Category Archives: African Roots

African Roots Podcast Episode # 298 December 19, 2014

This Week's Pod Cast


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


Wow—the countdown to Christmas is here! In a week’s time the big day will be here, and I only wish you all a safe and heart-warming Merry Christmas!

The year is winding down, Christmas is almost here and there is still a lot to do. Time to slow down a bit, and plan for the next year and put down on my many lists all of the things that I want to do as well for the upcoming months.  There are conferences, and institutes coming up and a chance to also go back to Virginia when AAHGS takes everybody back to Richmond!



I see that some are planning a Genealogy Do-Over. I am planning a Go-Over—where I shall be looking at some of the many pages of paper documents that I have. Is it time to simply digitize, or are they perahaps so abundant that I may not need to keep those copies that I have. So decisions need to be made there. Plus I have been busy journaling and even recently bought a “Smash Book” style journal, and have had a lot of fun with that. Why do I journal? Well I believe in blazing our own trail and leaving our own clues to those thoughts and reflections. We all need to record where we are in this time and space, and journaling, for me is a great way to do that.



So as we make our way through this holiday season, with family this is the time to put things in writing, and recording how we spend that time, Even the mundane daily activities can tell us a lot.


Photo credit: © Christopher Futcher/iStockphoto

The genealogy community has been busy and discussing many things, in social media, much discussion on where we are today, about inclusion and exclusion. And there has been much discussion about race, which can be sensitive in this nation. Having a man of color in the White House has brought out strange behavior from many who have had to have a shift in their mindset. We are recording what is taking place in our lives, and we have opinions about the things that happen. We need to discuss them. Some are compassionate, engaging, sincere, and some are down right mean. But most genealogical community discussion has been respectful.


Changing the subject—this is the time to explore those technological options to preserve history. How do we preserve data? Time to ask whether we need to hold on to things that are already in abundance and digitized. The question is when do we separate those things that have sentimental value, from those things that might not merit being kept or retained in my space. I am referring to paper, and clutter. Do I have it for a reason, or have it just to have it? Maybe it is time to review and to “go over” things.



Have you thought about expanding your knowledge base? Well two Ivy League institutions are offering college level credit and these classes are free. Those with an interest and a specialty in African American genealogy–perhaps it is time to study African American history, formally. Who knows? It may take you into a new direction.



I hope  you listened to Bernice Bennett’s show. Last night’s show featured Dr. Edward Baptist author of The Half Has Never Been Told. What a powerful book about how the nation’s economy was built on such an intensely cruel system. The discussion is a serious one, as is the book itself. But it is still important for us to tell the story. I find that it is enriching while learning about slavery, to find the stories of resistance, and resilience. The human spirit was not killed by the system of slavery, and it that resilience that must be celebrated. American culture came from that resilience, and American music came from that resilience. We need to celebrate the ability to emerge with human spirit intact! Four million people became free, four million people became citizens, and millions got the right to vote. The beginning of the dismantling of slavery and its hold–we have so much to talk about, research, learn, and stories to tell. When we look at those topics, we become better and our own nation and society becomes so much better!!


Well—this time, next week–Christmas Day will have come and gone—but try and find some of those old Christmas pictures and bring them out. Bring forth some of the traditions that our ancestors practices. Throw some nuts and fruit in the Christmas stocking as well–this was a big deal for our grandparents. And bring a bit of the old spirit into the family.

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, Happy Chanukah, and thank you all for being there! In the meantime, keep researching keep documenting and keep sharing what you find!


Sharing my favorite Christmas story with you!
John Henry Faulk’s Christmas Story

African Roots Podcast Episode #297 December 12, 2014

This Week's Pod Cast


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


Ok December is rolling right along and we are almost half way through the month! I know many of you are quite busy and it is really amazing for me to realize that the year is almost over! I know some of you are shopping, or traveling or receiving guests. I have also been busy, and have had fun on social media and able to assist people with their family histories. The genealogy events are now over with exception of online events. So this is great time to plan and set some goals for the coming up sesquicentennial year, 2015, marking 150 years of freedom!


Time to Back Up Your Data!


This is good time to review what we have and to store our data, scan it, preserve it in a different way. In other words time to back things up. Is it time to get some new toys—recorders, scanners, or software to make sure you are keeping up with things that can be done. Also time to renew those memberships and subscriptions, as there are also Christmas and New Year specials in the many genealogy sites that we use. And speaking of software—that reminds me of Roots Tech. Consider coming to Salt Lake City in Salt Lake City. Go to and see what will transpire. This will be the largest genealogical gathering in history and this promises to be exciting.  And for those in the Mid-Atlantic area, the five AAHGS chapters will be hosting an all day genealogy event. This is sponsored by five chapters of AAHGS.



This is a good time to write. I think this is a good time to commit to a writing or documenting. This might be a good time to commit yourself to a writing or documenting project. It does not have to be a blog, but I encourage  you to write and tell you own stories. Don’t you wish you ancestors left diaries and letters? Well I encourage  you to keep journals. For me, I have started bringing back to life my journaling. I pulled out an old planner and discovered a wonderful world of writers and journal keepers. What a great way to leave clues and information for the next generation. Find those artifacts with your ancestors words. I recall how I felt when I found my own ancestors works from Oklahoma. To see their sworn testimony and to find out more about where and how they lived—what a revelation. The same thing I went through the joy when I found my ancestor’s civil war pension file! The family data was so rich!

 Well, all of those paper files are so valuable. It is time to convert the paper files to electronic images as well. I am amazed at how documents slip away from us. Acts of nature occur that destroy homes and family artifacts along with them. But make copies of all of the paper—the photos, the papers, the old certificates. We preserve what we have, but we also must learn to prevent. By that I mean prevent loss. Should a natural disaster occur, hopefully you can recreate what was lost as a result of a disaster. So we prevent by preserving, but we preserve in many ways. But we also preserve by prevention of total loss. By scanning, saving, putting data on external devices and it rests away from the home. So use the holidays to preserve as well as make new memories.



Last night’s episode of Bernice Bennett’s show was interesting and you should go and listen. Maurice Barboza is working to honor to Patriots of color—those who were patriots from the American Revolution. Crispus was not the only man of color who was a patriot. There are over 5000 men of color who were American Society for the Daughters of the  American Revolution. His aunt, opened the door when she sued for the right of African Americans to join the NSDAR. The participation of the men of color in the Revolution is well documented, yet not well known. Think of it—5000 men must have hundreds of thousands of descendants. So tune in and listen to the broadcast if you missed it. The show airs every Thursday evening at 9pm on Blog Talk Radio. So tune in and listen to last night’s show. This will be only the second monument honoring American Revolutionary patriots. You can hear her show every Thursday evening at 9pm on Blog Talk Radio.



Well looking to next year 2015…that is a milestone year. Beyond the resolutions—what are you doing to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Freedom!!! Slavery was abolished in 1865, the U.S. Constitution were passed in 1865! It was over!!! After more than 300 years!! So what are you doing as a genealogist, historian, story teller to celebrate and honor those who survived?

 Here are 10 things that you can do to celebrate freedom and honor this landmark year!

1) Find the Family Freedom Story

2) Expand your knowledge of the family ancestral community.

3) Tell the family’s Civil War story.

4) Adopt one Civil War soldier. Find and tell his story! You might have one in the family, if not find one in the community and tell  his story.

5) Tell the history of a regiment that settled or served in your ancestral community or was organized in that vicinity.

6) Find one soldier and if you can determine if he got a pension, commit yourself to giving that soldier back to his community. Tell it and give it to the historical personnel and record keepers.

7) Identify the places of significance of the Civil War era in your ancestral home. Examples: a) Identify those places, and visit them and work to see that they are marked by the state. b) Find critical places that served former slave such as Freedmen’s Bureau offices or Freedman’s Saving’s Banks. c) Find the location of the contraband camps or historical post war Black settlements in your area.

8) Write an article for your state historical society or state genealogical society, or national society publication. Let them know what you have learned about that critical pre and post Civil War era.

9) Identify some critical landmarks. Large battle sites have already have been identified. But has the African American participation and story been told in that place? Work to have it marked by the state. Work to have it declared as a significant historical place.

10) Create a blog or a social media group to celebrate the Freedom of the ancestral community.

These are a few suggestions that you can do over the next year to honor your ancestors who walked in to freedom 150 years ago. I hope these ideas help and that you will share it. Don’t hoard your data and keep it secret. Once you share it, we will all be thrilled that you did!

Well time has quickly passed and I thank you for listening. Know that you are all appreciated! I love hearing from you! Have a wonderful week and remember to keep researching, keep documenting and always keep sharing what you find!