Kandis Howard’s family members, including her mother’s siblings.

Hi there everyone! I’m Kandis Howard, Volunteer Program Coordinator at Lakeview Pantry and I am pleased to write this post in celebration of Black History Month. While writing this post, I thought about all the families that come through our doors in need of our services; in doing so, I thought about my own family and my family history. What I admire about black history is the importance of family. I’ve had the fortune to have my family’s history tracked and recorded through my cousin, Catrina Smith, who found some of the earliest known members of our family: Branch and Emma Williams, born in North Carolina in 1820 and 1824 respectively. They were both slaves who married in 1850 and had three children. Branch and Emma’s union birthed my maternal grandfather’s family. I’ve provided an abbreviated family tree from Branch and Emma to me below:

Branch and Emma Williams (1850)

Parthenia and Handsome E. Williams (1878)

Howard Williams and Mary (Dozier) Williams (??)

Herman Williams & Castella (Knox) Williams (1936)

Stella (Williams) Howard & Glenn Howard (1979)

Kandis Howard 🙂

Like many black families, my family endured slavery and sharecropping to forge better paths in the early 20th century. They’ve come to own their own land (a feat not too common for African Americans in the early 20th century) and took part in the Great Migration in search of greater opportunities for economic advancement. My mother was only 6 years old when she was sent from small town Forrest City, Arkansas to Chicago for a better education and more opportunities into her adult life. My mother’s journey north has allowed me to come into this world.

Just knowing a small piece of my family history gives me great appreciation for the people from whom I descend and connects me to the greater narrative of the black community and our history. In connecting with my past, I’m able to show love and support for my people, including at Lakeview Pantry, today knowing that we’re all testaments of great strength, resilience and pride.