The 2019 Gathering at the Bellamy Mansion was marked by music, new exhibitions and a keynote speach by Barbara Bell Coleman, a descendant of Henry Taylor, an enslaved craftsman who was one of the builders of the Bellamy Mansion.  Below are some pictures from The Gathering, the program of Events, and Ms. Coleman's remarks.



Barbara Bell Coleman's Remarks at The Gathering 

THE GATHERING

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2019

BELLAMY MUSEUM OF ART & DESIGN

A STEWARDSHIP PROPERTY OF PRESERVATION NORTH CAROLINA


THANK YOU FOR EXTENDING THIS INVITATION TO ME, TO IN EFFECT, COME HOME! COME HOME TO WHERE MY ANCESTRAL HISTORY BEGAN IN THE CITY OF WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA. I AM JOINED HERE TODAY WITH MY ELDER SISTER, LYDIA RASPBERRY, NOW A RESIDENT OF WILMINGTON, AND OUR FIRST COUSIN, KATHERINE WILLIAMS OF MARYLAND, WHO WAS BORN, RAISED, AND WENT THROUGH JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL HERE. WE ARE THE GREAT, GREAT GRANDCHILDREN OF HENRY TAYLOR, ONE OF THE BUILDERS OF BELLAMY MANSION, NOW THE MUSEUM OF ART AND DESIGN.


BECAUSE OF THE CONSCIOUSNESS RAISING WORK THIS INSTITUTION HAS DONE OVER THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS OF BRINGING EXTRAORDINARY HISTORIANS, (I AM NOT ONE) THAT CONTINUE TO ADDRESS ALL ASPECTS OF THE PAST, AND ALL SIDES OF THE STORY, I FELT “SAFE” IN ACCEPTING THE INVITATION TO BE YOUR KEYNOTE SPEAKER FOR THE GATHERING AT BELLAMY MANSION MUSEUM.

I WISH TO FIRST ACKNOWLEDGE THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES AND LEADERSHIP OF THE BELLAMY MUSEUM OF ART AND DESIGN FOR YOUR INSIGHTFULNESS AND COURAGE--- NOT ONLY TO LOOK DEEP WITHIN YOURSELVES BUT TO BRAVELY, PURPOSELY AND PUBLICLY POSITION THIS MUSEUM TO BE A SAFE SPACE OF PUBLIC DISCOURSE FOR SKEPTIC’s AND TRUTH SEEKERS ALIKE. FOR EMBRACING AND INTEGRATING WITHIN YOUR STANDARD PROGRAMMING THE SERIOUS SCHOLARSHIP OF MEN AND WOMEN WHO WITH DEEP PAGE 1 RESPECT AND IMPARTIALITY ADDRESS ALL ASPECTS OF OUR NATIONS CHARGED , COMPLICATED, PAINFUL HISTORY, I APPLAUD AND ENCOURAGE YOU TO CONTINUE ALONG THIS PATH. TO THE WOMEN’S IMPACT NETWORK, MAYOR SAFFO, STATE REPRESENTATIVE, SECRETARY BURNS, THANK YOU FOR THE ROLE EACH OF YOU ARE PLAYING TO ADVANCE THE CONVERSATION OF ENSLAVEMENT AND ITS AFTER EFFECTS.


 LET ME ALSO SHARE THAT TODAY WILL BE THE FIRST TIME THE IDENTITIES AND NAMES ARE MORE FULLY KNOWN AND PUBLICLY SPOKEN OF NINE (9) ADULTS AND ONE (!) CHILD WHO LIKE MY GREAT, GREAT GRANDFATHER, WHOSE LABOR HELPED BUILD THIS PLACE, WAS ENSLAVED. THOSE OF US ENGAGED IN THIS PROCESS TODAY CONSIDER IT BOTH A PRIVILEGE AND SACRED CHARGE. THERE ARE ALSO TWO DIRECT DESCENDANTS OF ENSLAVED PLASTERER WILLIAM B. GOULD WHO ARE IN ATTENDANCE: HEIDI GERBER-SALINS, AN INSTRUCTOR AT HOWARD UNIVERSITY IN DC, AND AMY GERBER-STROH, AN A INSTRUCTOR AT HOLLINS UNIVERSITY IN VIRGINIA.  I THEREFORE WISH TO HONOR THEM BY DEDICATING MY REMARKS TO THEM. I ALSO WISH TO PERSONALLY DEDICATE MY REMARKS TO MY MOM, BARBARA TAYLOR WRIGHT AGE 96 of NJ AND HER SISTER, MARY GAINES AGE 98 OF DETROIT, MI. BOTH LADIES BLESSED WITH ALL THEIR FACULTIES, LIVE INDEDPENDENTLY BUT WERE NOT ABLE TO PHYSICALLY TRAVEL HERE TODAY. THEY ARE THE DAUGHTERS OF THE LATE CARRIE TAYLOR ALL OF WHOM WERE BORN AND RAISED HERE IN WILMINGTON, BAPTIZED IN THE CHESTNUT STREET PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH AND ARE THE ELDEST LIVING DESCENDENTS OF HENRY TAYLOR.


OUR FAMILY IS FORTUNATE TO HAVE ALWAYS KNOWN ABOUT HENRY, HOWEVER HE WAS NOT OFTEN SPOKEN OF. BUT, RESULTING IN LARGE MEASURE FROM THE WORK OF THIS INSTITUTION, HE HAS BEEN BROUGHT OUT OF THE SHADOWS AND INTO THE LIGHT, WITH A MUCH FULLER MEASURE OF THIS EXTRAORDINARY MAN AND HIS ACCOMPLISHMENTS. THE RESULTING GIFT IS AN ENORMOUS SENSE OF PRIDE AND INSPIRATION CLEARLY FOR MYSELF AND I SURELY IMAGINE, FOR ALL OF HIS DESCENDANTS.


CBS TELEVISION IN ITS SPECIAL ON “BLACK FACE” INTERVIEWED MARGO JEFFERSON, PULITZER PRIZE WINNER THEATRE CRITIC AND PROFESSOR WHO CONCLUDED THE INTERVIEW WITH POINANT REMARKS BY SIMPLY STATING: “ WHEN THERE IS A PROBLEM THAT IS IGNORED, SUPPRESSED OR PUSHED AWAY, IT COMES BACK TO HAUNT YOU UNTIL IT IS ADDRESSED. THAT IS WHY NOW, WE NEED TO HAVE “CONVERSATION”


SO LET US BEGIN … I START WITH OUR FAMILY ANCESTORS NOT TO SHOWCASE THEM BUT TO MAKE A PROFOUND POINT, I TRUST ALL OF YOU WILL QUICKLY COME TO APPRECIATE. UNTIL TODAY, I NEVER THOUGHT OF HERE AS BEING HOME FOR ME, EVEN AFTER MY SISTER LYDIA’S RECENT MOVE TO WILMINGTON. AND, I CERTAINLY NEVER THOUGHT OF RIGHT-HERE BEING HALLOWED GROUND. BUT WHEN I THINK ABOUT OUR GREAT, GREAT GRANDFATHER, HENRY TAYLOR, A SKILLED CRAFTSMAN (ALONG WITH PLASTERER WILLIAM B. GOULD ) WALKED ON THESE SAME GROUNDS UPON WHICH WE MEMBERS OF THEIR FAMILIES WALK TODAY, I FEEL RIGHT NOW THAT I AM HOME.


HENRY NOT ONLY WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN ERECTING THIS MANSION, BUT AS A LOCAL HISTORIAN BEVERLY TETTERTON INFORMED US, HENRY TALYOR’S GREATER (PHYSICAL) ACHIEVEMENT, OF WHICH LITTLE IS SPOKEN, WAS HIS WORK ON WILMINGTON’S CITY HALL/THALIAN HALL AND OTHER PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS SUCH AS HEMINGWAY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. A COPY OF HIS PAYMENT FOR THE SCHOOL HAS BEEN RECORDED AND SAVED.


CLEARLY A MAN OF FAITH, HE WAS ONE OF THE FOUNDERS OF SECOND, CHESTNUT STREET PRESBYERIAN CHURCH WHERE OUR GRAND MOTHER “MISS CARRIE” SERVED ON THE ALTAR GUILD --- I THINK, UNTIL HER DEATH AT AGE 99 PAGE 3 A DAY PRIOR TO HER 100TH BIRTHDAY. SO, TO HAVE LISTENED TODAY, TO HER CHURCH CHOIR AND TO REALIZE THE CHURCH HAS CONTINUED FROM THEN UNTIL NOW, REMINDS US OF WHAT AN INCREDIBLY STRONG FOUNDATION WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN IN SPIRIT AND IN PHYSICAL FORM!


A FORWARD THINKING MAN, HENRY TAYLOR ENSURED HIS CHILDREN WOULD NOT LIVE HIS ENSLAVED LIFE. HE WOULD GIVE THEM SOMETHING NO MAN, COULD EVER TAKE FROM THEM…AN EDUCATION. SOMEHOW, ABLE TO KEEP AND SAVE HIS OWN WAGES, HE SENT EACH OF HIS FOUR CHILDREN TO COLLEGE:

JOHN EDWARD TAYLOR, HIS ELDEST SON AND OUR GREAT GRANDFATHER, WAS A GRADUATE OF HOWARD UNIVERSITY AND BECAME A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSMAN HERE IN WILMINGTON. HE WAS OWNER OF THE FIRST BLACK SHOE STORE: JOHN E. TAYLOR BOOTS AND SHOES AT 109 PRINCESS STREET. HE WAS A REAL ESTATE INVESTOR AND WAS APPOINTED BY GOVERNOR DANIEL L RUSSELL, DEPUTY COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS IN 1898, THE YEAR OF THE WILMINGTON INSURRECTION.


HIS YOUNGER BROTHER, ROBERT ROBINSON TAYLOR WAS THE FIRST BLACK MAN TO GRADUATE FROM M.I.T. WITH A DEGREE IN ARCHITECTURE. HE WENT ON TO TUSKEGEE INSTITUTE WHERE HE WORKED WITH BOOKER T. WASHINGTON. AND TODAY, THERE IS AN ENDOWED CHAIR AT M.I.T. IN HIS HONOR.


UPON THE DEATH OF BOTH BROTHERS, THEIR OBITUARIES WERE STRIKINGLY SIMILAR WITH DESCRIPTIONS OF THEIR SUCCESSFULLNESS, FINE CHARACTERS, TRAINED INTELLECT, WITH BOTH HAVING A GEAT SENSE OF CIVIC OBLIGATION AND RESPONSIBILITY.


HENRY’S TWO DAUGHTERS MARIA TAYLOR (SHOBER) AND SARAH LOUISE TAYLOR (WHITEMAN) WERE ALSO EDUCATED AT HOWARD. THE FAMILY CONTINUED TO PROSPER AS THE NEXT GENERATION, OUR GRANDMOTHER, “MISS CARRIE”, GRADUATED FROM FISK UNIVERSITY.


SHE IN TURN, SENT HER FIVE CHILDREN: EVELYN, MARY, BARBARA, JOSEPHINE AND BENJAMIN TO COLLEGE. AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, ONE GENERATION LATER, ROBERT ROBINSON TAYLOR’S GREAT, GRAND DAUGHTER, VALERIE GARRETT SERVED AS SPECIAL COUNSEL TO MR. BARACK OBAMA, 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!


THE STORY OF THIS FAMILY IS THE UNTOLD STORY OF SO MANY OTHER FAMILIES. AND YET HERE IN THIS PLACE AND AT THIS TIME, THIS IS OUR COLLECTIVE STORY TO LIVE AND TO TELL. WHILE IT IS INDEED A REMARKABLE STORY, IT WAS NOT A LIFE LIVED WITHOUT PAIN AND EVEN FAR REACHING CONSEQUENCES WHICH THE VAST MAJORITY OF OUR NATIONS BLACK POPULATION HAS LONG SUFFERED. SUFFERING THAT, DESPITE MANY GAINS AND SUPERLATIVE BLACK LIVES LIVED, STILL CONTINUES IN OUR COUNTRY TODAY, AS WE COMBAT UNCEASING RACISM, POVERTY AND INJUSTICE IN SO MANY FORMS. SO, I ASK: HOW DO WE GET FROM HERE TO WHER-EVER WE ARE TO GO AS A WORLD, NATION, COMMUNITY, FAMILY, AS INDIVIDUALS?


ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU FROM SOUTH AFRICA, IN HIS BOOK, THE BOOK OF FORGIVENESS SAYS THAT THE WAY TO HEAL OURSELVES, THE NATION AND THE WORLD IS :

1. TO TELL YOUR WHOLE STORY

2. TO NAME YOUR HURT

3. TO OFFER FORGIVENESS

4. TO DECIDE TO KEEP OR REJECT THE RELATIONSHIP

AS OUR COLLECTIVE STORY REMINDS US, WE ARE BOUND TOGETHER FOR GOOD OR BAD. WE CAN’T BUILD A HOUSE ON A ROCKY FOUNDATION AND WE CAN’T MOVE FORWARD UNLESS WE TELL THE TRUTH OF OUR STORY! HAVING REMOVED THE CHAINS AND SHACKLES, LIKE A TAUT RUBBERBAND, FINALLY UNLEASHED, WE SHOULD ALL HAVE THE ABILITY TO FLY FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM TO THE WHITE HOUSE. HAVING COME SO FAR, YET NOW OUR TRAJECTORY FEELS MORE LIKE A SHIP LIFTING ANCHOR, MOVING ALL TOO SLOWLY--- BUT HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.


“IN A RECENT ARTICLE IN THE CHRONICLE OF PHILANTHROPY I HAPPENED TO TO READ, JUST LAST WEEK, “THAT AFTER THE WHITE RHETORIC WAS UNLEASHED INTO THE MAINSTREAM, VALERIE JARRETT AND KEECHA HARRIS, A HUMAN RESOURCE ADVISOR OF KHA & ASSOCIATES ISSUED A POWERFUL CALL TO ACTION FOR PHILANTHROPIC LEADERS, FOUNDATION CEO’S AND TRUSTEES TO MAKE THE BEST USE OF THEIR PHILANTHROPIC ASSETS TO DISMANTLE RACISM IN ALL FORMS. AND, AFTER OFTEN HEARING THE REFRAIN OF NOT KNOWING WHERE TO BEGIN, THEY (JARRETT AND HARRIS) OFFERED SEVERAL POWERFUL PRINCIPLES AMONG THEM: UNDERSTAND HISTORY, TARGET ROOT CAUSES, WORK FROM THE INSIDE -OUT AND CHANGE THE HOW. “


IN CONCLUSION, PEOPLE OF COLOR HAVE MADE INCREDIBLE CONTRIBUTIONS TO THIS COUNTRY---PAST AND PRESENT, AND JUST CONSIDER WHAT EVERYONE HAS LOST BY NOT VALUING FREEDOM, PERSONAL INTEGRITY AND THE LEGACY AND HISTORY OF OUR FOREFATHERS AND MOTHERS. AND, JUST IMAGINE, IF THE FULL VALUE, FREEDOM, POTENTIAL, INTEGRITY OF THE ENSLVAVED WERE REALIZED, AND THEY WERE FULLY ABLE TO CONTRIBUTE--- WHERE WE WOULD THEN BE, AS INDIVIDUALS, A COMMUNITY, A PEOPLE, NATION, A WORLD? PART OF WHAT BINDS OUR FAMILY TAPESTRY TOGETHER IS THE RESILIENCE OF OUR IDENTITIES FORGED BY OUR UNDERSTANDING OF AND PRIDE IN OUR ANCESTORS FOR WHAT THEY HAD TO ENDURE.


HENCE SLAVE QUARTERS SHOULD NEVER BE CELEBRATED. RATHER, THEY SHOULD SERVE AS IMPORTANT AND SOLOMN REMINDERS OF A TIME THAT WE , BLACKS AND WHITES TOGETHER, SHOULD VOW: TO NEVER ALLOW IT TO HAPPEN AGAIN. THIS MUST BE MANIFESTED IN OUR ACTIONS AND ADVOCACY NOT ONLY IN OUR THOUGHTS. WE MUST ELEVATE THE TEACHINGS OF THOSE WHO STAND WITH FORMER US SENATOR ALAN SIMPSON, WHEN COMMENTING ON THE LIFE OF OUR 41ST PRESIDENT, George H.W. Bush. HE SAID OF BUSH, “HE KNEW WHAT HIS MOTHER AND MY MOTHER ALWAYS KNEW; HATRED CORRODES THE CONTAINER IT’S CARRIED IN.”


SO, TOGETHER, WE MUST CAREFULLY TEACH ALL CHILDREN ABOUT OUR TRUE HISTORY. FOR THE STURDY BRIDGES THAT BROUGHT US ACROSS, WERE IN FACT THE BACKS OF OUR ENSLAVED LOVED ONES ON WHICH WE ALL NOW STAND. IT IS IN THEIR HONOR AND WITH DEEP THANKSGIVING --THAT WE GATHER THIS DAY. WE WILL NOW HONOR THE INDIVIDUALS WHO WERE ENSLAVED ON THIS PROPERTY BY READING THEIR NAMES AND REMEMBERING EACH.


I AM JOINED ON STAGE BY OTHER DESCENDANTS OF HENRY TAYLOR, MY SISTER, LYDIA RASPBERRY AND COUSIN, KATHERINE WILLIAMS, ALONG WITH HEIDI GERBER- SALINS, A DIRECT DESCENDENT OF ENSLAVED PLASTERER WILLIAM B. GOULD, AND MEMBERS OF THE BELLAMY MANSION MUSEUM’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS. 


MS. SARAH MILLER, BORN IN NORTH CAROLINA CIRCA 1815 MARRIED AARON SAMPSON AND LIVED NEAR 4TH AND RED CROSS AFTER EMANCIPATION UNTIL HER DEATH AROUND 1896 AT THE APPROXIMATE AGE OF 80. THERE IS NO DOCUMENTATION OF SARAH EVER HAVING CHILDREN (SHE WAS THE ONLY SLAVE GIVEN A TRULY PARTERNALISTIC TITLE OF "AUNT" AND WAS ALSO CALLED "OUR OWN OLD COOK").

MS. ROSELLA BELLAMY, BORN IN SOUTH CAROLINA CIRCA 1822 WAS A MOTHER TO TWO DAUGHTERS, HARRIETT AND CHARLOTTE POTTER, BEFORE GAINING HER FREEDOM AND MARRYING ALONZO SIMMONS IN 1866. SHE AND ALONZO LIVED IN WILMINGTON UNTIL HER DEATH SOMETIME AROUND 1880.

MR TONY BELLAMY, BORN IN NORTH CAROLINA CIRCA 1825 MARRIED ARBOR SULLIVAN PRIOR TO EMANCIPATION. THEY HAD TWO CHILDREN, KATE AND SOLOMON, BORN INTO SLAVERY AND THREE OTHERS, BETSEY, SARAH AND WILLIAM, BORN AFTER EMANCIPATION. TONY DIED SOMETIME BEFORE 1889 AROUND THE AGE OF 63. (DESCRIBED AS "AN OLD SLAVE AND HANDY MAN")

GUY NIXON, BORN IN NORTH CAROLINA CIRCA 1840, MARRIED SARAH KELLEY IN 1866. THE COUPLE REMAINED IN WILMINGTON NEVER MOVING FAR FROM THE BLOCKS OF 5TH AND MARKET. THERE ARE NO RECORDS OF GUY AND SARAH HAVING CHILDREN, AND NO DOCUMENTATION OF THE COUPLE IS KNOWN AFTER 1880. (THE COACHMAN, AND ALSO DESCRIBED AS "OUR BUTLER")

JOAN WAS BORN CIRCA 1840 AND HAD AT LEAST ONE CHILD, CAROLINE, BORN INTO SLAVERY. NO DOCUMENTATION IS CURRENTLY KNOWN ABOUT JOAN AFTER EMANCIPATION ("OUR NURSE, A VERY UNATTRACTIVE NEGRO WENCH")

MARY ANN NIXON, BORN IN NORTH CAROLINA CIRCA 1846 REMAINED AS A PAID SERVANT OF THE BELLAMY'S AND LIVED IN THE SLAVE QUARTERS BUILDING FOR SEVERAL YEARS AFTER EMANCIPATION. MARY ANN MOVED TO PENNSYLVANIA FOR SEVERAL YEARS IN THE 1880S AND RETURNED TO WILMINGTON WHERE SHE REMAINED UNTIL SHE PASSED AWAY SOMETIME IN THE 1930S.

CAROLINE, BORN IN NORTH CAROLINA CIRCA 1852 WAS THE DAUGHTER OF JOAN. CAROLINE LIVED IN WILMINGTON HER ENTIRE LIFE AFTER EMANCIPATION, BUT NO OTHER DETAILS ARE CURRENTLY KNOWN ABOUT CAROLINE ("LITTLE MAID, FOR HER MOTEHR ELIZA BELLAMY. SHE WROTE CAROLINE "FOLLOWED MY MOTHER FOOT TO FOOT" AND DESCRIBED HER AS A "NICE LITTLE GIRL").

HARRIET POTTER, BORN IN NORTH CAROLINA CIRCA 1855 WAS ONE OF ROSELLA'S DAUGHTERS WHO LIVED HERE IN THE SLAVE QUARTERS WITH HER BEFORE THE WAR. HARRIETT MARRIED STEPHEN HILL IN 1873, BUT NO FURTHER DOCUMENTATION OF HARRIETT IS KNOWN.

CHARLOTTE POTTER, BORN IN NORTH CAROLINA CIRCA 1857 WAS ANOTHER OF ROSELLA'S DAUGHTERS WHO LIVED HERE BEFORE EMANCIPATION. CHARLOTTE LIVED WITH HER MOTHER AND STEPFATHER. 

Gareth Evans, Executive Director of Bellamy Mansion Museum, gave an update on the outcomes from their 2018 Grant at the 2019 annual WIN Awards Luncheon. Read more about the presentation here



Bellamy Mansion

A 2018 Large Grant recipient, the Bellamy Mansion museum is using the funds to enhance its urban slave dwelling program, expanding related educational offerings and interpretation efforts that will help the public understand the lives of the enslaved people who lived there.

The Bellamy Mansion has one of the only intact urban slave quarters in the South, and they take that responsibility very seriously. The major restoration of the slave quarters has been completed, and they are now working to make it a catalyst for open and meaningful educational opportunities with a diverse audience


The Bellamy Mansion team is working on expanding their educational offerings with an increased focus on the enslaved workers who lived there. As rare as the building is, having a history of the enslaved workers is even rarer. The BellamyMansion is now completing the story by focusing on Sarah, Rosella, Joan, Mary Ann, Caroline, and three young unnamed girls, as well as Guy and Tony--all of whom lived on site as enslaved workers.


Through its support of new interpretative kiosks, a free publication with 
newly discovered research on the enslaved women, and an updated video, the WIN grant has had an impact on the visitor experience and bringing new understanding of the world of the ante-bellum mansion - for all of its participants. 


Photos of Bellamy Mansion:




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