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Mary Lee Brady, Ph.D.

Interviewing Ex-Slaves









Nancy Harriette Lee's Observations From 1904 -1996

Nancy Harriette Lee (1904-1996) of generation #64 (1890-1919) in the Messianic calendar, ... was always confident that she was born of love between her mother Mary Elizabeth Butler Lee (18-   ) and father Thomas Findley Lee (1859-1942) in an extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins and grand-parents that made life meaningful for her existence and aspirations. 

At ten years of age, she was a gifted reader in a family of readers for at least two generations, ... when World War I erupted and three of her brothers were conscripted in the United States military, to help America's segregationist President Woodrow Wilson "save the world for democracy."  By the time of war's ending, she was in her sixteenth year of life and no longer shielded from the world of race based behavior.  Prosperity in the 1920s, before the depression, did not remove or relax racist public and private policies barring African-Americans in the skilled and licensed trades, ... and her father was finally forced to forego operating a livery business in Ohio.

She lived until her death believing that families, not governments, are the critical resources in the nurture, inspiration, motivation, and education to save children for useful lives. She embraced the Messianic philosophy of life by JESUS.  In addition to her mother and father in Bloomington, Ohio she had the benefits of grand-mother Harriett Hemings Butler Spears(18 -  1926  ) and grandmother Nancy Banister Lee (1825-1912) who shared with her their hopes and aspirations for her to be educated to help herself by helping others. 

As a child she listened and learned the stories of their lives that served to help indoctrinate her own.  Nancy's grandmother Harriett had been born free in a stabilized family environment sustained by a father who earned money as a journeyman carpenter and part-time farmer.  Her father, Madison Hemings, was perhaps one of the first family members to embrace the newly founded republican party and election of Abraham Lincoln.

Harriett was educated in Ohio where she supported the abolitionist movement as most African-Americans in the state did as a matter of ideology nurtured since at least Ohio's founding in 1802 as a free-state.  Harriett married a union army volunteer (.... Butler) who was killed in 1864 during the war to end slavery. 

She later married Henry Spears, a prominent Civil War veteran; and, upon death was buried adjacent to both men she had loved and married. As a testament of her love, grand-daughter Nancy Harriett Lee requested and received burial in 1996 next to her beloved Grandma Spears. 

Becoming an educated adult in the era after Woodrow Wilson, ... Nancy acknowledged, as Dr. Dubois had predicted, the 20th century in America would be defined mainly by the color-line, ... so far as African-Americans were concerned.  Nancy perceived that rampant racism among major publishers beginning around the election of Woodrow Wilson to the Presidency, ... discouraged and prevented publishing or using scholarly works by African-Americans. Indeed, Wilson in the White House viewed and cited the violently anti-Black movie "Birth of a Nation" as historically accurate,... even though the Ku Klux Klan ideology refuted the ideals set forth in the American Declaration of Independence. 

Like most other enlightened and educated African-Americans up from the realties of revolution and civil war in America, ... the Declaration of Independence written by her ancestor Thomas Jefferson in 1776, whether intentionally or unintentionally, was read by men like Prince Hall and thousands of others as affording hope  to their aspirations to achieve life, liberty and pursuit of happiness in the new states, that would unite as a nation after the rebellion ended in 1783 and adopted a constitution during 1787-1789. 


Here is a list of distinguished Black scholars as an example of what White America refused to acknowledge or even circulate in their libraries.   In her view, the tragedy of Woodrow Wilson (in the eyes of African-Americans) has been historically ignored by most scholars. Both at home and abroad, President Wilson was not a friend or defender of any people of African heritage. 

Nancy Lee was throughout her life, like most family members, ... a registered republican in the beliefs and traditions of Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, etc.  She believed these men shared her Messianic beliefs; ... that uneducated people emancipated from slavery had a need to be born into and integrated in balanced and harmonious family units, neighborhoods and Christian communities motivated and strong enough to survive more than a single generation. 

Her disapproval of Franklin Roosevelt was not so much that he was a democrat, ... but had a lot to do with his appointments of policy-makers who intentionally or unintentionally disrupted and prevented public support for family goals and values among impoverished African-American populations still shackled with effects of slave cultures.  As New York Governor and U.S. President he (FDR) empowered ruthless bigots such as Robert Moses and uneducated politicians like David L. Lawrence .

World War II events and effects  helped improve opportunities for African-American professionals and provided employment incomes for millions of working poor.  The war also afforded a mirror as to the nature of bigotry and ultimate ends when millions of men decide others are not worthy of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness ... under law. She noted the Germans and Japanese were the most law abiding people on earth, both before and after the war.

Nancy viewed most, if not all, slum clearance and urban renewal schemes as little more than public financed programs to enrich developers by dispersing impoverished African-Americans from family and neighborhood foundations. She noted that many African-American professionals were political pawns and puppets in what has now been reaped in places like Pittsburgh.




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