Black DAR Members Celebrate Their Ties to the Nation’s Independence


The Daughters of the American Revolution join together in Washington, D.C.

The Daughters of the American Revolution join together in Washington, D.C.

They are a group of African American women who have been able to trace their lineage to the nation’s founding patriots. They gathered for lunch five days before the nation was to celebrate its independence to discuss their role as Black members of the nation’s premiere heritage organization for women—the Daughters of the American Revolution.

There was Karen Batchelor, who is descended from a White man who fought in the Revolutionary War. There was Maria Williams-Cole, who has three Black relatives who participated in the war. There was Laura W. Murphy, who was scheduled to read from the Declaration of Independence at a special program slated for July 4th at the National Archives. They were in town to attend the annual convention of the 168,000-member DAR.

Murphy, great-granddaughter of AFRO founder John H. Murphy Sr. and descendant of Philip Livingston, one of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, believes there are thousands of descendants who simply can’t verify their relationships.
“I know there are [others],” she said. “The difficulty is supporting documentation. A lot of us can trace our ancestry, but because Blacks were treated as property…a lot of people don’t have documentation of the birth, death, marriages, of each generation, because that documentation either wasn’t required by the state or it wasn’t required for Black people.”