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Over Troubled Water

Strengthening the relationships between all African ancestored descendants

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Walter C. Black, Sr.
Over Troubled Water is pleased to wish Walter C. Black, Sr a Happy Birthday!  Since 2008, Walter has worked with Antoinette Harrell of Nurturing Our Roots and Gathering of Hearts to contribute to the pictorial history of 20th Century slavery in the Mississippi Delta.

""Walter is not a selfish person.  He has provided wonderful photographs and and sacrificed his time to the cause.  He has helped for many years. I could not have done it without him,"  said Antoinette Harrell.

Walter's first camera belonged to his dad.  He started taking photographs with it between eight and ten years old, and he has been taking them ever since.  He has taken photos of family at gatherings, and he says that if anyone is looking for a photograph, he probably has it.

Walter does not have a fear of moving around with the camera.  He is definitely not the type of photographer who stands way back to take pictures.  He says he will get as close a possible, get on the ground, and has even taken photos from the pulpit.

A native of Westwego, LA, Walter spend most of his time with his mentor, his grandmother. He says he grew up helping his grandmother around the house, so he learned all about what a house is supposed to look like.  "If you don't train up a child, he won't know,"  said Walter.  He made his bed, fed the chickens, and milked the cows all before he went to school in the morning.

Walter's mother and grandmother both had houses on the same land. Walter, one of  eight children, stayed
in the big house on the front of the property, and his mother and brothers and sisters stayed in a house behind his grandmother's house.  He helped to take care of his brothers and sisters when his mom went to work. Even right now, his family is very close.

Walter studied welding and blueprint reading. He worked in a shipyard for a number of years, the sheriff's department for thirteen years, and at Union Combine were he retired soon after it became Dow Chemical.  He continued taking photographs until he met Antoinette in 2008 at a planning meeting.  He heard the passion in her voice about her work in the Mississippi Delta.  He volunteered to take photographs and contribute them for no charge, and he has been doing this ever since.

Walter has been an eyewitness to 20th Century slavery.  He has driven down many roads, but it was not until he teamed up with Antoinette did he venture down the unbeaten paths. There they have discovered pockets of people living on plantations in poverty.  Many do not have to pay to live in the shanties, but they are available for labor when called on by the plantation owners.

Kosciusko, Mississippi is the birth place of Oprah Winfrey.  This was one of their first tours.  See Peonage letter leads Harrell to Oprah Winfrey's childhood home.  They found important records documenting peonage among bird droppings and silverfish in the dark and dusty courthouse attic:

"These people are hidden off on corners of the world were nobody will ever see them, but they have made everybody else rich.  They are descendants of a form of sharecroppers that everybody has put off to the side. They were not able to go to school like everybody else. They had seven to eight people in the family, and everybody had to work.  Once they got into the third grade or so, that was it.  They were out in the field full time.  These are the people that we need to get to know, the people who were left behind," said Walter.

The first thing that really sparked Walter's interest in the Delta occurred while he and Antoinette were riding through the Delta in search of someone to provide information about sharecropping. A little boy crossed the road with no shirt on and barefoot.  They stopped to talk to him, and his mother came out and invited them into the house.  "The porch was raggedy; there were holes in the floor, and there was sewage out back.  We only came looking for a story, but that is how we really got started helping people. They became the first people we helped in Mississippi," said Walter.

"Antoinette was called to do this, and whatever it takes, I am going to help her.  She is a jewel" said Walter.  Walter attributes to Antoinette his increased understanding about the knowledge that he has a past and a future. He is looking forward to visiting Cameroon and Mozambique and seeing someone that really does look like him.

Some people do not want to acknowledge they come from Africa.  "I think they need to go and look in the glass. They need to go look in the glass and come to themselves," said Walter. He also said, "If you take a look at yourself, you will see who you look like, and someone made it across on that boat.  That is why you are here.  I know where I originated from. I want to have dual citizenship."

Walter was inspired by the videos and photographs that Antoinette had from Niger.  In 2009, he discovered his ancestry through African Ancestry.  His mother's ancestry originated in Cameroon, and his father's ancestors came from Mozambique.

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With the blessings of technology, all African ancestored descendants can develop an online haven where healing can take place. Let's recite and relish in our history. Let's come together to identify the principles that help us to enjoy freedom and happiness. Hopefully, "Over Troubled Water" will be the beginning of that for you. We welcome contributors who will share their history and perspectives that we may all learn and benefit.
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"I believe that all men, black and brown and white, are brothers, varying in time and opportunity, in form and gift and feature, but differing in no essential particular, and alike in soul and the possibility of infinite development." --W.E.B. Dubois
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Over Troubled Water by Robin R. Foster is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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The village is coming together! We are from many diverse groups from around the world. We invite you to use Over Trouble Water as an avenue that will spark much needed dialog. This dialog can lead to great enlightenment and healing. Every effort will be made to supplement using historical resources for further study, however, opinions or views expressed in articles reflect the contributor's life experiences and are the responsibility of the respective contributor. Comments should be addressed to the respective contributor.

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