The Great Migration: Indiscernibles in Arizona

We will be posting information about The Great Migration: Indiscernibles in Arizona, our exhibit about the experience of African-Americans in our state, online here for you to explore. Thank you to guest curator Clottee Hammons of Emancipation Arts for making this additional information available to us, so we can share it with you at this time.

  • Interview with Clottee Hammons

    See the Arizona PBS Horizonte interview with Guest Curator, Clottee Hammons as she talks about her exhibit, The Great Migration: Indiscernibles in Arizona.

  • About Dr. Lowell C. Wormley - Physician and Community Builder

    Dr. Wormley was born on November 4 1906 in Washington, D.C. to Mamie Louise Cheatham Wormley and G. Smith Wormley, who was then the principal of Randall Junior High School, Washington, D.C. Both of Dr. Wormley’s parents came from longstanding, well-known Washington, D.C. families.

    His paternal great-grandfather, James Wormley, owned a hotel in Washington, D.C. at 15th & H Sts. It was there that Charles Sumner lived and died, and it was also there that the Wormley House Agreement took place in 1877, an agreement that settled the Presidential election in 1876. Dr. Wormley’s maternal grandfather, Henry Plummer Cheatham, a Republican Congressman from North Carolina, also lived in the district.

    Dr. Wormley was graduated from Dartmouth College in 1927 where he stayed on for a two-year course of medical education. He then returned to Washington to complete his four years of medical training at the Howard University Medical School, where he finished with honors in 1931. He did his residency at Harlem Hospital in New York City, where he practiced until he joined the U.S. Army in 1941.

    In World War II, Dr. Wormley served as Captain in the Medical Corps at Fort Huachuca Regional Hospital. Following his honorable discharge from the Army, he was appointed Senior Medical Officer in charge of surgery at Poston Regional Hospital in Parker, Ariz. In 1946, he began the practice of medicine in Phoenix, a practice he continued for almost 40 years.

    Dr. Wormley was also engaged in numerous civic activities. He served on the staff of eight Phoenix hospitals as Chairman of the Board of the Arizona State Hospital. He also served on the boards of the Arizona Medical Society, the Salvation Army and the Maricopa Council of Campfire Girls of Arizona. He was a life member of the NAACP and served on the Board of the Phoenix Chapter. He also served as President of Phoenix Chapter of Dartmouth Alumni and was honored for his successful efforts to have his alma mater enroll American Indians, for whom Dartmouth College was originally established.

    The Phi Iota Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated, made its debut on October 1, 1946. Under the leadership of Dr. Lowell Wormley, Ernest Bartlett, and the late George Meares, six interested men traveled to Los Angeles, California and organized the Phi Iota Chapter. The six young pledgees were: William Warren, John Henry, Denzil Perdue, Dr. David Solomon, Lloyd Dickey and the Honorable H.B. Daniels.

    Dr. Lowell Wormley served as the first Basileus and helped initiate many good Omega Men. In December of 1947, Phi Iota Chapter hosted the Grand Conclave in Phoenix at the Del Webb Townhouse. Brothers from all over the country visited Phoenix for the first time.

    Dr. Wormley passed away on Saturday, January 18, 1986 at the Scottsdale, Arizona Convalescent Plaza.”

    This article was taken from Emancipation Arts Facebook Page

  • Home Remedies - Driven by Necessity

    Recollection of a Potent Remedy

    Hog Hoof Tea was a popular home remedy for a wide range of illnesses including the common cold which was utilized across the American South. There are records of its use among enslaved Africans prior to the Civil War.

    It was kept on the back of the stove with the spices and drippings container. I don’t know if the hoofs were naturally black or if they were burned black, but they resembled garlic clove shaped pieces of charcoal. Two pieces were boiled and then removed from the fire and covered. The “tea” was strained and served piping hot. This treatment was repeated as needed. The thought of another cup, I’m sure, contributed to many speedy recoveries.
    Many recipes used in past and current home remedies bear the distinctive influence of enslaved Africans. On plantations it was simple pragmatism treat illnesses and injuries of commodified Africans. Personnel that treated the enslaved could be physicians, plantation “mistresses”, overseers or other enslaved people. Distrust of white doctors was justified by the gory experiments freely conducted on enslaved people with no recourse to object. Dr Marion Sims perfected gynecological surgery on the enslaved. He used drugs causing addictions in order to immobilize the women. Hundreds of enslaved Africans in 1800 (including 200 of Thomas Jefferson’s slaves) were given smallpox in order to test how safe the new vaccine was. Dr Thomas Hamilton is known for placing slaves in open pits with their heads were above ground, supposedly in order to test what medication permitted someone to withstand a high temperature. Logically Blacks preferred to be treated by other Blacks or treat themselves. They would often conceal their illnesses even if it meant they would be punished if the slave-holder found out.

    “When the 1918 influenza epidemic began its deadly tour across the United States, African Americans were already beset by a host of major public health, medical, and social problems that shaped how they experienced the epidemic and how the epidemic affected them. By 1918, medical and public health reports had documented that African Americans suffered higher morbidity and mortality rates than white people for several diseases. The Atlanta Board of Health, for example, reported in 1900 that the black death rate exceeded that of the white death rate by 69%. In an analysis of the 1900 census, W.E.B. Du Bois, the influential sociologist and civil rights activist, found that African American death rates were two to three times higher than for white people for several diseases including tuberculosis, pneumonia, and diarrheal disease. Although African Americans had lower rates for scarlet fever, cancer, and liver disease, Du Bois concluded, “The Negro death rate is, however, undoubtedly considerably higher than the white.” Home remedy use is an often overlooked component of health self-management, with a rich tradition, particularly among African Americans and others who have experienced limited access to medical care or discrimination by the health care system.”

    In 1937 – “The Arizona State Board of Health, in commenting on (cotton pickers) contractors’ camps: Their camps are of a temporary nature, with no provision for proper water supply or sewage disposal and to operate under such conditions should be prohibited by law in the interest of public health and common humanity.” Home remedies can potentially interfere with biomedical treatments. This study documented the use of home remedies among older rural adults, and compared use by ethnicity (African American and white) and gender. A purposeful sample of 62 community-dwelling adults ages 65+ from rural North Carolina was selected. Each completed an in-depth interview, which probed current use of home remedies, including food and non-food remedies, and the symptoms or conditions for use. Systematic, computer-assisted analysis was used to identify usage patterns. Five food and five non-food remedies were used by a large proportion of older adults. African American elders reported greater use than white elders; women reported more use for a greater number of symptoms than men.

    Non-food remedies included long-available, over-the-counter remedies (e.g., Epsom salts) for which “off-label” uses were reported. Use focused on alleviating common digestive, respiratory, skin, and musculoskeletal symptoms. Some were used for chronic conditions in lieu of prescription medications. Home remedy use continues to be a common feature of the health self-management of older adults, particularly among African Americans, though at lower levels than previously reported. While some use is likely helpful or benign, other use has the potential to interfere with medical management of disease. Health care providers should be aware of the use of remedies by their patients.”

    Hog Hoof Tea “Recollections of a Potent Remedy” provided by exhibition Curator Clottee Hammons

  • Interview with Big Pete Pearson

    See Clottee Hammon’s interview with King of Arizona Blues, Big Pete Pearson

  • African-American Nurses Who Served During WWII

    African-American nurses have a long history of serving our country with distinction. Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman cared for the sick and wounded in Union hospitals during the Civil War, and African-American nurses served in the Spanish-American war, as well as the first and second World Wars. In World War II, African-American nurses were sent to care for German POWs at camps across the US, including one here in Florence, AZ.

    “On the summer afternoon in 1944 that 23-year-old Elinor Powell walked into the Woolworth’s lunch counter in downtown Phoenix, it never occurred to her that she would be refused service. She was, after all, an officer in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps serving her country during wartime, and she had grown up in a predominantly white, upwardly mobile Boston suburb that didn’t subject her family to discrimination…”

    Read more about Elinor’s story in this Smithsonian Magazine article – The Army’s First Black Nurses Were Relegated to Caring for Nazi Prisoners of War.


The Mission of Emancipation Arts is to honor our enslaved African ancestors through Arts practices, dissemination of relevant history and egalitarian collaborations.

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