This Week's Pod Cast


Welcome back to the African Roots Podcast! You can reach me at


Remembering Slavery Project

 Well February unfolds as event for African American History Month proceed. Coming out of  theMiddle Peninsula area of Virignia, an event will take place tomorrow. A special Black History Month Program will be held on Saturday, February 8, 2014, at 11:00 a.m. at the Historic Courthouse, General Puller Highway, Saluda, Virginia. The Historic Courthouse is located at the intersection of General Puller Highway and Gloucester Road. Their special featured guest will be College of William and Mary anthropologist Michael Blakey who  will talk about his own work called  Remembering Slavery, Resistance and Freedom Project (the Remembering Project) and its search for historic African-American cemeteries throughout Virginia. David Brown, archeologist and Co-director of the Gloucester-based Fairfield Foundation, will describe the cemetery component of the Foundation’s work in the Middle Peninsula. More information is available HERE.

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Genealogists Uses Skills to Develop Historical Play

Congratulations to Drusilla Pair for the successful portrayal of her play Flight to Freedom this past week in Hampton Virginia at the Hampton Museum. You know this play emerged from her research of an historic house in the community, the James Fields House. A diary was found years ago and she studied the diary and also used her genealogy skills to research the Fields family that lived there. From her work the story of Mrs. Martha Field emerged and as she fondly calls her Ms. Martha, the story of bravery of this once enslaved woman emerged! Well her play took place on Monday of this week, at the Hampton Museum and reviews and remarks were all in praise of the play itself and the two women in the story, portrayed by Drusilla Pair and Ajena Fields a direct descendant of the Fields family. This is an example of how one can use genealogical skills and take them in a completely different direction.

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Black Belt Genealogy Conference and Expo

An announcement just came out today from Alabama about an event for next week. The Black Belt African American Genealogy Conference will take place next Saturday February 15th at the Selma Dallace County Public Library. The event is free. Note that space is limited so you should register now. More information can be found HERE. 

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A Fascinating Re-enactment

I mentioned Drusilla Pair’s play–well I would like to direct you to last night’s rebroadcast of the Bernice Bennett showon Blog Talk Radio.  Last night the listeners were treated to a reenactment of a short play—“Stories on the Way to Sandy Springs.” This was a  short but moving piece of women who ended up in a place called Sandy Springs during the horrible period of enslavement.  I am quite fascinated at taking note that others are taking snippets from the lives of 19th century women and men, to tell amazing stories.

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Another Genealogist Portrays Family History

By the way a similar reenactment will be featured a the upcoming conference of the St. Louis African American Genealogy Conference—on February 23rd in St. Louis.  Genealogist Konnetta Alexander will be sharing a few facts from about the life of her ancestor Matilda. I got to hear and see Matilda when she portrayed her at the Nashville TN AAHGS conference this past October. So, if you are in Missouri or Illinois, you may want to attend their conference week after next at the Wm. Clay Development Center at Harris Stowe State university in St. Louis.

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Special Genealogy Broadcast

Also tune in tomorrow for a special broadcast of the Bernice Bennett Show, when Robin Smith will be featured tomorrow at 7 pm EST. Ms. Smith, who is a very competent and well respected researcher will discuss something that many need to hear—those “Artificial Brick Walls.” Do you have some? These are self-imposed barriers to learning more about your family, because you have chosen not to follow through. More about her concept of self-imposed brick walls can be found on her blog, Reclaiming Kin.

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Genealogists in the Press


Jet Magazine

From JET Magazine, the latest issue features four African American Genealogists! This is wonderful especially since many programs  in recent years have not featured African American genealogist—or if they do it is always ONE and ONLY ONE featured.  I was excited to see the issue because I know three of the four genealogists featured. Congratulations to Melvin Collier, Taneya Koonce, Tim Pinnick and Adrienne Abiodun!

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Reconstruction Conference

And from New Orleans Louisisa, a unique event focusing on Reconstruction during those early years of Freedom. I am referring to an event in Louisiana, in New Orleans at Southern University, the Louisiana Reconstruction Conference – February 7-8, 2014, New Orleans. The event if going on this Weekend,  and some of the topics to be covered are the Black Press, Benevolent Societies, Education, Researching Reconstruction Ancestors, and much more.  If you are in greater New Orleans Louisiana area, this might be of interest.

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ROOTS TECH is Underway!

In case you haven’t noticed, ROOTS TECH is underway! This is the largest gathering of genealogists in the world and it is unfolding in Salt Lake City this weekend.  And if you don’t happen to be in Salt Lake City—pay close attention—you can watch several of the sessions live online via Video Stream. And if you miss them, they are archives on the Roots Tech website. In fact if you missed some critical ones from last year, check this out as well. I did listen to one on DNA and also on using the Cloud for genealogy. There might be some sessions that will benefit you as you research or seek to store your data so check them out.

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A final thought—-as Black History unfolds have you thought of taking things and making them personal? An excellent post was shared by genealogist Aaron Dorsey who posted a poignant thought on Facebook today. I have his permission to share it with you here.

It would be nice for Black History Month that individuals, organizations, media outlets, schools, churches, etc. would stick to some type of theme as opposed to posting random Black History Facts. What is the context of these random disjointed facts? How do they relate to the experience of African Americans today? This trivialize Black History Month and results in so many including of our youth in saying so what when these random facts are presented year after year.

This is truly something to think about—random facts do not teach history. They are simply random facts. Perhaps we now have a charge to alter the way history is presented, even by our own well-intentioned people. We will find much of that missing story on the land from which we come. Perhaps this should be a charge to ourselves to think about and to develop a usable model from which we can all emerge as better researchers, scholars, and storytellers.

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Thanks for tuning in another week, and please continue to share your events and projects. In the meantime, keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find.

One Response to “African Roots Podcast Episode #253 February 7th 2014”

  1. Shelley says:

    I understand Aaron’s point, but worried we would lose out on not being broad enough on topics. Not sure there are enough folks to focus only on specific themes. Maybe groups can focus on specific topics. Other than that, I love the variety that has been floating on Facebook. A little bit of everything.

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