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Day 16: Opportunity #SteeleThankful Challenge

Day 16: Opportunity #SteeleThankful Challenge

Seize the opportunity. I’ve heard that a time or two. When opportunity knocks, you better answer. Yep, I’ve heard that before too.

What happens when you don’t jump on the opportunity when it knocks? It usually disappears. But if you are a believer you know that something else will come around that’s even better.

I use this door as a symbol of opportunity showing up at my door. Sometimes I’m the one knocking, and sometimes I’m on the other side of the door.

I’m #SteeleThankful for God allowing opportunities to knock at my door, because I know that it’s orchestrated by Him, and in His timing.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Steele Thankful 2016



The Negros Can Now Vote in Virginia: The Power and Freedom of Voting

The Negros Can Now Vote in Virginia: The Power and Freedom of Voting

I am still attempting to wrap my mind around the #SuperTuesday results that’s occurred in 2016.  The country is divided, and I’m baffled that people are not exercising their right to vote.

I know it’s a choice for you to vote. I guess because I know my history I look at my right to vote as a privilege to do so.  The right to vote was not always accessible to my community, and the road was quite tumultuous getting there.  So, I’m sorry when you tell me that you decided not to vote I’m quickly throwing you the infamous **side eye.**

I’ve probably told you the story before about my grandfather, and how important it was that everyone connected to him exercised their voting rights.

I can remember being a little girl and my grandfather providing each grandchild that turned 18 with the paperwork so they could register to vote. My grandfather was very active in politics and a strong advocate for equal rights.

I would like to dedicate this post to those that strongly believe in exercising that right, and respect the legacy of those individuals that died for our right to vote.

Below you will find photos of the 7 page document of “Colored Negro Men” of Midlothian, Virginia and their Voter Registration Signatures in 1870.

Even though decades later there would be many obstacles to overcome in order for all of us to vote in this country.  I wanted to provide a snapshot of how it began for the Negro Men in Virginia shortly after emancipation.

Please be advised that the voting rights were for men of color, not women.  Women’s right to vote was not until 1920.  That’s right, fifty years after these signed documents were submitted in 1870.

That’s another lesson, for another day!

Negro Voter 1870 Negro Voter VA 1870

The Blueprint: How to Reach for the Moon…

The Blueprint: How to Reach for the Moon…

Dreams can sometimes seem impossible. Or does it only seem impossible because everyone says that it is? As I stated before I’ve heard others attempt to downplay my hopes and dreams but also had to realize you’re not able to share your deepest thoughts with everyone.

This morning I thought about Miss. Barbara Johns, a 16 year old girl from FarmVille, Virginia was the driving force behind the desegregation of the Moton School.  The Moton School was apart of the Brown vs. Board of Education case. I was able to visit the original Moton School in 2012,  but revisited the statue in Richmond to remind myself when things seem impossible, continue to reach for the moon!

Turning 32 on Monday, and clearly defining your dreams to yourself can be scary.  Sometimes you may doubt if what you’re doing is the right thing.  I often wondered if our ancestors felt the same way.  I’m sure there were times when they wanted to throw in the towel.  They didn’t receive the support they may have wanted from their peers.  Or, maybe they were putting themselves in danger to make a way for others, and contemplated if it was worth it.

I thank God for the examples of Barbara Johns, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Marcus Garvey, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth to name a few.  Along this journey of entrepreneurship I wanted to give up, and just say I’m going back to what I know.  Then I’m convicted because I know God put me in this position for a cause that is bigger than me.  I’m going to hang in there, because God is not finished with me yet!

The Mourning After…

The Mourning After…

I spent some wonderful summers in Richmond, VA as an intern.  I learned a great deal, featured in the local newspaper and news station.  It was truly an amazing experience.  #SteeleThankful for it.  I wanted to master the art of reading 19th Century manuscript before I departed my final summer in Virginia.  It wasn’t until I came across primary documents with black borders that I became more intrigued.  My good southern friends would refer to it as, “mourning” stationary/letter.

What is a mourning letter you ask?  A mourning letter in the 19th Century was stationary paper with black borders.  For example, the border would symbolize if the person writing the letter has experienced the loss of a  loved one.  The width of the border depended on the sender’s state of grief and/or the timeline of the passing.  Basically the  current emotional state of the sender.  The letter (featured photo) that was written by Mrs. Jefferson Davis (First Lady of the Confederacy) addressed in August of 1899 shows the presence of the black border.

From research I was reminded of the death of the President’s daughter, Varina “Winnie” Davis in 1898.   In true super sleuth, Archivist mode we are able to piece the story together of how Mrs. Davis was dealing with the grief internally from the width of the borders on her letters, and of course the letter itself.

(Sidenote: Have you thought about why its customary to wear black to funerals?)  There was documentation of a woman who wore black for years after her husband died.  Proof that she grieved for over five years!  Interesting, right?

After during research in the archives and losing my father in 2013, I found myself ironically wearing a lot of black clothing. Well, I still do, for other reasons. Lol.  It didn’t hit me until my  last year of school that I was not allowing myself to grieve.  Similar to the people that were writing with the black borders in the 19th century, and wearing black garments, I had to realize that the void of losing a loved one will always be present.  I must allow the borders of my own stationary paper to become narrow.  People have to go in order for us to grow.  I must continue to grow in strength.  Mind, body, and soul.

Day 29 – “Choices” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Day 29 – “Choices” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day of the challenge (insert sad face here). I chose to post everyday, and I’m happy about the outcome.

Now, I’m ready to talk about “Choices.”  You can choose your destiny.  I’m sure you’ve heard that, over, and over, and over again.  Our life’s journey is based upon the choices that we make.  One choice can change the course of your life forever.

Spending my summers in Virginia was a choice.  I either had to decide to stay in Michigan or go for what ended up being the last summer of the program that I was fortunate to be apart of for two summers in a row.  Without hesitation I made the right choice to be a leader that summer, and became apart of some unbelievable moments such as the one in the photo.

My last summer in Richmond, Virginia, the interns of the Museum of the Confederacy were able to tour the Lewis F. Powell Jr. United States Courthouse. It was pouring down raining but we pressed on!  The court is still being used today so cell phones were not allowed in the building and I’m ashamed to say I didn’t have my digital camera (Still kicking myself).  We were able to go through the entire courthouse including the office of President Jefferson Davis, the court room that President Davis trial took place, and the door and stairs that President Davis exited after the trial.

Yes, you read that correctly, I said trial.  At the end of the Civil War the President of the Confederacy was on trial in the courthouse where I am standing.  He exited these doors.  You know who else was tried here, Mr. Mike Vick, quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  I know you’re probably wondering why am I mentioning these two men.  They were tried in this courthouse over 200 years apart.  It boils down to a choice.  A choice that they made landed them in this place, with someone else making a decision for them that would change the rest of their lives.

I’m not here to reflect on their choices, but I am here to tell you that it’s about a choice.  Our choices, both good and bad effect the course of our life’s journey.  We must also realize that we can be redeemed from our bad choices though.  What are you going to do with that second chance?  I’ve made some bad choices.  I’m sure we’ve all made some bad choices, but how are you going to change the negative into a positive?

You have the opportunity to begin again.  There will be people that will continue to judge you for your bad choices.  SO…WHAT!  Don’t allow them to decide your destiny.  You are in control! You have a choice to make.  As we close out the challenge I ask the same question at the end of my post, right?  Take advantage of your second chance, and continue to strive to make the BEST choice.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

National Archives Month, #AskanArchivist

National Archives Month, #AskanArchivist

Today, kicks off National Archives Month. October is full of awareness and I’m happy to be apart of it all. 

On Twitter you still have time to participate in #AskanArchivist where some of my fellow Archivist are answering questions live about their institution’s collections and exciting events for the month. Don’t miss it. Since it’s throwback Thursday I’m reminiscing about my time as an archives intern in Virginia! 

The three interns stuffed in the backseat exploring the beautiful world of archives.