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?

Most Shared
Courtesy of Houseplant.

In America, one dumb mistake can hang over your head forever.

Nearly 30% of the American adult population — about 70 million people — have at least one criminal conviction that can prevent them from being treated equally when it comes to everything from job and housing opportunities to child custody.

Twenty million of these Americans have felony convictions that can destroy their chances of making a comfortable living and prevents them from voting out the lawmakers who imprisoned them.

Many of these convictions are drug-related and stem from the War on Drugs that began in the U.S. '80s. This war has unfairly targeted the minority community, especially African-Americans.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular