Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bickham African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church History of Amite, Louisiana

My colleague, friend and Radio Talk Show Bernice Alexander Bennett sent me several obituary and other information that is vital to the history of African American people of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. She sent me this Cornerstone Service Program for Bickham African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.

For anyone who are researching their family history these types of service programs and obituary can be very helpful and useful to you.

The Church History

In October 1796, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church was founded in New York City. The organization grew out of the well-known dissatisfaction among the people of color over the kind of treatment received in services of the church. From the beginning, this independent movement of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church was largely influenced and structured by James Varick. He was the consistent leader and was later the virtual pastor of the is first church called Zion.

Zion Church was incorporated in 1801 by the name, "The African Methodist Episcopal Church in New York " Methodist was always in the title to exhibit the retention of the doctrine and form of church government under which the denomination originated. "African" was prefixed to the rest of the title of the church because it was to be controlled by descendants of Africans in the interest of humanity, regardless of race, color, sex or condition. Another organization came into existence around the same time, with the same title, causing much confusion. Because of this, the General Conference of 1848 voted to make Zion a part of the denominational name.

As the growth of the Zion churches spread from city to city, village to village, it was affixed on the hearts of Mr. Leander Butler and Mr. Jordon Bickham to donate and acre of land in the Velma community, referred to at times as Bickham Town, for the purpose of constructing a Zion Church in order to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In 1878 Bickham Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church was erected the acres of land and was named in honor of Mr. Jordon Bickham. Since that time preacher have preached, should have been saved, members have gone to the great beyond., but we here at Bickham Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church still cherish the memories of those who have contributed immensely to the upbuilding of God's kingdom.

Bickham Chapel A.M.E. Church, of the New Orleans District, is one of 14 churches in the Louisiana Conference. The leaders of this great organization are: Bishop Arthur Marshall Jr., Presiding Bishop; Reverend Hollis Callahan, Presiding Elder; Reverend Wille Gene Johnson, Pastor.

Our church is part of the A. M.E. Zion Church which believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ, Holy Ghost, the Virgin Birth, the Crucifixion, Resurrection, the Lord's Supper, forgiveness of sin and everlasting life.

The members are proud of their heritage and pledge to forever uphold and be governed by the laws of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. We further pledge to continue to life the name of Jesus who is our strength and our savior.

This church has has as pastors, God-like, devout Christian preachers: Rev. Nazereth, Rev. Joe Graves, Rev. Dillion, Rev J.S. McCall, Rev. P. A. Silas, Rev. S.C. Byrd Sr., Rev Charles Atherly, Rev. Hollis Callahan, Rev. Lemar Perry, Rev. Francis Williams, Rev. Charles Robinson and presently Rev. Willie Gene Johnson. These ministers have preached the gospel so that everyone could hear of Jesus, know of his goodness and see his works in the lives of men.

As we dedicate this church today, may it stand as a living monument that all the sons and daughters of Bickham A.M.E. Zion Church can rejoice and say we have come this far by faith.

Talking To Your Kids About Racism and Bigotry

This past weekend I wanted to take my grandchildren for a ride to look at some of the historical landmarks in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. We came up on an old store with a gas pump that appeared to be from the 50s in Roseland, Louisiana., right on Highway 51 North. As usual I wanted to photograph some of the building captures moments of the past.

What I didn't want to hold on too was some of the racism we as African American people had to face in Tangipahoa Parish. I was just about the same age my grandchildren are when I had to face the ugly faces of racism, and now my grandchildren met it as well.

We pulled up and waiting for the person who was taking photographs of the same building to finish take her photographs. The little old gray headed white woman didn't say a word to her. She allowed her to take her pictures. When my grandchildren and I started taking our pictures she rushed over there. My grandchildren spoke and wave at her several times and she refused to speak to them.

Once they got back to the car they started talking to me about how mean she was. They couldn't understand why she was so mean and hateful. I explained to them that some people are that way and the little old woman was one of those people.

As old as she is, someone would think that she wouldn't want die with those ugly feeling of hatred in her heart especially where children are concerned. We know that it wasn't only white people who patronized her store. Many African American people on the northern end of the parish patronized her business establishment.

After posting the photographs on Facebook this morning, a woman named Rochelle said," I remember going there when I was a young girl, as we were getting out of the car a little boys shouted something I won't repeat." I just told someone about that experience a few days ago. That just gave me chills. It probably the same lady too. I'll never forget that. It was my first real experience with racism.

It maybe hard to talk with your children or grandchildren about racism but we can't be afraid to talk with them about the ugly face of racism.

Look for the teaching moments and take the opportunity to teach them and by all means be truthful with them. Teach them to treat all people with respect and dignity. We can't alway keep our children shield from bigotry,  nor can we always shield them from people who are prejudiced.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Berlin Childress Gordon of Kentwood, Louisiana

Berlin Childress Gordon
On Monday evening the angel of silence invaded the Gordon family and with chilling fingers sealed the lips of a superannuated A.M.E. Minister and the oldest citizen of Kentwood, Louisiana. He was 102 years old.

Berlin C. Gordon, the son of the late Mrs. Julia Huff ( Gorman) Gordon and Mr. Henry Gordon, was born free on March 30, 1865 in Greensburg, Louisiana.

He was converted under the Rev. T.A. Wilson at Cross Roads A.M.E. Church, presently Turner's Chapel A.M.E. Church in Greensburg, Louisiana.

 He pastored 22 years in Mississippi and missed only one Conference; served 23 years in Louisiana and converted many souls during his service for the Masters. He was joined in Holy Matrimony three times, five children were born by the first union; none by the second and nine the third union.

He leaved on mourn a wife, Mrs. Sarah Singleton Gordon of Duck Hill, Miss; three sons: Hurley Gordon of Kentwood, La.; Milton Gordon of New York City, NY; Nathaniel Gordon of Vallejo, Calif; three daughters: Mrs Beatrice Sykes of Grenada, Miss; Mrs. Gladys Mondy of Duck Hill, Miss; Katherine McDougal of Clarkdale, Miss.; and a host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, other relatives and friends.

Berlin and Sarah also had a son named Berlin.  In 1920 the younger Berlin was living in East Feliciana, Louisiana in Police Ward 6, in the household with mother Sarah and his siblings; Alis, Oscar, Beatrice, Persillia and Moses Gordon.

Sources: Berlin's Gordon's funeral program obituary and the 1920 United States Census.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Historical Rosenwald School in Fluker, Louisiana

Fluker School
 Fluker, Louisiana

Fluker, Louisiana is were my paternal side of the family lived. Fluker is a small unincorporated town.

My father shared with me how life was for African American people who lived in Fluker, Louisiana.

Fluker, Louisiana was founded by Richard Amacker Kent and named for his father, a Confederated named James Fluker Kent. Fluker was the maiden names of Fluker Kent's mother, was was the daughter of Colonel Robert Fluker, a veteran of New Orleans.

Historic NameFluker School
Current Name
Building PlanOne-teacher type
Building TypeSchool
Budget Year1925-26
Current Address
Land (Acreage)2.00
CountyTangipahoa Parish
Application #3-E
Total Cost$1800.00
Additional Comments
Funding Sources
      » Negroes$300.00
      » Whites$1,000.00
      » Public$100.00
      » Rosenwald$400.00

Source: Fisk University Rosenwald Fund Card File Database

Historical Rosenwald School in St.Helena Parish, Louisiana

St. Helena Parish Colored School
Photo Courtesy of Dewayne Cook
My associate Leonard Smith III, sent me an email that got my attention about the historical Rosenwald School in Louisiana. 

Julius Rosenwald -(1862-1932) became interested in the welfare of Negroes established the Julius Rosenwald Fund, which had to be spent within 25 years of his death to better condition for Negroes through education. 

More than 5,000 schools for Negroes in 15 southern states( including Louisiana and especially St. Helena Parish). 

He became known as the father  of the Negro Parish Training School, a school for Negroes, located in a Negro community, usually a mile or two from a town.

Historic NameHarrell Industrial
Current Name
Building PlanTwo-teacher type
Building TypeSchool
Budget Year1928-29
Current Address
Land (Acreage)3.00
CountySt. Helena Parish
Application #30-H
Total Cost$2400.00
Additional Comments
Funding Sources
      » Negroes$850.00
      » Whites$260.00
      » Public$790.00
      » Rosenwald

Source: Fisk University Rosensald Fund Cart Database.