Thursday, January 30, 2014

Real Taste of NOLA with Chef Bergeron A Native of Amite, Louisiana

Chef Bergeron was born to Catherine Harrell and George Cheree' Bergeron in 1973 in New Orleans, LA., he came from a large family, seven girls and seven boys. His mother wanted to remove her sons from the violent streets of New Orleans by returning back to her hometown of Amite, Louisiana., where she knew her sons would be safe.

She passed away within the first six month. "I returned back to New Orleans," said Bergeron. My siblings went their separate ways and had their own families to raise. Bergeron said that he found  family in the streets. I did things that I am not proud of to this day. Life was hard on the streets "I played the hand that was dealt to me,"said Bergeron.

Like most of the African American men in the United States, Bergeron had a dream, a dream of becoming successful. Bergeron father was a chef, he decided to spend as much time as he could with his father to learn all about the art of creole cooking. Creole cooking is a part of Bergeron's heritage. On my maternal side of the family no one couldn't tell him that his mother Catherine wasn't the best cook in the State of Louisiana. The legacy of cooking was given to Chef Bergeron by both of his parents.

A man of many skills and talents, before following his dream of becoming a chef after abandoning the street life, he started his own plumbing and heating company. Although he mastered the skills he wasn't content because his hopes and dreams of becoming a chef was calling him. He shut his business down and moved to South Florida to be with his girlfriend.  After proposing to her and getting married with her support, he enrolled in a culinary arts program at one of the local colleges
where he  received by A.S. degree in culinary science.

Bergeron hosted many parties and events that displayed his culinary skills and good cooking. Presently he is working on his first book is be released this fall with some of his tasty recipes. He opened his first restaurant in Tampa, Florida called the "The Real Taste of New Orleans," he is also the owner of Bergeron's Catering and Vending company.

His plans for the future is to start a multiple sclerosis foundation for help others who has been diagnose with this disease. Bergeron was recently diagnose with the disease himself. He's grateful to God for all the many blessings he has blessed him with.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Black History Month " Civil Rights in Tangipahoa & St.Helena Parishes"

Jo-Ann Lewis Frazier
Pioneer for change in Amite, La.
Before I can actually think about "Civil Rights in America" I must first think about "Civil Rights in Tangipahoa Parish." Chronicling the important milestones by African Americans in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. This past August, we commemorated the 50th anniversary March on Washington, D.C., It was pioneers like Jo-Ann Lewis Frazier,  Adam Gordon, Deloris Harrell-Washington, Dr. Willard Vernon, and Kingsley Garrison who stood up against the forces of hatred and racism. 

They protest for change in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. But somehow I think we have forgot about that part of our history. I am a child from the 60s and can remember segregation and the conversation about the lynchings, KKK, and other racism acts against people of color. 

On, 23 August 1967, After the march, A.Z Young president of the Bogalusa Civic and Voters League announced plans for a second march. The first march, a 10 day trek from Bogalusa to Baton Rouge to present a petition of grievances to Governor John McKeithen supposedly drew over 500 participants.
source: 23 August 1967 p. 10-A, no byline

The 1953 bus boycott in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Baton Rouge was the site of the first successful bus boycott of the 1950s. This event became a blueprint for the more publicized boycott to take place two years later in Montgomery, Alabama, and it set the stage for desegregation in the Deep South.

This month everyone should reflected on a family member, neighbor, community leader who fought and stood up for change. This month I chose to celebrate family members who had the courage to make a difference and change the course of history.
Jim Crow Segregated Water Fountains

Just how many people in Tangipahoa and St. Helena Parishes know that in 1963, what was suppose be a summer project to register blacks voters in Iberville, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, Tangipahoa and East and West Feliciana parishes turned into something that would change the voting history for African Americans. More than 300 people was jailed, most of them were teenagers. 20 Children was injured during this demonstration. 

Yet, we forgot about the moments and time in our history, we soon forget about the struggles of our ancestors and family members who experience the Jim Crow south. We forgot about the strange fruit hanging for the trees that whispered during the night. We forgot about the times that we couldn't walk on the sidewalks in town. These are history lessons that can help us better shape our presence and future, if we only take a moment to remember. 

Tangipahoa African-American News

Sharecroppers Contracts or Lease Agreements

My great grandfather Robert Harrell was determined not to spend his life working as a sharecropper or tenant farmer. He and his son Alexander Harrell purchased two hundred acres of land in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, to farm and work their own land. I often heard some of the elderly people in our communities talking about horror stories associated with tenant farming. Some said that you couldn't get out of debt no matter how hard you worked. At the end of the year you still owed the landlord.

I researched the "Freedmen Contracts" in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and found contracts of many newly freed slaves who signed the contracts my making their mark (x) to work on plantations in exchange for shelter, clothes, tools and money. In many cases tenant farmer didn't received what they were promised according to the contract. "Children as young as five years old made their mark bonding themselves to an agreement that they couldn't read or understand just like their parents and other newly freed slaves on the plantation who signed the contract."

Many had no idea that they was entering into a new form of slavery called peonage and involuntary servitude. A new system of credit was created and some of your family members had to borrow against the crops. Crop liens was a system equal to that of sharecropping.
Freedmen Bureau Contract/Yazoo, Mississippi

Crop Lien of Jasper and Emma Harrell
My grandfather Jasper Harrell, Sr., and his mother Emma Mead Harrell borrow $110.00 dollars from Amite Strawberry Company 1938 against their crops, using their land to secure the loan. They worked hard to repay the loan to keep from losing the family land. My great uncle Palmer Harrell couldn't say the same. He borrowed some money to purchase a mule and was told that he defaulted on his loan, he lost his land. This wasn't unusual for many blacks and white who was cheated out of their land and money.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

2 Mississippi Museums in Jackson, Mississippi Opening 2017

The site of the 2 Mississippi Museums
Photo Credit: Walter C. Black, Sr.
After attending a morning meeting, my colleague Walter C. Black, Sr., and I decided to go over to the Mississippi State Archives to conducted genealogy research, we soon learned that the Department of Archives and History is overseeing construction of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Mississippi History. The doors will open in 2017.

 I wanted to research the sharecropping period dating back to 1866. We looked at plantation records, bill of sales, and rent receipts. Although my family left Amite, County, Mississippi and moved over to East Feliciana Parish in Louisiana. Part of me is still connected to the State of Mississippi. Governor Phil Bryant and other elected officials, civil rights leader Myrlie Evers and other movement veterans, educators, and volunteers from across the state lifted shovel on Thursday, Oct 24 to break ground on the 2 Mississippi Museums projects.

The Museum of Mississippi History will tell the story of the state from prehistory to current today. The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum will be the nation's first state-sponsored civil right museum. I am very excited for the opening of both of the museums.

To learn more about the upcoming museums, please visit the website below.

The Civil Rights Movement in the East Florida Parishes

When addressing the matters of Civil Rights, is it paramount that certain assumptions are inherent. "That assumption is that all men be created equal." With is this in mind, one must measure how important it was to leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr., to advocate for people who were denied human and civil rights. Local civil right leaders such A.Z Young, Pat Morris, Rev. Willard Vernon, Kingsley Garrison, etc. 

Today we are still struggling with some high levels of poverty in many communities across the United States. According to The Washington Post, the long term unemployment rate has not been as high as it is now since World War II. 4 million Americans have been out of work for 27 weeks are longer.

In Tangiphaoa Parish there are few black owned businesses in the entire parish.  According to the Tangipahoa Parish QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau. African-American alone, 2013 (a) make up 32.4% population. The total number of firms in 2007,  African-American owned firms in 2007 15.9. The Median Household Income is $14.969.

On seven occasions, the American Civil Liberties Union has sued the Tangipahoa Parish School Board along with other defendants, for having allegedly sponsored and promoted religion in teacher-led school activities.

Reflecting back on the civil rights movement in Tangipahoa Parish, my three brothers and I were retained in the first year of integration in Tangiphaoa Parish in 1969. My childhood best friend Doris Lloyd who was an A and B student was retained with many of our other classmates. Her father went to talked with the white principal at Natalbany Elementary School in 1969 to see why his daughter was retained. After her father talked with the principal concerning Doris being retained, she was placed in her right grade.

Smith Robertson Musuem
Jackson, Mississippi
I remember being screamed at, talked too in a degrading way by my first white teacher named Mrs. Dedrick at Amite Elementary. All of the black students was scared to death in her class. We were the "Ruby Bridges" in Amite, Louisiana. We did not get the protection of the U.S. Marshals, as kids, we had to learn how to cope with the mistreatment. 

 In 1967 black's march from Bogalusa throughout the Florida Parishes to the steps of the state capitol in Baton Rouge organized by A.Z. Young, leader of the Bogalusa Negro Voters League. The 106-mile  trek was twice the distance of the famed Selma to Montgomery, Ala., march of the same period. 

A group of 90 marchers began a 105 mile march from Bogalusa to Baton Rouge to complain to Gov. John McKeithen of continued discrimination against African-Americans within the state. McKeithen's initial statement to the media regarding A.Z. Young's march was one of arrogant indifference: "Most of the stuff out of Bogalusa is hot air," said the Governor. At that point H. Rap Brown, new leader of the Student Nonviolent Committee Congress was slated to be the keynote speaker. Attempts to interview Brown were fruitless, on account of his standing policy not to speak with or acknowledge white reporters. When asked about the expected influence of Brown on the rally, McKeithen replied that "When I see chaos in our urban, Northern areas, it makes me prouder and prouder to be a farmer way down here in Louisiana.

Tangipahoa African-American Newspaper

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tangipahoa Parish Youth Civil Rights Tours to Memphis, TN and Washington, D.C.

Amite Summer Camper in Mark, Mississippi, The Home of
Wagon Mule Train
Photo Credit: Walter C. Black, Sr.
Amite,LA--This pass summer the Tangipahoa Youth Ambassadors and the Amite Summer Campers had an opportunity to learn more about the civil rights struggles by touring some of the civil rights historical landmarks from Mark, Mississippi the birth place of the Wagon Mule Train to Memphis, Tennessee, were Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated on April 4, 1968. When Dr. King announced the Poor People's Campaign, to address poverty in America. He envisioned caravans of poor people of color from all over the United States gathering on the mall in Washington, D.C., with hopes to eradicate poverty. The wagon Mules Train would be comprised of mule-drawn wagons rather than buses, vans and cars. The Mule Train set off from Marks, Mississippi on May 13, 1968 and headed east across northern Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. On June 13 after several delays and mishaps along the way the Mule Train arrived in Atlanta. From Alexandria VA, crossing the Potomac River and on in to Washington, D.C.

Sponsored by Nurturing Our Roots Fine Arts Gallery and TCOJC Apostolic Ministries with Pastor Junious Buchanan, the youth took to the road to learn about their history. It was the first visit to National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee for some of the campers. They actually stood on the balcony were Dr. King was murdered. Once inside the museum they learned about civil rights activists like Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks and other women pioneers who changed the course of history for African Americans.

Summer Campers on the Civil Rights Tour
Photo Credit: Walter C. Black, Sr.
While riding on the bus to tour the historical places the youth campers and Tangipahoa Youth Ambassadors, listened to Dr. King speeches. They was taught by tour guide Antoinette Harrell the importance of their civil rights. They learned the difference between civil rights and human rights. They also read and discussed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The campers watched the movie "Roots" on the tour. They saw the cotton gins, and shanties in the Mississippi Delta. 

They experience holding up signs to protest for justice. They held up signs seeking justice of Trayvon Martin, the young man who was murdered by George Zimmerman in Florida. On the bus you see their little minds working and thinking about this entire experience. Some of them asked questions.

Several of the Tangipahoa Youth Ambassadors went on to Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 50th Anniversary March on Washington, D.C., While traveling on bus for more than eighteen hours they read books and took notes about the civil rights movement. Discussing what they thought it was like to have too ride on the back of the bus and being discriminated against because of the color of their skin. They learned about peonage and sharecropping and what these two words meant and how it affect the lives of many poor people both black and white throughout the deep south.
Katelyn Jones standing up for her voting rights
Photo Credit: Walter C. Black, Sr.

They had the opportunity to meet civil rights activist Julian Bond. Bond later served as the head of he Southern Poverty Law Center and of the NAACP.  The youth ambassadors also met  Marc Morial, an American political and civic leader and current president of the National Urban League. To their surprise they met Roland Martin an American journalist and syndicated columnist with Creator Syndicate and author. He was the commentator for TV One and the host of News One Now. He was also a CNN contributor and later he joined the Tom Joyner Morning Show as senior analyst.  The ambassadors got an interview with BET News to talk about the project that they are work on in Webb, Mississippi.

A very special thanks to Glyniss Vernon Gordon, Pastor and Mrs. Chante Buchanan, Bobby J. Ginn, Antwan Blossom and all the other volunteers, a very warmhearted thank you House on Rock Church in Amite, La., for donating the bus.

Tangipahoa Youth Ambassador reading the Life
Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. 
The Original Civil Right Bus
in Washington D.C.
Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League
Tangipahoa Youth Ambassadors with Roland Martin
LaDesha Lee being interviewed by Joyce Jones 
BET Correspondent 
Tangipahoa Youth Ambassadors with
Civil Right Activist Julian Bond

Elder Frank Harrell, Sr." Daughter Keeping His Legacy Alive"

Terri Harrell Jackson and her grandson
Elder Frank Harrell, Sr., was a man who really love serving the All Mighty Heavenly Father. He and his lovely wife aunt Sadie are the proud parents of seven beautiful girls and one son to carry his name on. As a child I spent a week or two in the summer with my first cousins in New Orleans. One week with my aunt Catherine  and family and a week with uncle Frank and his family. I enjoyed spending time with all of my cousins. 

Spending time with my uncle Frank and aunt Sadie left me with fond memories of the good old days. Uncle Frank taught me so many value lessons that I apply to my life too this very day. In my home I only had brothers to play with, so being in a house full of girls was so exciting to me. I really enjoyed being around Terri, their third daughter,  because she laughed a lot just like me. She was kind of a daddy's girl I would say. "Wherever her daddy went she wanted to be there in his footsteps."

Terri is a person who really cares about family and she practice living the lessons her father taught her. She is not only beautiful on the outside, but she is also beautiful on the inside. Just recently she and her husband became the proud grandparents of a handsome grandson. I don't have to say anymore,  they are spoiling him with love.

It's the way she carry herself that makes me proud of her.  She is admired by so many people who know her.  She works hard to stand on the foundation that her father taught her in his teaching. Her dad and our grandparents would be very proud of her. Just recently she shared some family photographs of our grandmother's brother Alex Richardson and his family. She posted pictures of our grandmother's sister Rosabell Richardson Moore as well. Some of those photographs that she posted uncle Alex and aunt Rosa grandchildren and children had never seen before.

Terri lights up a room with her radiance of beauty and smile. Her love for her three children, grandson, mother, sister, brother, nieces and nephews is never-ending. 

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow in Amite, Louisiana During the 60's

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Amite,LA--All over the United States people are preparing to celebrate the life works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by hosting a weekend of services and events on Monday; January 20th. For some who fought, protest and march for social change, it's about remembrance. In 1968, I was living in Amite, Louisiana when Dr. King was assassinated. I remember my grandmother Josephine crying when she got word that Dr. King was assassinated, she turned on the television and we watched the news. At that time we had what you called a party phone line, which meant that you could easily pick up the phone to make a call and someone was on the lines. The phone lines were tied up with people talking about Dr. King being assassinated. 

During that time in Amite, Louisiana, Jim Crow was live and well. I hated going to town with my grandmother because she was made to say "yes mam", and "no sir" to white people and sometimes to young white people younger than herself. We were not allowed to go in certain places and had to wait  until all the white people was served first.

I remember the older people talking about the KKK and how they were burning crosses in the yards of African American people in Amite, La and surrounding areas. Up to this day people in Amite, Louisiana doesn't like to talk about the racism that they experienced. Places like "Nigger Alley" the "Nigger Window" and the Jim Crow Theater.
Mrs. Alma Harrison Vernon at a School Board Meeting
My brothers and I was part of the first integration of the schools in Amite, La.,  all four of us was retained that first year like so many other African American students in 1969. I can speak first hand of the mistreatment that I received from my white teacher. Like so many other African American students we had no one to tell or talk too. 

Although my uncles and cousins were fighting in Vietnam, we were fighting back home for equality and our civil rights. As a child I never visit the public library, movie theaters and other public places that was segregated by the Jim Crow laws. I remember my mother coming home from work  very angry and upset that she was called a "nigger" by a man named Mr. Cobb who owned a second hand store. My great uncle Alex Richardson came out to my mother's home to help address that matter.  
Protest and March in Washington, D.C.

My cousin Adam and his friends were walking home from a football game and when a car with young white men came along and tried to run over them. They had to hide out in the ditch to keep from being attacked or run over by them. 

Several people in my family organized to protest for jobs at several of the local stores, Jo-Ann Frazier, Deloris Harrell-Washington, and Adam and Glyniss Gordon protest for jobs at some of the local stores in Amite, La.  During a conversation with my childhood friend Doris Lloyd she shared with me some of the racist acts that took place in Holden, LA.  She said that one of her friend's Mrs. Albin who lived in Holden, LA told her that when African Americans marched and protest in Holden, white men would lay down on the  buildings in town with assaults weapons ready to  shoot the protestors.

The civil rights movement was the first of the 1960s-era social movement produced one of the most important American social activists of the 20th century. African Americans had to sit on the back of the public buses, they were refused services in hotel and restaurants, and still went to racially segregated schools. Even in the segregated schools we got the hand me down books from the Tangipahoa Parish School Board.

I still get the feeling that both African Americans and white people people in Tangipahoa Parish don't want to embrace a conversation, lectures or discussion on this topic. To this very day this conversation is avoided even in our own homes. 

Many of our parents was working as house maids, nannies, and handy men, drivers and gardeners in many of the white homes in Amite, LA., Life was difficult in many of the rural towns in the 50s and 60s. Up until now, many things still haven't changed. 

After returning home in 2005, although somethings has changes, there is still a lot of things that remains the same. There is a social and economic segregation in Tangipahoa Parish. Although we have several African American elected officials, African American working in clerical positions on a local level. We are still social and economically disfranchised. There are a very few black owned businesses in the entire parish from the south to north end of the parish.

The Northshore Black Elected Officials Coalition and Association of St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington Parishes, had taken on the task of identifying and addressing critical needs including, economic development, criminal and civil justice, education, youth leadership, transportation and faith-based outreach.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Karran Harper Royal an Education Advocate in New Orleans with Ancestral Roots in Amite, LA.

Karran Harper Royal
Karran Harper Royal works as an Education Advocate in New Orleans. She is the Assistant Director of Pyramid Community Parent Resource Center and the Training Coordinator for the New Orleans Parent Organizing Network.  Her work at Pyramid involves providing one to one support to parents of children with disabilities and conducting workshops to help parents understand their rights under federal special education law.   In addition to working with Pyramid and New Orleans Parent Organizing Network, Mrs. Harper Royal is a contributor to Research on Reforms and provides a parent voice to the work at Southern Poverty Law Center.  Mrs. Harper Royal currently serves as the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Greater Gentilly High School as well as the chair of the Gentilly Civic Improvement Association’s (GCIA)  Education Committee.  Her work on the GCIA Education Committee lead to the creation of the Greater Gentilly High School, one of five new schools to be rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina.

1870 United States Census
Karran is the great grand daughter of Shelton Harrell, Sr., of Amite, Louisiana. My grandfather Jasper Harrell, Sr., and Shelton were brothers. It was in 2000 when I first published the Harrell Family History book that I met Karran.  She read about the genealogy research that I did on our Harrell family, she purchased a copy to learn more about her Harrell family lineage. Although Karran didn't travel to Amite, Louisiana as a little girl growing up, but her paternal grandmother Marion Harrell Harper and her siblings did visit with their parents uncle Shelton and aunt Ada on the weekends.

Shelton Harrell, Sr. (Sitting)
"Cousin Marion was a city girl and the country life didn't set so well with her". She was the kind of girl that loved her makeup, long finger nails and she enjoyed dressing up. So the country life wasn't the life she wanted. Although her father Shelton Harrell, Sr., made sure that cousin Marion and her sisters and brothers visit Amite, Louisiana to visit their grandmother Emma Mead Harrell, their aunts, uncles and cousins. 

It was a pleasure meeting one of the great grand daughter of uncle Shelton. The Harrell's are proud to have Karran as a family members. Once again the offsprings of Robert Harrell, Sr., is making a difference in the lives of others. Karran will be a guest on "Nurturing Our Roots Blog Talk Radio with host Antoinette Harrell on Tuesday: January 7, at 8:00 CST. Please tune into the show tomorrow night. 


"Africa's Forgotten Empires" by Author Seager Godson

Seager Godson

Seager Godson is the great grandson of Palmer Harrell of Amite, Louisiana. He wrote the book "Africa's Forgotten Empires" at the ages of 14 years old. His book can be purchased on amazon. At a very early age Seager enjoy studying history. To him history is the greatest story that mankind can write. It is an ongoing saga that has no end, and we all are given a chance to play a part in it.

A few week ago through facebook his mother reached out to me. Veronica and I use to play together as children while growing up in Amite, Louisiana. She would come and visit my family with her grandparents, Palmer and Manilla McCoy Harrell. Veronica's grandfather Palmer and my grandfather Jasper Harrell, Sr., were brothers.

  It wasn't long after that Veronica moved to Chicago and we lost touch   with each other. I was very happy to have her contact me through the social media. When she did she wanted to know more about the Harrell family history and where in Africa did they come from. She asked me to talk with her son about our family history because he wanted to know more. "I was eager to help and teach him about his own personal history". At the end of our conversation he was so happy and I was too. Whenever the youth want to learn about their family history that is truly important.

Through our conversation, I learned of about the book that he wrote and published. Seager will be a guest on "Nurturing Our Roots Blog Talk Radio" soon.

Carla Harrell Native of Amite, Louisiana Gave 623 Kids Coats this Winter

Carla Harrell
Carla Harrell is the founder of "Give A Kid A Coat" an organization based in Dallas, Texas. She grew up in Amite, Louisiana and later moved to Dallas, Texas were she currently resides. During the winter months, there are many kids who may not own a a coat. This is where Carla Harrell makes the difference in a child life. What some people make take for granted, others are in desperate need of.

Her misson was inspired by a young girl walking to school during the winter months without a coat. After she observed the young girl walking to school. She set out to find the child to purchase a coat for her and couldn't find her. At that point she decided to give coats to the entire school to ensure she got the right child. Carla knew that she had to make a difference by getting involved to make sure children in need of winter coats get a coat in order to stay warm in the harsh winter climate.

Carla and all the participants who collected 623 coats are people who are making a difference.  If you would like to get involved and help her organization next year please follow her on Facebook. Gathering of Hearts wishes to thank Carla Harrell for her love, hard work and dedication for making difference in a child life. Her example of caring and sharing is inspiring. But she couldn't do it without the help of all the people and volunteers who shared the same vision. What is your vision? Are you doing something to make that vision become a reality? Why are you procrastinating? Are you making a difference?

623 collected by Give A Kid A Coat with Founder Carla Harrell

Tangipahoa Parish Educator Monteral Harrell Climmons Give the Gift of Reading to Webb, Mississippi

Monteral Harrell Climmons
Can you imagine living in a town or city were there isn't a library or community resource center? Well that's exactly what you will not find in Webb, Ms., a small rural town in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. The population was 587 at the 2000 census. There are 225 households out of which 26.2% has children under the age of 18 living in them. (Source) From Wikipedia

Gathering of Hearts set out to collect books, art supplies, computers, printers and furniture for the upcoming library/community resource center. A very special thanks to educator Monteral Harrell-Climmons for her generous donation of books for the library. "She is a strong advocate for tutoring children in reading in Tangipahoa Parish".  As an educator her love for reading and teaching has reached beyond the boundaries of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. She understand if we are going to help our youth reach their success, reading is the basis fundamental to achieve that success.

When you give the gift of reading you are encouraging creativity while also enhancing reading, comprehension, communication and enrichment skills at all levels for all age groups. Her commitment to education speaks volumes in her actions. Most summers you can find her mentoring young girls through cheerleading and encouraging them to become activity in the communities they live in. If you would like to donate books, a computer, printers, art supplies to this project. Please contact Gathering of Hearts at 504.858.4658 or email us at
Books donated by Mrs. Monteral Harrell Climmons
Educator for the Tangipahoa Parish School System

Please follow us on Facebook at
Gathering of Hearts wishes to thank Monteral Harrell Climmons for her generous donation once again. It is people like her who are truly making a difference. What a great way to kick the New Year off by giving the gift of reading or become involved with some other causes in your community.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Wendell Richardson Preserving the Richardson Family History Through Photographs

Wendell Richardson
Sometimes family genealogist and family historians have their ways of preserving and telling their family history. Wendell Richardson is the grandson of Alexander and Melisa Wheat Richardson of Amite, Louisiana. Several months ago, Wendell loss his father Nathaniel Richardson, Sr., one of the sons of Alexander and Melisa.

Wendell found the time to go through some of the family albums and most importantly he is sharing the photographs with his first cousins and other family members. Wendell may never know just how much we really appreciate the fact he is sharing these special family memories.

If we don't keep our family history alive who will? I hope others will do what Wendell made the decisions to do. As a family genealogist I can appreciate the gift that Wendell shared with the family. My grandmother Josephine Richardson Harrell was Alexander sister.
Often times we hear about family members who will not share family photographs with others.
family members who will not share family "Wendell has truly set an example of what we should do with family photographs when someone in the family pass away". Beside being talented and intelligent he also loves his family dearly. Now, my hope is he find a photograph of my grandmother Josephine in his collection. Preserving our family memories is an important step to preserving our history for the future.

With today's technology it is easy to share the precious photographs with our family no matter where they live.  In this digital age, we can scan, enhance, and store our family images for safe keeps. We all have a responsibility of preserving our family history.

Here are a few tips on preserving family photographs.

1. Purchase photo albums with acid-free and lignin-free paper.
2. Use PVC-free such as maylar, polypropylene, polyester and polyethylene.
3. Store photographs in photo boxes made of acid-free materials with acid-fee card dividers.
4. Always avoid using paper clips and pins to hold photographs together.
5. Always use photo-safe glue and avoid using regular adhesive tapes and glues, which will damage
6. Handle photographs carefully. It helps to put on cotton gloves.
7. Label photographs on the back with a photo-safe pen from a photo or craft store.  Do not write on
    your photos, and never use regular ball point or felt tip pens.

Supt Alexander Richardson and his wife Melisa Wheat Richardson
Supt. Alexander Richardson, his wife Melisa Wheat Richardson, sons, and their wives, and grandchildren
Photo Credit: Terri Harrell-Jackson

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Burgher High School Class of 1969

Burgher High School Class of 1969
Burgher High School was located in Independence, Louisiana.

Abandoned Schools in Tangipahoa & St. Helena Parishes Can Be Used As Creative Learning Centers

Big Zion School in Roseland, Louisiana
While riding around Tangipahoa and St. Helena Parishes I noticed a number of abandoned schools that could be used as creative learning centers. These building have rooms that can be used for libraries, art galleries, museums, meeting rooms, recreational rooms, music and dance, and small theaters.

So, why are we not using these abandoned schools for enrichment education? Could we transformed these buildings to service the community? The answer is yes, with groups, churches, association and social clubs pooling their resources together to preserve and transformed these abandoned schools into Creative Learning Centers It starts with a vision and concerned citizens who can make a difference. The lack of community resources can bring about many unwanted problems in any community.  Community Resources that include services, knowledge, equipment, and facilities. The resources can come from a variety of sources and provide all kinds of assistance.

Woodland High School in St. Helena Parish
Tangipahoa and St. Helena Parishes, need community resources for it citizens that can include after school programs, senior citizens daycare services, educational enrichment programs and other programs that is vital for our communities.

How long are we going to leave these buildings in despair? We have what it takes to revitalize the building, raise the funding and develop the programs that is need to continue to enrich our community.