This Week's Pod Cast


Welcome back to the African Roots Podcast!
I can be reached at

I hope you have all had a good week and I hope that everyone in the midwest and south is safe. I know that some very serious weather fronts have moved through bringing everything from snow to hail to tornadoes. My thoughts and prayers are for your safety!

A shout out to friends in Arkansas who are attending a major historical event. The 72nd Annual conference of the Arkansas Historical Society is taking place. The theme is: Helena – West Helena Claiming Freedom”. That kind of makes this a landmark event-having this kind of theme itself. I must commend the Arkansas Historical Society for selecting the topic and it looks like an impressive event! This is a landmark event because Arkansas- part of the Confederacy is celebrating the Freedom claimed by thousands of enslaved people who lived, toiled and died on the Mississippi Delta as enslaved people and who eventually won their right to be free people. This event is exploring the Civil War in Arkansas and it is examining the impact on the war, on one of the largest groups of occupants of the state at that time–the enslaved people. This is rarely done, and the program looks amazing. I am so happy to see this event and although much of the discussion focuses on eastern Arkansas during the War, they will also bring forth additional stories of how freedom came to other communities as well. This is one of those events that I wish that I had been able to attend, as so many of the topics interest me.

Speaking of the Civil War,  I have had some interesting experiences this week hearing from people who have stumbled upon my blogs. On my Civil War blog I wrote about contraband camps in eastern Arkansas and lives of the people who lived there. In that post, I shared some documents that I had found from the Freedman’s Bureau. Well, I got a wonderful letter from a gentleman who runs an amazing facility in eastern Arkansas, near Helena–the community that I wrote about—and he shared information with me about a park devoted to the contrabands who lived there.  I am often moved by the fact that sometimes the people I hope to enlighten, end up enlightening me as well. I was so happy that he shared what he did with me, about developments honoring the freedom seekers in the contraband camps.

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Many of you know that I used social media a lot. Well, I saw something interesting that was shared on Twitter. A Smithsonian archivist shared some data from a 170-year-old notebook with lists of words in several languages collected from African slaves in Rio de Janeiro. The archivist has been working on this old ledger reflecting that goes into such detail, including traditional markings among African slaves taken to Brazil. This is from the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS). I mention it, because sometimes we forget to think beyond our own families, or communities. We are part of a much larger family–including those enslaved in other countries. I am reminded of this every time I get a new match through the DNA companies that I have test with. I have received matches from places as far away as Brazil, Portugal, and other parts of the globe. I often DNA as way to fill in the gaps when there is no paper trail. But article such as the one I linked to from Twitter, also reminded me that there are sometimes records–though just not widely known and not before now accessible. But we do connect with a larger world, and knowing that such things are appreciated for the data they contain reminds us all that we still have so much more to do.

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Keep your calendars up to date everyone—Philadelphia–two weeks from today from 9 – 3:00 an African American Genealogical event will take place at the Family History Center in downtown Philadelphia. The following week, May 4th in Washington DC–the All Day Genealogical Conference will be held at the Latter Day Saints Family History Center, in Kensington MD.

And June is not far away–California Jamboree, and Samford Institute of Genealogy—I can’t to get there to present, and more importantly, to listen and to learn!!

Two scholarships are announced for MAAGI–the Midwestern African American Genealogical Institute. The AfriGeneas Scholarship Award, and the Evolution Consulting Group Award. There is still time–but you are urged to examine both of those awards–you might win! For more information, click HERE.

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Don’t forget to tune into Bernice Bennett’s show each week. Her guest last night was Leslie Anderson Special collections librarian at the Alexandria VA Public Library. Bernice’s guest host was Natonne Kemp. This was a great show with information on how to take advantage of special collections and how to ask and what to ask for when entering the Special Collections department of a public library. Also if one is doing research in Washington DC, then it might be useful to include a visit to the Alexandria Public Library in addition to the National Archives and the Library of Congress.

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Anyone you know seeking a position as an archivist?

Association of Research Libraries – Washington, DC
Congressional District: DC_01
Award Amount: $487,652; Matching Amount: $348,026
Category: Master’s Level Programs
Contact: Mark Puente
Director of Diversity and Leadership Programs
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Society of American Archivists (SAA) will develop a diversity recruitment program extending SAA’s Mosaic Scholarship program to provide 15 masters students in archival science or special collections librarianship with financial support, paid internships in libraries and archives, mentoring relationships, leadership development, and career placement assistance. The Mosaic program responds to low minority representation of the professional workforce and is modeled after other diversity recruitment efforts. The program will expand and enhance the recruitment, training, and development of library and archives professionals from traditionally underrepresented ethnic and racial minority groups within the context of large, complex research organizations.
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Well,  thank you for taking time to listen to the podcast and for sharing your events. I appreciate all of you and am honored to interact with so many of you. Please continue to share and to exhibit your spirit of giving and camaraderie  And remember to keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find.

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