She got very excited then, and said “CHILD, Cecil had AnnaBelle in a bear hug behind da stove, gitting it ON!”
Thea-Thea said, “Oh Lawd!”
Aunt Cellie flopped down in a kitchen chair and said disgustedly, “He gotta have a burn on his ass, cause he fell back on da stovepipe, as he bent over to pull up his pants!” Thea-Thea covered her mouth and groaned as Aunt Cellie continued.
“AnnaBelle was hysterical. I was apologizing dat I hadn’t knocked ‘stead of busting in,” Aunt Cellie screeched. “But then I got mad—I mean I was ticked! The of ‘em standing there looking like they had done been caught wit they hand in da cookie jar.
“I started in on Cecil. ‘YOU!’ I screamed.
“He ran like a scaled dog. AnnaBelle was standing there trembling…like a wilted flower, begging and pleading for me not to tell, saying she needed to buy some food, and Cecil was her undercover sugar daddy, and he was da way dat she had extra money to buy groceries.
My great-great grandparents, Mack & Caroline Saxon [shown on the book cover], were some of the richest people, black or white, in this region at that time. Not only did they race horses, they owned over a dozen businesses including a fairground, built a Julius Rosenwald school and Mount Carmel AME Church, had sharecroppers and servants, and have a surprising connection to the Kennedy family. What was supposed to be a 25-50 page pamphlet to be given out at reunions about the family history, has become a historical account called Black Blue Bloods — Legacy of an African American Plantation Owner.
African Americans have played an important role in the history of the N&W Railway and NS as well. That role has evolved over time as laws have changed and doors of opportunity have opened. This book endeavors to tell the stories of some of these railroaders, “in their own words,” whose careers spanned the years from Jim Crow to the Civil Rights Movement to today’s institutional diversity programs. Some of the stories are the stories of pioneers who paved the way to today’s more level playing field, and some are the stories of their children and grandchildren who have become the engineers, conductors, and corporate managers, positions that were denied to earlier generations. And, in many cases, in telling their own stories, they tell the stories of their father or grandfather who worked for the railroad and their mother or grandmother who urged them on and supported them. It is a multi-voiced, multi-generational tapestry of voices that tells the story of struggle, resilience, and triumph.
The following is an excerpt from an unrehearsed taped interview with Mrs. Leora Rhodes Brooks Franklin (b. 1920), long time resident of Richmond, KY. The interview was conducted by A.G. Dunston, Assistant Professor of History at Eastern Kentucky University, for the Oral History Center of EKU. Professor Dunston spent several years interviewing the black community […]
The cabin doesn’t look like much. Tucked into a stand of trees and covered in vines, its log walls and stone chimney slightly off-kilter, the neglected building has sat empty for years. But its humble appearance belies a big slice of history: In 1864 it served as the birthplace of Charles Young, an African-American colonel who fought discrimination to build a remarkable military career.
Young, who was born to enslaved parents but grew up free after his family escaped to Ohio and his father served in the Civil War, was just the third African-American to graduate from West Point in 1889. His accomplishments include a stint as a professor in the military sciences department at Wilberforce College in Ohio (where he befriended colleague W.E.B. Du Bois) and service as a member of the legendary Buffalo Soldiers.