Home Up Reunion Obituaries Family Histories Descendants Report Oxford Scholarships

 

The Oxford Family Newsletter

www.oxford9.com  

"Look how far  the Lord has brought us!"

 

October  2004         Number 63

 

 

FAMILY REUNION UPDATE

 

Remember this date!!!  August 5, 6, & 7, 2005

The following announcement is from “Brad” and the family reunion organizing committee:

 

The 2005 Oxford Family Reunion will be held on August 5-7 in Albany , Georgia .  The organizing committee is arranging for two meals and a family reunion T-shirt.  The registration fee will cover those items.  The first reunion sponsored meal will be the Saturday evening banquet.  The other reunion sponsored meal will be the Sunday after church dinner.  The other item covered by the registration fee is the reunion T-shirt.  The total registration fee for each person is as follows: Adults - $50; children ages 3-12 - $25; children 2 and  under eat free + $12  only if you want a T-shirt.

 

Money for registration should be sent to McKinley Bradley.  Brad’s address is P.O. Box 518 , Sasser GA 31785.  His phone number is 229-698-5875.  In addition to the registration fee, submit the T-shirt size for each person that is ordering a T-shirt.  The deadline for registration is June 1, 2005 . 

 

The organizing committee has reserved a total of 30 rooms at the Courtyard by Marriott, Albany , Georgia 31707, (229)-889-8015.  When making reservations ask for Karla
Williams and mention the Oxford Family Reunion.  The rates are $84 for kings and doubles.  It is a new motel, scheduled for completion next month.  When they open, our group rate will drop to $75.  You can start making reservations immediately. 

 

Families are asked to call and make their own lodging arrangements.  In order to get reunion rates, reservations must be made before June 15, 2005 .

 

Directions for getting around in the Albany/Dawson/Parrott area and a list of planned activities will be included in future newsletters.  In addition, there will be a “Family Reunion Update” in the www.oxford9.com WEB site.

“Brad”

 

FAMILY TREE REPORT TO BE HANDED OUT AT REUNION

 

The descendants of Mance and Sarah Oxford, Dennis and Rose Shepherd, Alfred and Penny Shepherd, and Bonnie and Emmaline Moon are descendants of a common ancestor.  They are all descendants of Abe and Atline Shepherd.  We have compiled a family tree report that includes over 800 names.  That report will be handed out at the 2005 family reunion.

 

In addition, Mance Oxford had at least two brothers (“Boo”, and Wilkes “Bud”) and four sisters (“Scold”, “Hun”, Ophelia and Ada Williams).  We have compiled family tree reports for the descendants of Wilkes “Bud” Oxford, and Ada Williams.  Moreover, we also have a family tree report for  John Grammason Bryant, who is connected to the family by marriage.  All of those reports will be available at the reunion.

 

We will also use the reunion to fill in the gaps in some of those reports.  In addition, we will interview some of the senior members of our family to prepare “family histories” for our WEB site.

 

DEMETRIUS SMITH HAS NEW POSITION

 

                Demetrius Smith and his family (Shannon, Tyler, and Colby) have relocated to Wichita Kansas .  Demetrius is the son of Cynthia Carter Bulger, and the grandson of Reggie and Naomi Carter.  Demetrius accepted the position of Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, at Wichita State University .  He will also pursue an Ed.D in education leadership with an emphasis in Higher Education Administration.  The university has also offered Demetrius an adjunct faculty position in the Ethnic Studies Department.  He will teach a “Special Issues” course on “African American Males: From the Civil Right Movement to Today.”  We are asking all of our family to keep Demetrius and his family in your prayers.  

 

 

 

MANCE & SARAH ANN OXFORD MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP AWARD

 

      This is to announce that the Mance and Sarah Ann Oxford Scholarship for 2005 is now open for applications.  The scholarship awards, in the amount of $500 each will be made in June, 2005.  The purpose of the award is to encourage and assist high school graduates who are descendants  of Mance and Sarah Ann Oxford. 

 

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

 

1.          Applicant must be a descendant of Mance and Sarah Ann Oxford.

2.          Applicant must be a high school senior who plans to attend college or a trade school following high school graduation.

 

PROCEDURE FOR APPLYING   (!!!! IMPORTANT, PLEASE DO ALL OF THE FOLLOWING !!!!)

 

(Letter of application MUST include the following)

1. Applicant’s name, applicant’s address, phone number, etc.

2. Statement explaining applicant’s relationship to the Oxford clan.

3. Statement explaining applicant’s vocational or professional goals in life, and listing the college or 

    trade school that you plan to attend.

4. A copy of applicant’s high school transcript.

5. The application deadline is May 1, 2005 .

 

APPLICATIONS THAT DO NOT INCLUDE ALL OF THE ABOVE WILL BE INELIGIBLE

 

Send all of the above to:

 

Mance & Sarah Ann Oxford Scholarship

49 Calvert Blvd.

Tonawanda , NY 14150

 

GRADUATE STUDENT AWARDS

 

Oxford descendants who have been accepted, or are enrolled, in a graduate school are eligible for a one time graduate student award of $500.

 

Deadlines for applications are the same as the above.   Applicants should submit a copy of their letter of acceptance to graduate school, or a copy of their most recent grades for graduate courses. Applicants should also explain their education goals and list their major course of study.

 

 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A Review of

Death of Innocence;

The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America

By Mamie Till-Mobley and Christopher Benson

 

Review by Pamela Fordham

 

“We cannot afford the luxury of self-pity.  Our top priority now is to get on with the building process.”

Mamie Till-Mobley

 

Death of Innocence, written by Mamie Till-Mobley and Christopher Benson, details the events surrounding her son, Emmett Till’s, murder.  The book portrays the emotional and political condition of America throughout the Civil Rights Movement era.  Mrs. Till-Mobley puts the murder and the subsequent trial in a greater context, showing the role those events had in inspiring participation, particularly by the younger generation, to the Civil Rights Movement.

 

One of the most evident contrasts of the book is that although it intends to tell “the story of the hate crime that changed America ,” the story is really divided into two parts which depict America before and after Emmett Till’s death.  The first part is a detailed account of the numerous loving relationships that encompassed both Mamie and Emmett’s lives.  The backdrop to the hateful acts of Emmett’s perpetrators is the loving Chicago community in which he grew up – a community filled with friends and family members who understood that those very relationships were the key to their survival.  It was a community of playgrounds, and mud holes filled with rainwater that were just as alluring as wading pools when transformed by youthful imaginations.  It was a community of familial neighbors who waited on their porches at 8:59 each night for their children to return home to meet the 9:00 PM curfew.  It was a time filled with celebrations; one so wonderful that Mamie Till-Mobely described it as a “perfect light that you see sometimes just before darkness falls.”

 

Powerful memories of Mamie and Emmett’s last days together mark the transition of the story’s focus from life in Chicago to the details of the events surrounding Emmett’s death.  Those memories reveal Mamie’s guilt about allowing Emmett to visit Mississippi in spite of her own misgivings.  For days before his trip she tried urgently to help Emmett to understand all the cruel conventions of race relations between southern blacks and whites.  She reminded him of her generation’s Mississippi “cautionary tale”:

“…a black woman who brought her little girl to work with her when she cleaned, cooked, and did laundry for a white family in the South.  The little girl became a playmate of the daughter of this white family.  One day something happened that upset the little white girl and she ran to her daddy as he came down the drive after work.  The man listened to his daughter, then confronted the little black girl, and became so angry with her that he pushed her hard against a tree.  Just slammed her.  Now, that girl’s mother had to finish her day’s work before she could even look after her daughter, who was left there writhing in pain the rest of the day.  Eventually, the little girl died from her injuries” (19).

Emmett was also impressed upon by others who warned him about the differences between Chicago and Mississippi .  One of his cousins even refused to join Emmett on his journey stating, “He couldn’t get past all the things he had heard about the South.  He didn’t want to go.”  Nothing shook Emmett’s excitement and belief that everything would be fine.  In those reflective passages Mamie reveals her understanding that it was impossible to “give a crash course in hatred to a boy who [had] only known love.”

 

On August 20, 1955 Emmett boarded the City of New Orleans train to make his fateful trip to a place very different from the world that had become so familiar to him. Mamie Till-Mobley described Mississippi as a “mirror image of the rest of the world.  Normal at a glance, until you realized it was all completely backward.”  The Mississippi that Emmett visited during the last summer of his life was filled with fear and hatred.  Mississippi politicians were engaged in a concerted effort to intimidate black citizens and keep them from acting on the Supreme Court ruling that “separate was not equal.” In an effort to preserve the racist southern traditions, white politicians went to extreme lengths to prevent blacks from exercising their right to vote or to engage in any activity that might give voice to the idea that the right to vote even existed for blacks. During the election in the previous year in the predominately black Mound Bayou County the ballots had been thrown away.   Mamie recalls the routine “black listing” of potential black voters who often lost their jobs, homes, and even their lives.  She recalls the murder of a black Mississippi farmer, Lamar Smith, who was active in the voter registration movement.  He was killed in broad daylight, but none of the many witnesses could supply any details about his killers.  His death, which was only one of many such deaths, occurred only a few weeks before Emmett arrived in Mississippi .  Although Mamie had done her best to prepare Emmett for the realities of Mississippi life, she states that ironically, she had not done enough to prepare herself. 

 

The details of Emmett’s death evolved over a long period of time and amid much confusion.  The disturbing facts are revealed within the context of Mamie’s suffering, the world’s shock, and the perpetrators “reign of terror.”  The most comprehensive version of the facts reports that Emmett had gone into a local store owned by Roy Bryant.  On that day, his wife Carolyn was working.  Emmett’s friends and cousins who were with him reported hearing Emmett whistle.  It isn’t clear if Emmett was whistling as a joke, or in response to getting “stuck on a word” (he had a stuttering problem), or in response to a move in a checkers game that was being played on the porch.  In any event Carolyn Bryant felt that she had been offended by Emmett and communicated that to her husband.  Her account of the offense would become more embellished over time.  Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, along with several other (including two black men) later abducted Emmett from his uncle’s home and within days his dead and mutilated body was recovered from the Tallihatchie River .  A gin fan was tied around his neck with barbed wire. 

 

The two murderers, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, were given tremendous support, and there was a great effort on the part of their supporters (including politicians, judges and other high ranking law enforcement officials) to distort the facts of the case and further terrorize Emmett’s family and the local black community.  Mamie describes several events following Emmett’s death that exposed the “full measure of human cruelty.”  One such event occurred during the period of time in which Mamie awaited news about the disappearance of her son.  During the first few days she had very little information and had only been told that he had been taken from his uncle’s home by white men.  She had not given up hope that he had somehow gotten away, when she received information that Emmett was coming home.  However, none of the attorneys or police working on the case had received similar information.  This news that gave Mamie a temporary and false sense of relief had been a malicious attempt to deceive. 

 

Mamie Till-Mobley detailed numerous ways racists throughout the country attempted to continue to victimize her and her supporters for years to come.  The details lend support to the fact that the perpetrators were not just the two murderers, but many individuals who acted, so as to justify the growing and collective cruelty.  In fact, Mamie explains in the following passage why she came to view Emmett’s death as a “lynching” as opposed to a murder:

“When it comes to a lynching, it is not just the actual killers who are guilty.  It is the dominant culture, the entire society that permits such a thing, that encourages it.  Bryant and Milam [Emmett’s killers] were not the only guilty parties in the lynching of my son.  Witnesses have pointed to at least six or seven people.  But, in a way, there were so many thousands more.  People who were responsible, powerful, influential.   People who could have chosen to lead, and chose instead to incite.  People who could have condemned hate crimes and chose instead to condone them.  People who could have come clean, and chose instead to live the rest of their lives with blood on their hands” (215).

 

One such event occurred after Emmett’s body was found and identified by his uncle.   Mamie had great difficulty in securing Emmett’s remains because the sheriff of Tallihatchie County attempted to have the body buried in Mississippi as soon as possible; however, efforts on the part of Mamie and her family prevented that from happening.  Yet, when the body did arrive in Chicago , the undertaker had been forced to sign papers preventing him from opening the sealed box that carried Emmett’s body.  Mamie was relentless in spite of her deteriorating emotional state, and eventually convinced the undertaker to let her view her son’s remains. Beyond the appearance of Emmett’s body – the odor, the mutilation, the displaced organs, the bloating – beyond all that lay yet another level to the bottomless depth of inhumanity.  Lime had been poured over his body to speed of the deterioration process and to increase the difficulty of identifying him at all.  Mamie writes, “We just did not have the vocabulary to describe the horror we saw, or the dread we felt in seeing it.  Emmett’s murderers had devised a form of brutality that not only was beyond measure, it was beyond words” (142).

 

Even in the courtroom during the trial of Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam there was a greater attempt to intimidate and mock Emmett’s supporters than there was to make sure that justice prevailed.  The courtroom itself was segregated and such a strong attempt was made to suppress evidence that most of the prosecution’s team, witnesses, and even reporters recognized that by showing up in court, they were literally risking their lives.  Most of those who were empathetic to the prosecution’s case had to stay an hour outside of Tallihatchie County for their own safety, and some of the key witnesses for the prosecution disappeared.  Nevertheless, the cry was heard and supported throughout the world and those seeking justice courageously let their voices be heard.  Well known figures who spoke out in many different and powerful ways against the injustice in Mississippi included, author and Mississippi native, William Falkner; actress, Josephine Baker who led a protest in France; and Congressman Charles Diggs, Medgar Evers, Roy Wilkins, and A. Phillip Randolph who all organized rallies, raised funds and were essential to building the case against Emmett’s killers, 

 

Mamie emphasizes the important role the media played in making sure the world knew about the circumstances of Emmett’s murder.  She describes a defiant moment during the trial when Emmett’s uncle, “Papa Mose,” testified and identified the two killers by pointing them out in the courtroom.  Picture taking in the courtroom had been restricted, but photographer, Ernest Withers, understood the importance of preserving that moment – “…with hope, with patience, and a steady hand,” he secured a visual representation of one of the most importance moments in the life of the Civil Rights Movement.  This single act defied centuries of Mississippi mores and inspired Civil Rights activists for years to come. 

 

In spite of the disappearance of some key witnesses and other such blatant injustices during the trial, the prosecution was able to present a strong case against Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam.  The defense presented ridiculous and inflammatory arguments that were nothing more than an attempt to defame the character of Emmett and his family and justify the murder of a “black boy” who violated the social conventions of the racist south.  One of the defense arguments purported that Emmett’s mother had killed him in order to collect money from an insurance policy.  Another widely accepted claim among the defense supporters was that the body could not be identified as the body of Emmett Till, and therefore no case could be built against the killers who admitted to kidnapping him, but maintained that they had released him while he was still alive.  In the end the juror only considered one factor before acquitting Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam of the murder of Emmett Till.  Mamie states, “The jurors heard one thing that was important to them, and that was a white woman’s claim that a black boy had insulted her.  That was all they needed to know…it was all they would consider in making up their minds.”  The Chicago Sun-Times summarized the events in Mississippi in three words: “shameful, evil wrong.”

 

Speaking in public and sharing Emmett’s story and her pain with others became a source of therapy for Mamie Till-Mobley over time.  Although she had the support of thousands and the comfort of knowing that Emmett death had mobilized the nation toward the pursuit of justice, the attempts to victimize her continued for many years.  There were continuous death threats, and those who pretended to be supporters, but instead used Emmett’s name for financial gain.  Mamie also felt the burden of other’s whose lives had been affected by the trial.  Most of her witnesses and supporters in Mississippi were forced to leave; some suffered tremendous financial losses and some suffered the deterioration of their health. 

 

One of Mamie Till-Mobley’s strengths as a storyteller is her ability to describe the multifaceted characteristics of the people who impacted her life.  She helps the reader to understand their dimensions and intentions.  Although she exposes their human weaknesses and flaws, she always shows their greater significance in the context of all that she experienced and later came to understand.  In her introduction, Mrs. Till – Mobley states the following about facing Emmett’s death:

“It has taken all these years of quiet reflection to recognize the true meaning of my experience, and Emmett’s.  It took quite a while for me to accept how his murder connected to so many things that make us what we are today.  I didn’t see right away, but there was an important mission for me, to shape so many other young minds as a teacher, a messenger, an active church member.  God told me, “I took away one child, but I will give your thousands…”  (xxii)

 

Mamie Till-Mobley died in 2003; however, her mission will continue to be realized through every reader of Death of Innocence.  For those who have their own memories of Emmett Till and their own stories of how the news of his death affected their lives, Mrs. Till-Mobley’s story is perhaps, a balm to the painful realities of the past and a reminder that our historical identity is a part of a great continuum.  As Rev. Jesse Jackson states in the foreword, “Mamie turned a crucifixion into a resurrection.”  Her description of Emmett’s life brings tremendous significance to Emmett’s death and the death of so many others like him – both known and unknown.  For generations of children and young adults for whom the Emmett Till story is simply a paragraph in a history book, Mrs. Till-Mobley’s story is a piercing declaration of the importance of family.

 

The only thing greater than Emmett’s impact on others, was the impact of the prayers, hopes, encouragement, love, chastisement and nurturing of his community in shaping his identity.  Mamie Till-Mobley’s life defies the designations applied to single parents and those who come from impoverished backgrounds by showing the extraordinary way the lives of ordinary people can be affected by love.  Her story brings to life the veracity of the biblical passage that states, Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”  She shares the details of her personal confrontation with America ’s disturbing past in the spirit of love, with the hope that readers will receive it in the same manner. 

 

 

The Oxford Family Newsletter

www.oxford9.com  

July 2004      Number 62

 

MANCE & SARAH OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP, 2004

  The Mance and Sarah Oxford scholarship recipient for 2004 was DeAndrea Denise Hall.  The scholarship winners receive a $500 stipend and a certificate.  DeAndrea is the daughter of Gloria Oxford Hall and the late Johnny Albert Hall, the granddaughter of Ethel Mae Oxford and the late John L. “Jay Bird” Oxford , and the great-granddaughter of the late Jess Oxford.  DeAndrea graduated from Terrell Middle/High School, Dawson , Georgia in May 2004.   

 

Her cumulative grade point average was 80 (B).  Her extra-curricular activities included Future Business Leaders of America (F.B.L.A.), high school band (3 yrs), basketball (6 yrs), softball (6 yrs), cross country, and track.  DeAndrea is a member of Macedonia Baptist Church , Parrott , GA. , where she is a junior usher.

 

After high school graduation, she pans to attend Georgia Southwestern State University .  She plans to major in Early Childhood Education.  Congratulations to DeAndrea.  We will keep her and her family in our prayers.

 

REUNION UPDATE

Remember this date!!!  August 5, 6, & 7, 2005

 

Mckinley Bradley (Brad) has been selected as the coordinator and contact person for next years reunion.  He will work with Gloria Jean Hall and the planning committee, but Brad will be the contact person.  If you want to register or send in registration money, Brad’s address is P.O. Box 518 , Sasser GA 31785.  His phone number is 229-698-5875.  Brad planned our first two reunions back in the 1980s and 90s.  He reports that the planning committee is still working on the planned activities.  They will report on the activities in the next newsletter.

 

There are some deadlines that you should know about.  One is September 30, 2004 .  By that date, you should let Brad know if you plan to attend.  Either call him, or send him a letter.  Whatever method you use, he needs to know by September 30.  He will need to know how many children and adults in your family will be attending.  He will need to know the t-shirt size of each person in your delegation.  The committee is having fundraising activities to help defray the costs.  At this point, there are no solid figures on the costs, but the committee will try to keep the costs as low as possible.  They are shooting for a ballpark figure of $50 - $75 to cover the costs of a banquet dinner, a luncheon, a Sunday farewell dinner, and a reunion T-shirt.  There is no need to send money yet,  there will be more about hotel accommodations, planned activities, etc., in future newsletters.  Remember:  Let Brad know how many from your family plans to attend the reunion.  He also needs to know the T-shirt sizes of each person who plans to attend.  He needs to know by September 30, 2004.  Thanks.

 

RONALD IVERSON      MAY 10, 1955-APRIL 21, 2004

(The following was taken from the funeral program)

 On Wednesday, April 21, 2004 , the Lord called Ronald Iverson home to enter eternal rest.  He was a native of Hartford , Connecticut and the son of Jessie Mae Oxford Iverson and the late Willie L. Iverson, Sr.  [Ronald was the grandson of the late Jess Oxford].

     

Ronald graduated from Hartford High School where he excelled in sports, especially basketball.  He later joined the Hartford , Connecticut Sheriff’s Department where he worked for several years.  In 1988 he moved to the Tidewater area where he met and married Stephanie on May 28, 1988 .  They shared nearly sixteen years of marriage and raised two children (Fanty and Jazz).  He worked as a master car detailer and hoped to open his own shop in the near future, however, his unexpected call home suspended his dream.

     

Ronald, affectionately called “I”, was a fun loving man that never met a stranger.  He truly had the “gift for gab.”  Ronald touched many lives wherever he went.  No matter the amount of time you spent with him, you never forgot his smile and his sense of humor.  He especially bonded with the elderly, and would often say, “when you sit with them you gain wisdom.”  His love of family is what we will remember most about his life.  He was so proud of his nephew Allen Iverson, especially when he was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers into the NBA.  He loved being an “Iverson”, and despite the odds against them, he would say, “Iversons will survive.”  He saw great things for his family and we intend to follow his lead and pursue our dreams until we leave this world.  Don’t cry for “I”, he loved, he lived, and now he lives!

 

Ronald is survived by a loving wife, Stephanie Iverson of Newport News, VA;six children Stefant Boyd, Jasmine Iverson, Dynale Martin, Ronnette McCalop, Colby Iverson, and Tyshawn McIntosh; ten brother/brother-in-laws, Jimmy Ivdrson and Eddie Iverson of North Carolina, Curtis Iverson and Lawrence Iverson of Hartford, CT, Henry Simon, Gregory Pittman, Lawson Breedlove, Daniel Breedlove, Joseph Breedlove, and Martin Dougherty of Newport News, VA; five sisters-in-law, Ann Iverson of North Carolina, Trudy Stephens of Philadelphia, PA..Beverly Simon, Angela Breedlove, and Keisha Breedlove of Newport News , VA ; nine grandchildren and additional family.

 

Ronald’s remains were interred at Green Lawn Cemetery , Hampton , VA.

 

“IVERSONS WILL SURVIVE”

                                                                                                By  Monroe Fordham

As I read the news paper articles and death notices recounting the life of Ronald Iverson, I was especially struck by one quote.  “[Ronald] loved being an Iverson, despite the odds against them he would say, 'Iversons will survive.'”  “Iversons will survive.”  There was an intriguing quality about that quote that raised philosophical questions in my mind.  What would lead a family to conceptualize such a quote?  And why would anyone adopt it as a family tradition?  Such a quote could clearly influence the personal values of those who bought into it.  It would shape the way they approached life and its obstacles.  While different families have phrased the quote differently, the central idea which encompasses perseverance, determination and optimism, has driven the Oxford clan and enabled them to overcome the obstacles of being poor black farmers in early twentieth century southwest Georgia. 

 

The spirit of that quote is what propelled Allen Iverson, one of the smallest men in the NBA, to earn the title of the “NBA’s Most Valuable Player.”  Iverson is often quoted as saying that his “fire and heart” were passed to him from his mother.  The spirit of the quote motivated Razzie Smith, Jr. to rise from a “paper boy” walking the pre-dawn streets of Orlando , Florida with his dogs, to a respected city role model of “perseverance and tough mindedness.”  That same spirit inspired the Carters, the Telafares, and the descendants of Adolphus and Annie Lee Oxford, and countless other families in the Oxford clan to rise above the status of their origins and achieve success that would not even have been imagined by their fore bearers.  The Iversons personalized a legacy that was nurtured in the early 20th century culture of Macedonia Baptist Church of Parrott, Georgia.  It didn’t start there, but it was there.  The legacy of struggle, and perseverance, and determination, optimism and self-confidence was kept alive by many of our family members as they branched out to Connecticut , Florida , New York , Atlanta , and some who remained in southwest Georgia .

 

What is the point here?  “Iversons will survive.”  That quote reflects a value system that can be passed from generation to generation through the sharing of common assumptions.  That is why it so important to write personal and family histories and share them through this newsletter and our family WEB site.  When we write our personal and family histories, we are forced to try to identify and explain the many variables that enabled us to overcome the obstacles and climb the personal mountains of our lives.  By sharing those insights with our family we strengthen each other and enhance our possibilities for success.

 

The Oxford Family Newsletter

www.oxford9.com  

March 2004         Number 61

 

“Missing Pieces”  Jessie Bell Telfair’s Freedom Quilt     Mrs. Jessie Bell “Cousin Sis” Telfair     

             Back in the early 1960s, the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) launched a voter registration campaign in southwest Georgia .  The right to vote became the cornerstone of SNCC’s now famous “Freedom Now!” slogan.  The “Albany Movement”, which was part of that campaign, drew national attention when Dr. Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) entered the fray there in 1963.  One of the persons who answered the SNCC call to register to vote was Jessie Bell “Cousin Sis” Telfair.  She paid a heavy price for taking the courageous step to try and register to vote.  She was fired from her job as a cook at a local school.  After losing her job, “Cousin Sis” took up quilting full time.  Someone from SNCC suggested that she make a “freedom quilt.”  Thus the idea for her now famous “freedom quilt” was born.

                Jessie Bell “Sis” Telfair was born January 1, 1913 in Terrell County , Georgia .  She lived in Terrell County until her death on October 3, 1986 .  She was the daughter of Ada Oxford Williams and Jim Williams.  Ada Oxford Williams was the sister of Mance Oxford.  Jessie’s father was a farmer, carpenter and a basket maker.  Her mother taught her to quilt.  Jessie married Samuel David Telfair and to that union two children were born—Betty Lou Telfair Hall, and Sherai Telfair Small. 

In 1963 Jessie lost her job as a cook at Helen Gurr Elementary School in Parrott , Georgia , when she answered SNCC’s call and attempted to register to vote.  Shortly after losing her job, she was visited by some SNCC students who urged her to make a freedom quilt.  The now famous quilt which resulted from that suggestion has been included in the Bicentennial Exhibition of Georgia Folk Art.  The quilt was titled “Missing Pieces.”  The quilt has been a traveling exhibit for almost 30 years.  It has been displayed at museums around the nation including; the Telfair Academy in Savannah, Georgia; the Atlanta Historical Society; the Columbus Museum of Art and Science, and the Library of Congress.  Her quilt has also been illustrated in numerous books on American Folk Art.  In February, 2004, the quilt was on exhibit in the Folk Art Museum in New York City.

DESCENDANTS OF JESSIE BELL AND DAVID TELFAIR      

We will work with you and your family to develop a descendants report and we will publish your article in a future issue of the Oxford Family Newsletter.  We will also add your article to our “Histories” folder on our WEB site.  Call Monroe Fordham (716-691-4257), or send your information to Fordham@adelphia.net, or 49 Calvert Blvd. , Tonawanda NY 14150 .                

REUNION     UPDATE  

from   McKinley Bradley

                Everything down here at the “ole” home place is going along OK.  The reunion committee has had 5 meetings to date.  Our last meeting was on Saturday, February 21.  We send our love to everyone and hope that your lives are going well.  Our main objective for the Oxford Reunion is to get our family together to share in spiritual, cultural, and entertainment activities.  The Reunion is scheduled for August of 2005.  We urge everyone to begin planning now to be present.  All of the activities will be held in and around the Parrott/Dawson/Albany hub.  We hope that it will be our biggest and best yet. 

 The local Reunion committee is planning numerous fundraising activities to help reduce the costs per person.  That should be especially helpful to families with children.  Some of our planned fundraising activities include (a) raffling off a DVD player, and a $25 gift certificate for gas.  Local families have agreed to pay dues of $5 per month.  We are also planning some other fundraising and family fun type activities.  We ask for your prayers and suggestions.  Thank you in advance for your love and concern

Brad

 

MANCE & SARAH ANN OXFORD   MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP AWARD

 

The Mance and Sarah Ann Oxford Scholarship for 2004 is now open for applications.  The scholarship awards, in the amount of $500 each will be made in June, 2004.  The purpose of the award is to encourage and assist high school graduates who are descendants  of Mance and Sarah Ann Oxford. 

 

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

1.       Applicant must be a descendant of Mance and Sarah Ann Oxford.

2.       Applicant must be a high school senior who plans to at­tend college or a trade school following high school gradua­tion.

PROCEDURE FOR APPLYING   (!!!! IMPORTANT, PLEASE DO ALL OF THE FOLLOWING !!!!)

(Letter of application MUST include the following)

1.       Applicant’s name, applicant’s address, phone number, etc.

2.       Statement explaining applicant’s relationship to the Oxford clan.

    Statement explaining applicant’s vocational or professional goals in life, and listing the college or trade school that   

   you plan to attend.

4.       A copy of applicant’s high school transcript.

5.        The application deadline is May 1, 2004 .

APPLICATIONS THAT DO NOT INCLUDE ALL OF THE ABOVE WILL BE INELIGIBLE

 

Send all of the above to:

 

Mance & Sarah Ann Oxford Scholarship

49 Calvert Blvd.

Tonawanda , NY 14150

 

GRADUTE STUDENT AWARDS

Oxford descendants who have been accepted, or are enrolled, in a graduate school are eligible for a one time graduate

student award of $500.

      

Deadlines for applications are the same as the above.   Applicants should submit a copy of their letter of acceptance to graduate school, or a copy of their most recent grades for graduate courses. Applicants should also explain their

education goals and list their major course of study.

ABRIDGED SPEECH BY DEMETRIUS M. SMITH     

(Son of Cynthia Y. Carter and grandson of Reginald, Sr. and Naomi Carter.)

Greetings blessed descendants of Mance & Sarah Ann Oxford . The following is a speech that I gave for Father’s Day 2003 in Butler , Georgia . I felt that it could possibly serve to inspire and enrich some of you FATHERs in our family.

  As I thought of what I might talk to you about, I had but to look to the guiding light of all Christians--- The Holy Bible. I prayed and asked GOD to place in my heart a message that would permeate your mind, body and soul. A message that fathers would be able to walk out of here and sit down and talk to their sons about. I have two sons and being a proud African American father, I felt a need to speak to the need of African American fathers to play a more visible role in the lives of their SONS. Yet, my message is going to come in a round about way. Therefore, I would ask all my BIBLE readers to journey with me to the 2 Chronicles 20:15-17.

Today, my topic stems from those three verses in 2 Chronicles and a very popular rap song by Bone Crusher entitled, “I Ain’t Never Scared...” How many of you have listened to this song before? It’s a very popular song although it has some explicit lyrics that most people probably take heed to over the deep underlying message that it presents. Bone Crusher talks about being faced with insurmountable obstacles in everyday life but he faces them with no fear. In his words, he “ain’t never scared”.   In 2 Chronicles, Jehoshaphat was a father, in that he was the King of Judah and Jerusalem . Although he was a firm believer in God’s omnipotence, he still questioned what he was to do as he was faced with a vast army coming to destroy he and his people. Yet, Jehoshaphat was not scared either. He went to the person whom he had all faith in--- GOD. And what did God tell him... He said, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” Jehoshaphat wasn’t scared... He did as any good father does... He kept the faith. He showed his SONS how a true and faithful FATHER should behave.

I know that part of being a man is standing up for what one believes, regardless of who else is there with them. Our sons learn more from what we do, than what we say. Our silences are indeed deafening if someone mocks our children, our beliefs, or God, forbid our spouse, and we say nothing. We’ve learned what can happen in a country where we allow others to set agendas.  It’s a crime, and we indeed are co-conspirators when we keep silent by not voicing our opinions.

I know that part of being a man is to value commitment. Statistics connected with successful marriages in this country are dismal.  Nevertheless, it’s not the commitment to marriage that needs our focus.  Our focus as men and as fathers should be toward getting our kids to understand the value of loyalty, the value of keeping our word, the value of sticking it out.  Every marriage that eventually dissolves is more a reflection of how little value we have for realizing the importance of what we are teaching others, rather than what we are going through at the moment.

One of the biggest responsibilities I feel I have as a man is preparing our sons for society.  Many of the rules that are made around the house, I make. Many of the rules around the house that are not made by me, I get to enforce.  I have an important role to stay committed to the role God blessed me with--that is the role of being a father.  For that role, it takes commitment to my faith, my wife, and my sons. To do this, I must commit to stay physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy. This triad is extremely important and made easier by being a committed husband. God took a rib to make Eve so she’d be by his side.  That way he was not alone. And with mom on our side, guys, it’s easier to be a good father--the essence of being a man!

Did you know that 77% of fathers have never eaten lunch with their children at school?  That s what Dr. Ken Canfield, of the National Center for Fathering indicated in a recent survey.  Can you imagine only 23% of the fathers being able to find time to eat lunch with their children?   In the same survey, just 41% indicated they knew their son or daughter s teacher s name.  Only 19% knew who the school counselor was; 32.4% had never attended a school meeting, and 58% had never volunteered at their child s school.

I’m not telling, even suggesting dads re-enroll in school, but I wanted you to know that the more involved you are in your child’s school, the better your child will do, and the better the school will be.  Other researchers have validated that as a fact--when dads get involved in their child s education, the grades go up, the discipline improves, and the overall perception of school gains a tremendous boost knowing dads care! Does it take a rocket scientist to tell any of you dads why?  Do you read to your kids?  One more to add to your list as Dr. Canfield reports, 40% of the dad’s surveyed never read to their children.

After reading this to them, ask what they think it means?  Ask them about being powerful beyond measure, and then ask yourself, dads, did you realize as a man, a husband, and a dad that we are indeed powerful beyond measure?  Did you realize that within us we have a light, and are called to share that light, not only with our children, but also with the world? Many fathers neglect our calling to be leaders at home, at our jobs, or when it comes to involvement in the lives of our children. We forget that if we don t involve ourselves early enough, our kids may not want our involvement later.  If I can survive without someone for years, why should I need that someone only after they realize their lack of fulfillment resulted from their arrogance, irresponsibility, and neglect?  Indeed, why should our kids listen to us if we don t take the time to find out what s important to them?

Being a parent, particularly a dad is a big responsibility, and we can’t shirk from it.  Shirking from this does not, in Mandela’s words "serve the world." It only gives others an opportunity to raise and nurture our children.  No one can raise your kids, or my kids, the way their biological mom and dad can. Mock my work if you like, but those of you who are willing to allow day-care to do the raising are abrogating a responsibility, a pleasure, and an education you'll live to regret.  Read to your kids at least once a week.

In closing, I would like to leave you with a personal quote of a mentor of mine, retired Navy Seal and the first African American to receive this honor, Carl Brashear. Mr. Brashear told me during a recent visit to Kennesaw State University , that “It’s not a SIN to fall down, it’s a SIN not to get up...” It is time for all Father’s to know that falling down is not the end... Cause if you fall on your back, you can look up... And if you can open your eyes, you can look up, and if you can look up, you can reach up, and if you can reach up in FAITH, God will send a brother to help pull you up.  So, Get up my Brothers, Get up... And take your place as the spiritual leaders, teachers and fathers of your families. This is your charge, do you accept the challenge... Don’t answer me, show me... Let’s do it together with our wives at our sides as a team.  Here’s my hand my brothers... Who’s willing to march out in to our communities and show we “ain’t never scared...” God bless and keep each of you... Amen.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

The Oxford Family Newsletter

www.oxford9.com  

January  2004         Number 60

 

FAMILY DAY RALLY AT MACEDONIA

Macedonia Baptist Church

Parrott , Georgia

                Macedonia Baptist Church is opening the new year with a family day rally to raise money for the upkeep of the church.  Members of the Oxford Clan were in the group that founded the church back in the post-slavery era.  Since its beginning, Macedonia has been central to our family’s history.  The names of several members of the Oxford Clan are listed on the cornerstone of the present building.  Macedonia has always been there for our family.  During bad crop years, segregation, and all kinds of other hardships, Macedonia was always a safe haven and a place for replenishing our hope for a better tomorrow  During all of our “Oxford Family Reunions,” the Church has opened its doors to us and have even scheduled special services for our family. All of us owe a debt to the Church that we can never repay.  We can, however, help the church by contributing to the family day rally.  If you want to contribute, make your check or money order payable to Macedonia Baptist Church , and send to Mrs. Essie Bradley, P.O. Box 518 , Sasser GA 31785.  If you know a member of Macedonia , you can also send your check to them.  In any event, support the rally.  Your help will be appreciated.

 

UPDATE FROM REUNION COMMITTEE

 

                The 2003 reunion in Atlanta is now history.  While there, the family members decided to bring the reunion back to Parrott , Georgia .  Dollie Key, Gloria “Jean” Hall , and McKinley Bradley (he planned our first two reunions) have volunteered to serve as coordinators of the reunion with help from other local family members. 

                We are thinking about having the reunion in August 2005, if that is agreeable to everyone.  If you feel strongly about that or some other date, give us some feedback—let us hear from you.  We’ve chosen a theme for the reunion, “Coming home again.”  Like our first two reunions, we are thinking about scheduling events in Parrott, Dawson , and Albany .  We will announce our plans in the family newsletter during the next year and a half.  We will also post regular announcements and updates on our family WEB site (www.oxford9.com).   If you have questions or suggestions feel free to contact the following persons:

 

Dollie O. Key

397 6th Ave.

Dawson , GA 39842

(229) 995-6281

 

Gloria “Jean” Hall

522 Orange St .

Dawson , GA 39842

(229) 995-6281

 

McKinley “Brad” Bradley

P.O. Box 518

Sasser, GA 39885

(229) 698-5875

 

DESCENDANTS REPORT

          We are now able to send family descendants reports as  e-mail attachments.  We have descendants reports for the descendants of Mance and Sarah Oxford.  We also have reports for the descendants of Wilkes Oxford, Johnny Gramason Bryant, Ada and Jim Williams, and Bonnie and Emmaline Moon.  The reports are in PDF format, and to open and read it you will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader.  The Acrobat Reader can be downloaded to your computer, AND IT IS FREE.  To get it downloaded to your computer, go to the Adobe WEB site (www.adobe.com) and follow the instructions for downloading the Acrobat Reader.  Once the Acrobat Reader is on your computer, you should be able to open our descendants reports.  Contact me at Fordham@adelphia.net and let me know which descendants report(s) you want and I will send them to you.  You will note that many of the children born after the mid-1990s are not listed in the reports.  That’s because no one has given me their names.  Once the reports are updated and corrected (where necessary), we will post the descendants reports on our family WEB site.  We will also update them periodically.  All of our young people will have access to their genealogy reports by simply going on the internet.  Millions of families are already using their family WEB sites in that way.

 

 

MANCE & SARAH ANN OXFORD MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP AWARD

 

      This is to announce that the Mance and Sarah Ann Oxford Scholarship for 2004 is now open for applica­tions.  The scholarship awards, in the amount of $500 each will be made in June, 2004.  The purpose of the award is to encourage and assist high school graduates who are descendants  of Mance and Sarah Ann Oxford. 

 

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

 

  • 1.       Applicant must be a descendant of Mance and Sarah Ann Oxford.

  • 2.       Applicant must be a high school senior who plans to at­tend college or a trade school following high school gradua­tion.

 

PROCEDURE FOR APPLYING (!!!! IMPORTANT, PLEASE DO ALL OF THE FOLLOWING !!!!)

(Letter of application MUST include the following)

1.       Applicant’s name, applicant’s address, phone number, etc.

2.       Statement explaining applicant’s relationship to the Oxford clan.

3.       Statement explaining applicant’s vocational or professional goals in life, and listing the college or trade school that you plan to attend.

4.       A copy of applicant’s high school transcript.

5.        The application deadline is May 1, 2004 .

APPLICATIONS THAT DO NOT INCLUDE ALL OF THE ABOVE WILL BE INELIGIBLE

Send all of the above to:

Mance & Sarah Ann Oxford Scholarship

49 Calvert Blvd.

Tonawanda , NY 14150

GRADUATE STUDENT AWARDS

  Oxford descendants who have been accepted, or are enrolled, in a graduate school are eligible for a one time graduate

student award of $500.

  Deadlines for applications are the same as the above.   Applicants should submit a copy of their letter of acceptance to graduate school, or a copy of their most recent grades for graduate courses. Applicants should also explain their education goals and list their major course of study.

 

A SURVIVAL LESSON

 

                Never allow the primary focus of your attention to be on your present circumstance.  Whether your present situation is good or bad, it doesn’t matter.  Be mindful of the present, but never allow it to dominate your thinking.

                If you are at the top of the heap, don’t become satisfied and content with being on top.  If the main focus of your attention is to enjoy the perks and status of that position, you won’t be on top for very long.

                On the other hand, if you are “down and out”, and become jealous and envious of other people, and become bitter and disgruntle, you will miss seeing the many opportunities to better yourself.

                Whether your present situation is up or down, don’t take your present situation too seriously.  Always think ahead.  Ask yourself, “where do I want to be two, three, five years from now?”  Once you have settled on your answer, make a list of the things that you will need to do to get there.  The things that you need to do to get where you want to be should be the primary focus of your mind and energy.

`

Monroe Fordham

 

ODE TO THE RAG

RoseMary Oxford Rucker

Not so long ago, African sisters, we were told,

cover that nappy mess.

You ought to be ashamed of that stuff,

because you don’t have pretty hair like the rest

of the sisters from the other track side,

so our kinky hair we did hide.

 

Our mighty God heard our cries –

and upon receiving the vision

Madame C.J. Walker said,

“Look what I have discovered about the hair on my head,

with heat my stuff is straight, with water it rolls up under its curls.

So we say now, step back, to all the other girls!

 

I know deep in your hearts my “blue eyed” sisters

you still want to impart,

these words to us “brown eyed” girls, don’t remove the rag,

for we are jealous of the magic underneath that rag.

But the rag is never used again to hide,

this beautiful versatile hair God gave, we will style with pride.

 

No more tears, no more shame

for rising high is our aim.

The rag is back to its place of origin of loyalty

to crown our locks with royalty

 

Thank you Lordy, thank you Sir!

July, 1994

 

 

AROUND AND ABOUT

 

                RoseMary Oxford-Rucker (daughter of the late Otis Oxford and Rose Oxford) reports that the latest edition to her family is a granddaughter, Sarah Renee Rucker, who is the first offspring of her son—Harry Douglass Rucker, II and Ida Coston.  Congratulations to the Rucker family.

 

                Dorothy Telafare (wife of Curtis Telafare) reports that the latest edition to their family is a grandson, Napoleon Meadors, VI.  Little Napoleon is the son of Tiffany Thornton and Napoleon Meadors, V.  Tiffany is a teacher and is pursuing her Masters Degree at a college in Cambridge , Mass.  Two of Dorothy’s other grandchildren, Carmen and Marshall are high school students (a senior and junior respectively).  Carmen, Marshall, and Tiffany are the children of Jan Baquet (daughter of Curtis and Dorothy Telafare).

 

HISTORICAL FOOTNOTES

Monroe Fordham

 

                According to my birth certificate, Mrs. Molly Darns was the mid-wife that attended my mother during my birth.  I remember my grandmother mentioning her name many times during my youth.  Mrs. Darns was well known as a mid-wife.  Her daughter, Mrs. Johnny Mae Darns Oxford, was married to my Uncle “Jess.”  Mrs. Darns’ gravesite is in the Macedonia Church Cemetery .  I remember seeing it many times while walking through the cemetery as a youngster searching for goose berries.

 

FAMILY HISTORIES

 

                The children and grandchildren of Arcolia “Teck” Myers compiled the following historical tribute to their mother and grandmother.  What a wonderful tribute to “Teck.”  This is the kind of “family history” that we’ve been urging other family members to prepare for their aging relatives.  You can write your own narrative, or just answer the questions that we published in an earlier issue of the newsletter, and we will prepare the narrative.  We’ve got most of the information for the descendants report in our computer data base already.  You may have to update it by sending the names, birthdates, and parents names of all children born in the last five years.  The children and grandchildren of other aging relatives should get their heads together and compile historical information on your parents or grandparents.  We will publish it in the newsletter and on our family WEB site.

 

ARCOLIA “TECK” OXFORD MYERS  

              Arcolia “Teck” Myers was born on May 5, 1924 in Sumter County , Georgia .  Her father’s name was Jess Oxford and her mother was Johnnie Mae Darns.  She had five siblings—Thelma “Tip”, Jessie Mae “Sister”, Mary Ann, Sam (deceased), and John L. “Jay” (deceased).  She was the granddaughter of Mance and Sarah Ann Oxford.  “Teck” attended the Terrell County Colored school.  

                Her mother died of pneumonia after giving birth to her younger sister, Mary Ann.  After her mother died, her father married Essie Mae Gadsen.  Her sisters, Jessie Mae and Mary Ann were raised by their grandmother, Molly Darns.  The other children were raised by Jess and Essie Mae Gadsen Oxford.  The Jess Oxford family were sharecroppers in Parrott , GA.   (After the death of his second wife, Jess moved to Altamont Springs FL.   He died in 1971 at age 74).  For most of her life, “Teck” worked as a farmer’s wife.  She is a member of Macedonia Baptist Church .  Her first child, whose father was Napoleon Gadsen, was born prior to her marriage to Love Myers II.  “Teck” is the mother of 9 children, 31 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.  “Teck” is currently very ill (has Alzheimer’s) and lives with her daughter’s family in Sasser, GA. Her descendants are listed below.

 

DESCENDANTS OF ARCOLIA “TECK” MYERS     

 

 

MRS. JANIE MAE JEFFERSON DOZIER

March 11, 22 –March 31, 2004  

                Janie Jefferson Dozier was born March 11, 1922 to Julius and Carrie Mae Jefferson in Terrell County , Georgia .  She had one sister, Frankie Jefferson (predeceased her) and a brother, James Lloyd.

                At an early age the family moved to Jacksonville , Florida where she received her education  As a youngster, she joined Beulah Baptist Church .  In later years she joined Emmanuel Baptist Church , Reverend Solomon L. Badger was the pastor.  She met and married Mr. Clarence E. Dozier.  They were married for 54 years.

                She leaves to cherish her memory, a loving and devoted husband, Clarence E. Dozier; a brother, James Lloyd; three nieces, Jacquelin Stewart, Norma (Willie) Roberts, Natasha McKeiver; three nephews, Ronald L. Baker, Darryl (Beverly) Lloyd, and Elvin (Dorothy) Mitchell; many cousins, including Bertha (Earle) Richardson, Evelyn Johnson, Dorothy Murray, Angela Brown, Gwendolyn (Archie) Gibbs, Etta M. Edwards, Annette (Frank) James, Edward (Lillie) Smith; manyfriends, including those in Moncks Corner, South Carolina.  Funeral services were held at Northside Chapel, Marion Graham Mortuaries, Jacksonville , Florida .  Interment Rest Lawn Memorial Park.  

 

INTERESTING FAMILY HISTORY NOTES

  Alfred and Dennis Shepherd, Sarah Ann Shepherd Oxford’s brothers, married two sisters—Penny and Rosa Grady.  Descendants of Alfred and Dennis Shepherd have been in communication with us.  They found us through our WEB site.  Some of their descendants are listed in our obituary folder.  They have been invited to our reunion next year.  Our common ancestors are Abe and Atline Shepherd, the mother and father of Sarah Ann Shepherd Oxford.