By Walter B. Curry, Jr., Ed. D

The Awakening: The Seawright-Ellison Family Saga, Vol. 1, A Narrative History


The Awakening: The Seawright-Ellison Family Saga, Vol.1, A Narrative History, is the first volume in a narrative history about the descendants of two families that share a common ancestor, Martha Kitchings Seawright Ellison, born into slavery, in 1849, in Aiken County, South Carolina. The book documents the beginnings of the family saga through Martha’s life during slavery, The Civil War, The Reconstruction Era, and family life in Aiken County and beyond. The book documents the saga with contextualized resurrected stories of relatives forgotten over the years who were contributory figures of African American history in Aiken County, South Carolina, and beyond.

The book includes the famed stories of relatives who were born and lived in Aiken County. Floster L. Ellison, Jr., who during the Civil Rights Movement, became the co-founder of the Palmetto State Barbers Association, the first African American Barber Inspector in the state of South Carolina, and the first Director of Social Services of Crafts-Farrow State Hospital in 1965, because of racial integration of the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. Tommy Ellison, whose experiences as a youth singing on the children choir at Smyrna Missionary Baptist Church, inspired him to pursue a legendary career in gospel music, affectionately known by his fans as “Mr. Superstar of Gospel.” Roosevelt & Henry Seawright who were successful brick masons in the Aiken community, and Wallace Seawright, Sr. who strategically survived the pitfalls of sharecropping life who was successfully employed as a textile technician at Graniteville Manufacturing Company.





By Walter B. Curry, Jr., Ed. D

The Thompson Family: Untold Stories From The Past (1830-1960)


Through the stories of enslaved ancestors and notable relatives, The Thompson Family: Untold Stories from The Past (1830-1960) chronicles the rich history of an prominent African American family from the Wagener and Salley communities of Aiken County, South Carolina that features stories of individuals who were enslaved, served in the Civil War, achieved entrepreneurial success during the Jim Crow era, and much more. The book includes an appendix section which consists of individual pictures, documented history of places and events, and primary sources.

The book is the 2019 African American Genealogical and Historical Society Book Award Winner (Non-Fiction/Genealogy) and Literary Titan Gold Award Winner.

Award winning Author

Walter B. Curry, Jr., Ed. D

Walter B. Curry, Jr., Ed. D is a native of Orangeburg, South Carolina. Dr. Curry received a bachelor’s degree in political science from South Carolina State University, and has earned several graduate degrees in education, which includes a doctorate degree in Curriculum & Instruction from Argosy University,

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Sarasota. Dr. Curry has taught middle school social studies for five years and currently is an adjunct professor of education at Claflin University.


In 2018, Dr. Curry launched Renaissance Publications, LLC. On September 1, 2018, he published his first genealogy book, The Thompson Family: Untold Stories from the Past (1830-1960). The book chronicles the reflections and experiences of his relatives that shed new light on African American History in Aiken County and South Carolina.  In October 2019, Dr. Curry received the 2019 African American Historical and Genealogy Society Book Award in the Non-Fiction Category-Genealogy for his book. On February 12, 2020, the South Carolina Legislature recognized Dr. Curry for his significant work in service to African American History and Heritage in South Carolina and congratulate him on his book award.


Dr. Curry is a member of several civic, historical, and professional organizations which includes: South Carolina Genealogical Society, South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce, Aiken-Barnwell Genealogical Society,  Friends of the Aiken County Historical Museum, Aiken County Historical Society, Old Edgefield District Genealogical Society, African American Historical and Genealogical Society.  He is also a volunteer for the International African American Museum. As a volunteer, he coordinates outreach efforts to local stakeholders to solicit memberships and partnerships.


In addition, Dr. Curry has done several book signings and presentations at local conferences, workshops, bookstores, and schools across the state and nationwide. His most recent project is “Salley and The Thompson Family” an exhibit in the Aiken County Historical Museum that featured the founding of Salley, South Carolina and the illumination of his ancestors and relative stories through artifacts and primary sources.


Dr. Curry currently lives in Columbia, South Carolina with his wife, Takiyah S. Curry, who is a registered nurse and graduate of the University of South Carolina. They have two sons, Braxton & Braylon.


Schedule an Event

Below are some of the ways you can engage Renaissance Publications for presentations and speaking engagements.

Group Presentations

Writing Family History: The Narrative History Approach

Narrative history is the practice of writing history in a story-based form. It tends to entail writing based on reconstructing a series of short-term events about individuals or specific events in a broader context.  Learn about how to write a narrative history about your relatives.

Examples from the acclaim book, The Awakening: The Seawright-Ellison Family Saga, Vol.1, A Narrative History will be used during the presentation.

Presentation mode: Online or In-Person

The Personal Story of Martha Kitchings Seawright Ellison-An African American Woman's Journey From Slavery, Reconstruction Era, and Beyond

The presentation features the story of Martha Kitchings Seawright Ellison, born into slavery in 1849, in Aiken County. It continues through state and local history of the Civil War & Reconstruction Era,  Martha’s sharecropping life during the Reconstruction Era in Barnwell County, the founding of Aiken County and its economic challenges afterwards, and Martha’s family life in Aiken County.

Presentation mode: Online or In-Person


Lavinia C. Thompson-The Personal Story of Slavery, The Civil War, and Family Life in South Carolina

The presentation will focus on the fascinating story of Lavinia C. Thompson who was born into slavery in South Carolina on June 3, 1844 in Aiken County. She would follow her master into battle in the Civil War, serving the Confederate army as a cook. Six decades later, Lavinia would be among about 100 black South Carolinians who received small pensions for their involuntary service to the Confederate cause.

Presentation mode: Online or In-Person


South Carolina African American Confederate Pensioners

Do you know that there were over 100 African American Confederate Pensioners from 42 of the 46 counties across South Carolina?  This presentation will cover the initial usage of enslaved labor to South Carolina military efforts during the Civil War; the diverse roles of African American Confederate Pensioners during the Civil War; South Carolina approval of Confederate pensions for African Americans; notable features of South Carolina African American Pensioner application. The presentation will also offer suggestions for historical and genealogical projects to broaden the stories of South Carolina African Confederate Pensioners.

Presentation mode: Online or In-Person


Writing Family History Book Series: The Narrative Inquiry Approach
A narrative is a story or an account. While there is no mainstream research design in family history, narrative inquiry is a research method that uses narratives as units of analysis to contextualize and interpret to create meaning. Learn about how to incorporate narrative inquiry to research and write your family history book. Examples from the award-winning book, The Thompson Family: Untold Stories From the Past (1830-1960) will be used during the presentation.

Speaking Engagements

Book Dr. Curry for your next speaking engagement. 

“Reviving historical scholarship through ancestry”

Upcoming Events

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