This Week's Pod Cast


Hello and welcome back. Today is Friday August 13, 2010. My name is Angela Walton-Raji and this is the African Roots Podcast. You can always reach me at:


Everyone is getting ready for the upcoming conference next week in Knoxville TN.  I am referring to the FGS Conference which takes place August  18-21.  An interesting tidbit about the FGS conference, I understand that will be there and will be offering a free scanning service to participants. What a great time to get digitized images of your old  photos and old documents. This will take place Thursday through Saturday at the conference in the Exhibit Hall.

I know lots of reunions are taking place in August as well as other events are coming into the lineup for Fall of this year.

I am also preparing for a trip again to Reno Nevada!  I shall be speaking at Bethel AME church and will be making a presentation on the history of the church, the community, and will hopefully be researching the history of some of the elders of the church’s congregation as well.  This will be August 20-21st in Reno.

August 28

I received a flyer from a dear friend in Virginia who shared with me an upcoming lecture on August 28, about the families enslaved at Monticello.  We hear a lot about the Hemings of course but little else about others enslaved at Monticello. Sam Towler of “The Court Doth Order”, will present his work on the Monticello families during the Levy Period.  This will occur on the 28th at Fluvanna County Public library at 12:00 noon.  Phone: 434.806.7433 or for more info. Sponsored by AAHGS Chapter of Central Virginia

In September those in Newport News Virginia will be able to attend an event on the 11th, when two family history presentations will be held.  Nathan Richardson and Druscilla Pair will present at the Suffolk Downtown Street Festival.  Mr. Richardson will focus on the history of Oral storytelling in the family tradition, and Drusilla Pair will give a basic genealogy presentation.  Her focus will be basic documents, public records and also DNA for genealogical research.

September 18, 2010 the Baltimore County African American Heritage festival will take place. This is always a great event, in Towson, Maryland.

African Ancestry on the Road! As you know AfricanAncestry, the DNA company is on the road. Last night they were in Baltimore and I had a great time speaking with the folks from African Ancestry as well as seeing some old friends.  By the way—if you catch them on the tour—there is a significant discount to the  process, on the cost of the DNA test, and this is a great time to take it, and learn another part of the family history in a unique way.  They are in Philadelphia today and this next week they will be in the New York/New Jersey area, then on to Connecticut and their final stop will be in Boston, concluding an amazing week. So,  if you have ever had questions on DNA, and what it is all about—-then this is a great time to learn more about what the process entails and exactly what is being explored when one takes a DNA test.   The  best news is that they are offering the test at a discount as well, so this is the time to go and to listen to the presentation.


Muscogee Creek Indian Freedmen Band will hold a premiere of their documentary, called Bloodlines. This will take place on September Saturday, September 25, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. at the Reed Center in Midwest City, Ok. “Bloodlines” is independently produced and directed by Camara and Chantel Rose of Get Focused films.  “Bloodlines” tells the story of a group of people who were suddenly removed from their tribe in 1979.  They were African Creek citizens and this is story not known by many.

The Documentary premiere gala raises scholarship funds for students of African Native American descent attending an accredited college or university. Scholarship application and criteria is available at


There is still time if you did not do so already, to submit a proposal for the national AAHGS conference in October at the University of Maryland in Adelphi Maryland. The deadline to submit proposals has been extended, so do consider making a presentation there for this October.

Also those of you in the midwest know that October is also conference time for the Chicago African American Genealogical & Historical Society.  The same weekend they are hosting their annual conference. It will take place on South University Avenue in Chicago at the Church of Latter Day Saints. Their theme this year is Take the Long Road and Not the Short Cut.

Arkansas–Proposals are being taken for a conference in January 2011 at the University of Arkansas Ft. Smith, on the Civil War.  There is a strong interest in capturing the history of the United States Colored Troops in Arkansas, and proposals pertaining to the USCTs from Arkansas are welcomed.  Yes that is one of my states and I have submitted a proposal to speak there.

Call For Papers and Presentations “The Civil War in Arkansas: Voices from the Dust” will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the war and its repercussions in Arkansas. A wide range of topics will be covered, including effects on civilian life, military involvement, both Union and Confederacy, involvement of Native Americans, Freedmen, and slaves, individual military campaigns, bushwhackers, and the effects on Arkansas then and now, etc. We are looking for submissions of scholarly papers and also presentations, such as music and living history. The conference is open to students, faculty, administrators, independent history scholars and living historians.  For information contact Martha Siler.

I want to direct you to a great website brought to my attention this past week by a young man Mr. Will Bennett from Portland Oregon. The site is called the Golden West Project: Black in Portland History.  He is presenting the history of the city in a great way and he has also brought together other good sites that reflect this rich history of a vibrant community that thrived against the odds.

His site links to a larger site African American Historical District. Another very interesting site was Central City Concern. There is an audio file with two gentlemen recording their own memories of the hotel and life in Portland. The hotel served as a center of African American social life until the hotel’s closure in 1931.  It later reopened again and operated till 1959 as a hotel catering exclusively to a black clientèle.

I mention this site, because much of the data includes information on activities that surrounded the heart of Black social life in Portland, which was the Golden West Hotel—the only hotel that catered to an African American clientele for decades.  Apparently several years ago, the hotel reopened, and serves as a focal point for much of the black history of Portland.  The hotel was built in the19th century, opening originally as the Tremont hotel.  By 1905 it became the largest Pacific Coast hotel that hosted African Americans.  It was the only hotel in Oregon for African Americans for several decades, it was a destination site for many blacks in the community—including it becoming a place to go “after church”, catering to the local community.

I will also point out that the folks in Portland also have a Facebook community.  I found myself learning a lot about Portland and an amazing spirit that seems to come from there.  The websites as well as seeing them on Facebook and in general celebrating their history, is to me a model for others who are documenting their communities. I mention these sites in particular, because they have taken their local history, confronted  it, and presented it online, reflecting the history and challenges of a proud African American community.  It is this kind of site that can become a model for other communities to follow.

Tell the stories, bring out the old photos.  I know that there are many historically black high schools that have closed since the 1960s and many of them have active alumni organizations.  In Ft. Smith Arknasas, there was a recent Lincoln High School reunion.  In Ardmore Oklahoma there is the Dunbar-Douglas Reunion, in places like Muskogee and Tulsa there are reunions for Manual Training High School, and Booker T. Washington, and on and on, throughout the country.  These schools, these churches, these businesses such as the Golden West, were often the center of the city’s social life for the black community, and sometimes by embracing the city’s history, one can gain so much knowledge about the people who were part of those communities.  Look at your own community and wherever the community’s center of activity occurred, it’s time to research it, talk about it, tell the story, create a website, go on Facebook and create a community and celebrate who you are.

Use Golden West as a model.  Appreciate the info that is there—but then look at it again—but this time for the structure.  Look at what has been compiled—I am sure that your own communities have stories, that though unique, can be presented in a similar pattern.   I was very impressed to have a chance to admire the work of Mr. Bennett, and hope that he will inspire others to tell the stories of their hometown as well.  No matter how large, or how small.  If you live in a really large city like Chicago—then tell the story of the old family neighborhood.  You don’t have to try to become the next DuSable museum—-tell your own neighborhood history instead.  Lots of opportunities and with Mr. Bennetts’s site of the Golden West, you have a great model to follow.

Well that’s it for this week, folks.  Have a great week, and please keep doing what you do.

Keep researching, keep documenting, and keep sharing what you find!

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