African American Lives 2 -- Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
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Sharing Stories: One Family's Story
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My great-great grandmother Tyler, Texas 1972 It is her life. I was 18 when she died so I heard her story firsthand

I had the awesome pleasure of hearing the story of North Central Texas slaves through the eyes of my great-great grandmother, "grandma" Celia Roberson Black. She was born on September 10, 1859 and died December 13, 1974. At one time she was the oldest living citizen in the US. My sister, Michelle Clay-Coleman, was a theater arts major at, (formerly) East Texas State University, where she was assigned a project for class. She chose to interview my great - great grandmother and the school decided to make it a feature article entitled "Actress has her own Jane Pittman." During the interview, grandma told us how life was on the Texas plantation and how her parents were slaves but she was not yet old enough to be sold. She remembers the day that Texas slaves received word that they were free. She said "I was in the field with my daddy, riding the ox, and my mama came running out shouting "we's free, we's free." She said her daddy asked "what ya mean free?" She said she didn't know what it meant but her mama was very happy. She told of the celebration that took place later that night and how the children were happy but confused. On her 112 birthday, my 5 generations of family came together to take a picture; my sister, Michelle; myself, Patricia Clay-Chapman; my mother Dorothy Jackson Clay; my grand mother, Marie Welch Jackson; my great grand mother Birda Welch Black Britton and my great-great grandmother Celia Roberson Black. During some research after watching Dr. Gates' program, I found my great-great grandmothers birthday, which I never knew. She and eldest son, Brian, share the same birthday, September 10; even the numbers in the years are the same, she was 1859 and he was born 1985. He is a Senior theater arts major at Prairie View A&M University and he wants to find more about our history. My great-great grandmother had several children, all of whom I did not know, however, two of her children are still alive; Johnny Cornelius Black, Oakland, California, and Easter Black Medford, Dallas, TX. Grandma Black grew up and lived on the same piece of land that was given to her father by the slave-owner when they were freed, on Clay street.

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Major corporate funding for African American Lives 2 and its outreach initiatives is provided by The Coca-Cola Company and Johnson & Johnson. Additional corporate funding is provided by Buick.
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