Daughters of the American Revolution honor the memory of one of its first African-American members on the West Coast, Dr. Nelle Becker Slaton, at cemetery dedication ceremony.
In an historic gathering, Hollywood Chapter DAR members, friends and family of Nelle Becker Slaton, Ph.D., assembled Sunday, November 21, 2010 at Inglewood Park Cemetery for the Society’s traditional ceremony dedicating the memorial insignia engraved on her gravestone. The State Regent of the California State Society DAR, Karon Jarrard, was present to conduct the dedication.
Dr. Slaton, who died Dec. 1, 2009 at age 88, made history in October 1996 when she was inducted into the Hollywood Chapter as a Daughter of the American Revolution. According to Dr. Slaton’s daughter Shell Amega, also a member of the same chapter, “Mom spent three decades researching the family lines to trace and prove our roots back to Revolutionary War ancestor Pvt. Daniel Perry of Rhode Island, an Indian of the Narragansett tribe. Her acceptance into DAR was the culmination of a dream she fulfilled on behalf of her maternal grandmother who knew the family’s eligibility.”
DAR membership eligibility is based on direct lineage to a Revolutionary War patriot regardless of race, religion or ethnic background,” explains Hollywood Chapter Regent Sarah Kaiman. She adds, “Since DAR application papers do not require members to identify their race, no demographics have ever been kept on the membership. However, it is believed Dr. Slaton is among the first African American members on the West Coast.” Dr. Slaton’s ancestor, Pvt. Daniel Perry, was on the Narragansett Tribal Council. He, like others in the tribe, fought with the 1st Rhode Island Regiment-an all-Black regiment of approximately 450 soldiers. (All persons of color were incorporated into this all-Black regiment, including the Narragansett tribal members.)
Once inducted, Dr. Slaton inspired her daughter, Shell Amega, and then her granddaughter, Marika Amegah, to become members, creating the chapter’s sole three-generation member family.
Nelle Becker Slaton was an active member and officer of the Hollywood Chapter from the start. A lifelong educator, she served in a number of roles for the chapter, including Librarian for 8 years and Historian for two years. At various junctures, she also chaired the chapter’s Good Citizens Committee, the American History Committee and Public Relations Committee. She received recognition from the National Society for her work on the Good Citizens Committee and participation in the Women’s Issues Essay contest.
Following the dedication, Hollywood Chapter hosted a reception tea for guests at the Hancock Park home of Slaton family friends Delores and Ben Kerr. Chapter Historian Phyllis Hansen says “Nelle was remembered at the event as a truly remarkable and beloved woman, a high-achiever who inspired so many others to greater accomplishments themselves. She worked tirelessly towards the National Society DAR mission of patriotism, education and historic preservation, helping the chapter carry out these principles on a local level.” She adds, “Nelle was also a active ambassador for DAR’s cultural diversity, quick to teach that many men and women of color were amongst our nation’s very first patriots and heroes.”
Hollywood Chapter DAR will celebrate the 100-year anniversary of its charter in January 2011 and has dedicated its new Centennial Yearbook to Dr. Nelle Becker Slaton.
The DAR, founded in 1890 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a non-profit, non-political volunteer women’s service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America’s future through better education for children.
Regent, California State Society DAR:
District IX Director, California State Society:
DAR Hollywood Chapter Officers:
Sarah Kaiman, Regent
Karen Nugent, 1st Vice Regent
Shell Amega, 2nd Vice Regent
Dawn Murphy, Recording Secretary
Alice Magner, Corresponding Secretary
Tillie Moore, Treasurer
Phyllis Hansen, Historian
Christina Johnson, Chaplain
Dr. Helyn Luechauer, Parliamentarian
Notable – Friends and Family of Dr. Nelle Becker Slaton (among the many that were present):
William Henry Slaton (Dr. Nelle’s husband)
Glenn Slaton (Dr. Nelle’s son)
Adolph Eric Becker and wife Dorothy Becker
Dr. Josephine Yelder
Dr. Ted Miller
Wilma and Lorenzo Willis
Dr. Joyce Craft and husband Chet Atty. Raymond C. Reed
Atty. Stella Albright
Dr. Cille Washington
Delores and Ben Kerr
Reception Tea Menu:
Handmade scones, served with raspberry and blueberry jams and lemon curd
Six varieties of handmade tea sandwiches
Wide selection of pastries and cookies
Selection of teas and apple cider, served in the Chapter’s vintage engraved tea service.
The National Society DAR recently released a genealogical resource guide, “Forgotten Patriots: African American and American Indian Patriots in the Revolutionary War,” which identifies thousands of African American and American-Indian Revolutionary War patriots and documents their important contributions to the cause of Independence.