This is an extremely important document in African-American history. The photos are so spectacular that they may detract from the true message — 10 black children who obtained high educations and made their marks on the world.

Larry Epstein
Memphis, TN

I knew your beautiful mom. I even knew who you were as a very young man. You have had an incredible professional career. It is obvious that there is a book in you. I agree — families are important!

Marilouise Smith-Mays
East Lansing, MI

Wow. I am absolutely impressed and astounded with this effort. And even though I am of no relation to Mel, I am proud that a Black family has such a rich and verifiable history such as his. I can only wish that I had nearly as strong familial bonds as yours. Congratulations, Mel.

Adonis Pointer

I'm only about half way through this quite remarkable family story. Where Mel found the time or patience to do it is beyond me but it is a first-rate piece of work. I wish my family had a document even remotely resembling this. Present and future descendants of this family will cherish the family history recorded here. Congratulations to Mel and all others involved.

Alan Carter

My parents are from the IXL, Chandler and Davenport area of Eastern Oklahoma. My mother's name is Minnie Mae Smith and she recalls this family and had very nice things to say about their accomplishments. Thank you for placing this website on the Internet for others to view and enjoy. I am a public librarian in Oklahoma City and your website was discussed in an Oklahoma History workshop at the state library. Keep up the good work.


Darcus D. Smith, M.L.I.S. Belle Isle Library
Midwest City, OK


What an incredible job you have done of compiling the history of an extraordinary family. This is a remarkable historical document and hopefully will inspire many people to explore their own family history — it certainly has me!

Jane Peyton
Los Angeles, CA

Interesting reading, very factual and nice details about this family. Love the photographs!! They are great. Hopefully, this will encourage many African American families to begin collecting their family history along with family pictures and memento's and begin sharing like this. We have so many good stories. The value system that Mr. Chatman tells us about is what got almost all Black/Colored families through during those times. Hopefully, he will do more research on the Nova Scotia period.

Louis Owens