Maryland co-authors discuss teaching the history of blacks, their origins in Virginia

Waller-Baden comments on recent debates across the country and especially in Virginia about teaching the history of black students. She says students need to know: “We are a diverse population and everyone can bring something wonderful.”

Jewel Waller Davis and Joyce Waller Baden are the authors of Our Brilliant Heritage: The Family History of Waller Dungey 1900-2020.

This report is part of the coverage of WTOP Month of Black History. Read more stories at WTOP.com.

In 2011, during the Retreat Sisters, women from the Waller family came together to share old family photos and share priceless memories. Over the years, they realized that the photos they shared were more than old photos; they told a unique story that two sisters decided to write and publish.

Jewel Waller Davis and Joyce Waller Baden are the authors of Our Brilliant Heritage: The Family History of Waller Dungey 1900-2020.

The book tells the story of the lives of Richard and Florence Danji Waller and their six children, Richard, Jewel, Joyce, Lillian, Betty and Barbara, who grew up in a separate Richmond, Virginia.

It also traces the roots of their paternal grandfather MC Waller, who was an early black entrepreneur who set up a jewelry business in 1900 in Richmond, which still exists today, Waller & Company Jewelers.

Joyce Waller-Baden, co-author of the book, says: “I wanted to leave information about our family for those who will come after us, to learn about the sacrifices and some of the experiences our ancestors had. ”

She says she also wanted to encourage others to write their family stories, warning that if stories are not documented, they will be lost.

Waller-Baden comments recent debates across the country and especially in Virginia by teaching Black History students. She says students need to know: “We are a diverse population and everyone can bring something wonderful.”

While co-author Jewel Waller Davis speaks today with a lot of negative news, “we felt it would give a different perspective and that all people should hear our positive story.”

Their story of resilience and strength. Through stories, pictures and anecdotes, the sisters tell how the family went through one of the most turbulent times in our history – from the 1940s to the 1960s – especially after the untimely death of Richard Waller at the age of 47.

In 2021 African American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS) named the book the winner of the AAHG International Book Award in the Non-Fiction: Historical category.

Jewel Waller Davis, wife and mother of four, has retired from the federal government, and Joyce Waller Baden, wife and mother of one child, has retired from the Maryland government. Both live in Maryland.

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