in Marshall, Texas.

Photo via Kimberly Guillaume, used with permission.

3. Andria Thomas has researched her family all the way back to 1825, including her great-great grandmother, Linny Ellis Roberts.

Roberts was born in Colorado in the late 1800s and attended the historically black Oakwood College in Alabama. In fact, her descendants still have copies of all her notes from school. Her father owned a farm in New Mexico, and Roberts herself later owned and operated a grocery store along with her husband, Fred Douglas Roberts.

Photo via Andria Thomas, used with permission.

"Most of this ancestral line I have researched lived in the deep South, specifically Tennessee and Georgia," Thomas added about her family history. "In the census, they were recorded as either mulatto or black, but they almost always owned their property free and clear. Their neighbors were also mostly white. Not only that, but they were all literate, even though some of them were born before slavery ended."

Thomas also admitted that it was hard to know the exact context of her ancestors' lives. Still, the records she found were further evidence of the other untold stories of black lives throughout U.S. history.

4. Angela Brazil's family research led to the discovery of her oldest living relative, her great-great-grandmother Elizabeth Curry.

Brazil's journey into her ancestry took her on an actual trip from St. Louis, Missouri, to Cleveland, Ohio, where she had the opportunity to meet members of her family that she didn't even know existed until then.

In the photo, Curry's hair is wrapped in an updo, but according to family lore, Brazil's great-great-grandmother's beautiful locks fell all the way down to the floor.

Photo via Angela Brazil, used with permission.

5. Amy Noel Longmire shared a photo of her great-great grandma, Louise Burroughs Grandison of West Virginia, born in 1860.

According to family lore, Great-Great Grandma Grandison was an excellent seamstress, and the outfit she's wearing in the photograph was made entirely by her own hands. Her second-born son, Dr. Joseph Meredith Grandison, was one of the first black doctors in the state of West Virginia.

Photo via Amy Noel Longmire, used with permission.

"I wonder how perceptions inside and outside our culture would have changed if the narrative was more robust (and accurate) than poverty, slavery, and civil rights?" Longmire said about her dive into her family history. "We owned businesses, held advanced degrees, and succeeded in the face of real tyranny. Ours is a story of more than survival, but one of success. To see these stories ignored is frustrating."

Remarkably, after sharing the photo on Facebook, Longmire ended up connecting with another commenter who was also a Grandison from West Virginia, and the two are now trying to figure out if they're related.

6. Booker T. Brooks was born in Jackson County, Tennessee, in 1864.

His great-great-great-granddaughter Sarah Mason shared that he married a woman named Daisy Chappin and passed away in the same county around the turn of the century. There was little else known about him — but he sure knew how to dress.

Photo via Sarah Mason, used with permission.

Why did these photos resonate with all of us so much? Because the truth has been erased from history for far too long, and these people deserve to be a part of the narrative.

As one commenter so perfectly put it, "I'm standing in the Union Square subway station in NYC bawling my eyes out. This world has tried so hard to erase us from existence — hide our accomplishments, sweep our ancestors into closets, pretend we've only been slaves and maids. Those people lived life! I'm living life!"

That's the power of seeing yourself reflected in stories, in history, and in the world around you. What else is there to say?

via wakaflockafloccar / TikTok

It's amazing to consider just how quickly the world has changed over the past 11 months. If you were to have told someone in February 2020 that the entire country would be on some form of lockdown, nearly everyone would be wearing a mask, and half a million people were going to die due to a virus, no one would have believed you.

Yet, here we are.

PPE masks were the last thing on Leah Holland of Georgetown, Kentucky's mind on March 4, 2020, when she got a tattoo inspired by the words of a close friend.

Keep Reading Show less
Courtesy of Creative Commons
True

After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

Keep Reading Show less
Dr. Who / YouTube

It's incredible to imagine that Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime. "The Red Vineyard" sold in Brussels a few months before his death for just 400 Francs.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo: Canva

We're nearly a year into the pandemic, and what a year it has been. We've gone through the struggles of shutdowns, the trauma of mass death, the seemingly fleeting "We're all in this together" phase, the mind-boggling denial and deluge of misinformation, the constantly frustrating uncertainty, and the ongoing question of when we're going to get to resume some sense of normalcy.

It's been a lot. It's been emotionally and mentally exhausting. And at this point, many of us have hit a wall of pandemic fatigue that's hard to describe. We're just done with all of it, but we know we still have to keep going.

Poet Donna Ashworth has put this "done" feeling into words that are resonating with so many of us. While it seems like we should want to talk to people we love more than ever right now, we've sort of lost the will to socialize pandemically. We're tired of Zoom calls. Getting together masked and socially distanced is doable—we've been doing it—but it sucks. In the wintry north (and recently south) the weather is too crappy to get together outside. So many of us have just gone quiet.

If that sounds like you, you're not alone. As Ashworth wrote:

Keep Reading Show less