Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sepia Saturday

African American soldiers during WW1, circa 1916

I was excited when I read that this week's photo represented veterans.  As a veteran who professionally works with combat veterans everyday, I get excited when they are celebrated.  The names of the soldiers in this photo are unknown but their heroism and bravery does not go unnoticed.  During World War 1, more than 200,000 African American soldiers fought with the American Expeditionary Force in France.  The military was a segregated branch at that time, so many African American soldiers fought alongside the French Army and not their white American counterparts.  Most African American soldiers could not fight on the battle field instead they served in support roles.  By the end of the war, 171 African Americans received the French Legion of Honor for their heroism and bravery.

Please visit Sepia Saturday to view the other amazing posts on WW1

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fannie Herring's Legacy ~

Storyline:  I grew up knowing that my maternal great-grandmother was a midwife.  Although her story excited me, it was way more exciting to tell it.

Her brown-skin belly was swollen like a vertical watermelon.  This was her third time being with child.  She was having strong pains and could feel the discomfort way down in her back.  She had spent the last few hours like this so she knew it was almost time to give birth.  As she tried really hard not to push, she wondered if the midwife would get there before the baby arrived.  The midwife opened the door and walked quickly toward her bedside.  Aunt Fannie was a short stout dark-skin woman with gray eyes.  Eyes the color of hot coals and the kind you see on old folks.  You could see her thick gray hair peeking through her tattered head wrap and she wore an old discolored striped shift-dress that had its own history.

It was January 16, 1915, and Aunt Fannie was more than 80 years old now.  Her body was beginning to wear down but she loved her work and never missed a birthing.  She wasn’t classically trained.  She had learned midwifery helping to deliver babies in the slave quarters.  She was known by the town’s people as the most trusted midwife in Barbour County, Alabama.  At a time when the races were segregated in the south, she had delivered all the black and white babies in the county since she was 22 years old.  Everyone knew she had a passion for bringing life into the world and that is why the town’s people called her God’s assistant.

Aunt Fannie’s first words to the mother were, “Are you ready honey?  We bout’ to bring this baby into the world.”  The mother looked up at Fannie with sweat pouring down her face and wishing that this was already over.  At that moment, she knew that they were equally matched contenders.  “Yes ma’am Aunt Fannie.  I’m ready,” she said as she scooted her bottom toward the end of the bed preparing to give birth.