Black History Month always allows me to reflect on my ancestors and their impact on Black Futures. Since childhood, my Grandmother Alyce pushed me to practice consistently honoring and celebrating those around me. For Black History Month, we would reflect on which practices to bring into our lives to keep our ancestor’s legacy. This year, I am excited to celebrate my Grandmother Alyce and invite new practices of joy to honor her life.

My great-grandmother Alyce was one of the most powerful freedom fighters I have ever known. Born as the eldest daughter of George Trottie Barr and Hattie Bell Barr, my grandmother taught me so much about joy, liberation, and freedom. She was born in rural South Carolina to Gullah sharecropping parents. In her youth, she picked cotton and worked the local fields to pay for her education, graduating from Morris College in the 1940s. In her 20s, she spent years teaching in one-room schoolhouses all over rural South Carolina. My grandmother’s commitment to education and social justice began 14 years before Brown v Board of Education ended legalized racial segregation in public schools. My grandmother spent most of her life organizing with the NAACP and other civil rights, and labor organizations. Organizing and teaching were a central part of her life through her 80s.

Chi Ante-Jones's Grandma Alyce smiling cheerfully directly at camera with a family friend sitting next to her left.Her commitment to liberation would consistently put her and her family’s lives in danger, but that never stopped her from organizing and supporting others in seeking justice. During my childhood, she would show me pictures of her with other civil rights activists and would bring me to organizing campaigns across South Carolina. By the time I was in middle school, my grandmother, who was in her 80s, was actively archiving Black History in our local library so that the voices of many families, including ours, wouldn’t be lost to time. Those early years taught me the importance of storytelling and ingrained my love of history. Grandma Alyce would tell me stories about organizing, pain, and klansmen next to stories about sexual liberation, queer safe spaces, and pleasure. As a child, I had the pleasure of being seen by her as someone who was queer and sacred. She pushed and supported me as I came into my own by sharing her journey to learning about her sexuality and how it shaped her role in movement work. I fondly remember how she poured into me and nurtured the dualities within me. Grandma Alyce reminded me there was more to life than my liberation work. As she told me stories about her days of being chased by the Klan, organizing rallies, and coordinating meetings, she regularly reminded me that she filled her movement moments with pleasure, fashion, and giggles.  


In moments of deep Black pain and trauma caused by the numerous murders of Black folks, and the consistent harm coming to Black queer folks, I remember the other side of our push for Black Liberation. In seeking justice for those harmed, I moved to seek joy, pleasure, and liberation for myself. As I grieve for the life of Pebbles LaDime ‘Dime’ Doe and other Black Trans victims of violence, I feel the lessons and the practices of my Grandma calling me into deep care with myself and my community. I am regularly reminded of her commitment to joy and pleasure as equal parts of the equation to liberation as organizing, building, and writing. In search of Alyce’s garden and the blessing she has planted for me, I am constantly calling pleasure and joy into my life. As we celebrate this Black history month, I am grateful for an ancestor that calls me to wear soft fabrics, enjoy sweet desserts, and never miss an opportunity to dance. I am sure somewhere she is proud of the legacy of Black liberation I carry in her honor. This year, I am deepening my practice of gardening. Both to engage in community care and ground me in the healing properties of land and communing with nature. I hope you find ways to search for your ancestor’s gardens and share what fruit they bear for you.


Woman with a headwrap and glasses with a joyful smile. The image has a monochrome filter with a green background.Written by: Chi-ante Jones (she/her)
Kolibri Foundation Co-Director