Angela Y. Walton-Raji on March 25th, 2016

This Week's Pod Cast


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

Easter Greetings

Well  Happy Easter to everyone! I know that many of you are busy making preparations for the holiday weekend and for the big Easter dinner as well. Holidays like Easter are great times to make memories! I have warm memories of dyeing Easter eggs the night before, and of putting on the new Easter dress for Sunday Mass, with the scratchy krenlin slip underneath! It’s always great to have fond memories like that!And this is truly spring! The Cherry Blossoms are in full bloom in the DMV, but beyond that–the genealogy world is thriving. Well things are going on here in Maryland. Judy Russell aka The Legal Genealogist is coming to Baltimore to speak all day at Enoch Pratt Free library at the branch in Canton, the southeast anchor branch of the library. One always learns a lot when one hears her present.

Reginald Lewis Museum

Reginal Lewis Museum

Next week, Dr. Heather Williams will look at the entire phenomenom of African American Genealogy and she will present at the Reginald Lewis Museum next Friday, April 2. Also Dr. Green from Morgan State University will be presenting a lecture about a community of Free People of color in Talbot County Maryland. I shall present at the Library in Hyattsville Maryland on April 2nd as well, so things are truly picking up here, as they are all over the country. The conference season is beginning, as NGS is in May, the Jamboree is in June, and MAAGI in July. Summer will end with IBGS and of course the AAHGS conference is in the fall.

MAAGI 2016 New Logo
MAAGI – The Teaching Institute

Have you thought about sharpening your skills? If so, then a genealogy institute is something that you may want to explore. There is the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute, that will unfold this year in Allen County Library in Ft. Wayne Indiana. The dates are July 12-14th this year. But MAAGI promises  to be interesting, as there are 4 tracks that you may want to explore. And imagine taking 12 classes over 3 days with focus on one area. This is quite different from a conference where all of the sessions that you sit in on, are different and not connected. MAAGI is in the 4th year and has now expanded to the Genealogy Center at ACPL for the first time.

Of course Washington DC will host the International Black Genealogy Summit. Some may want to come to IBGS a day or two earlier to get some research completed. And AAHGS holds up the end of the calendar year, which will be in Atlanta this year. So the season is fully underway. I look forward to California and also to Odessa TX  later this year.


A word about researching—I recently spent some time at the National Archives, and it was a good exercise for me, to go back and do things the old way. That’s right–I pulled out the old microfilm, the old soundex system, and using the microfilm. Now, I use digitized records all the time–but I do think that digitization has gotten us so far away from the original publication–the microfilmed publication. The old census records were images made of the large census books. With microfilm,  you are conscious of the enumeration district, or military district, or however the local community recorded data. With computer images, we don’t always keep in mind the composition of the census records and how the data was presented. In addition, the indexing with the soundex can occasionally be a bit better. I have seen a case where a man called Cesar, was indexed Casan. I understand that penmanship can be a challenge, but I find the image from microfilm give me a bit of clarity even in enlarged. I think that we need to remember the old way of doing things—it is worthwhile to revisit the libraries and repositories.

Malaga Island
The Malaga Story

And interesting story was shared this week. This is the story of a tiny fishing village in Maine called Malaga Island. They were scorned because they were mixed race. They were not “in synch” with the larger popuplation. They were simply evicted from the island. For many years it was never spoken about, and now after almost a century–there is an effort to talk about this history. This tiny community of African Americans, and other mixed race people had a history that has literally been erased from the map of Maine.

I got a very nice letter from a reader of one of my blogs this week. A reader saw the article that I wrote about Cudjoe Lewis. He was one of the last known survivor of the slave ship Clotilde.

Cudjoe Lewis Portrait

He was a young boy when captured. He was the last known survivor. He lived into the 20th century. He always wanted to return home, but never made it back home to Africa. His culture was Yoruba, though he was from Dahomey, which is now the Republic of Benin. I wrote an article about him and included a photo and spoke about his life. He married and had children and grandchildren as well. He lost several of his children over the years. Well this week, I got a very nice article from a woman who is a direct descendant of Cudjoe Lewis. She is the 5th great grand daughter of Cudjoe Lewis. She thanked me for writing the piece and was letting me know that his legacy is remembered by his descendants. I was so touched and moved to hear from her. I was honored, and humbled. His family survived, and their resilience continues.

Well, thanks for listening and remind you to remember to tune into Bernice Bennett’s show. She was off this week, but is returning next week and will be bringing us another wonderful guest.

Have a great week, a Happy Easter, and remember to keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find!

Angela Y. Walton-Raji on March 18th, 2016

This Week's Pod Cast



Oregon State to Start Digitizing African American Oral Histories

Great news from Oregon State University. Between 1983 and 1992 a series of interviews were conducted of African American Railroad porters. They spoke of their lives in the earlier part of the 20th century. The result was a 29 reel collection of reel-to-reel taped interviews. The interviews were conducted by Michael Grice, who made the documentary Black Families and the Railroad in Oregon and the Northwest. Recently the Oregon Cultural Trust has provided a grant to the university to digitize the collection and to also create a website that will feature the recordings, and also provide transcripts.



Family History Day in Fredericksburg Virginia

Tomorrow the Fredericksburg Virginia Family History Center is hosting a Family History Day at the center on Bragg Road. The event will begin at 9:00 am, and end at 3pm. The keynote speaker is Dr. William S. Pretzer of the Smithsonian NMAACH (National Museum of African American History and Culture. Among the speakers are Dr. Cara Griggs, of The Library of Virginia, and Dr. Shelley Murphy of Fluvanna County Virginia and other amazing presenters. So if you are in the Fredericksburg Virginia area tomorrow, that is the place to be.


Articles of Interest from ASALH

Recent issues of the ASALH Journal of Negro History focus on Black education before and after segregation. One essay from the Fall 2015 journal examines the history of the elite Black boarding schools such as Mary Potter Academy and others. Another article looks the recent book by Michelle A. Purdy called “Courageous Navigation: African American Students at an Elite Private School, 1967-1972” fills this gap in the scholarship by focusing on the first black students who attended the Westminster Schools, a private boarding school in Atlanta, Georgia. This is a little known aspect of history, although most Black colleges and universities offered boarding schools in the early part of the 20th century.


NC Slave Cabin(Image from Virginia Pilot)

Will Slave Cabin be Preserved?
Story Here

A cabin believed to be over 200 years old in North Carolina is said to be the remains of a slave cabin is being discussed in Elizabeth City North Carolina.

The owner of the structure says that it has not been altered since purchased in the 1920s.  My question is whether or not the cabin has been verified as a slave cabin. If so, then it will hopefully be preserved as an artifact from that era. If not–then the true history should also be studied, as it may have also been the residence of share croppers, another period in history that deserves documentation and historical examination. Hopefully the structure will capture the attention of historians as well as archaeologists, anthropologists and more. I hope to follow this story to see how it unfolds in the next few months.


April Events

Jari Presentation

Glad to see that our friend Jari Honora in New Orleans Louisiana is stepping out to share some of his genealogical skills with the community. By the look of the classes and topics, this promises to be a wonderful event! This will be held on April 2nd at the Museé de FPC. You may register today by emailing or calling (504) 323-5074.

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In Maryland, on April 2nd, a number of events are unfolding. The Reginald Lewis Museum. will host two interesting speakers: Dr. Heather Williams, and Professor Dale Green of Morgan State University. Dr. Green will discuss the history of a community of free people in Talbot County Maryland, and Dr. Williams will discuss the research from her book, “Help Me To Find My People, the African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery”. Registration information HERE.

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Also in Prince George’s County Maryland, the AAHGS chapter will host a presentation on Online Resources for African American Genealogy. (I have the honor of being the presenter at that event. The event starts at 2:00 pm at the  Hyattsville Library, 6530 Adelphi Road, Hyattsville, MD 20782


Free People of Color In Kentucky


The African American Genealogy Group of Kentucky will present a workshop tomorrow in their regular “Third Saturday meeting”, discussing the lives of Dennis and Deademia Doram. Dennis Doram was born a slave and went on to become a wealthy land owner in Kentucky. The presentation will occur tomorrow at 1 pm, at the Kentucky History Center, in Frankfurt, Kentucky.

Hopefully the story of the North Carolina slave cabin will make us all reflect on the need to study artifacts whether they are standing structures or smaller objects, and document their history. It will important to verify that the structure is as old as is claimed and to reflect the story of the times in which it came. Such stories remind us all to verify even those oral history stories that have passed down from one generation to the next. I have worked on a project recently where documents do not reflect the story that has been told. We live in a nation where millions of records survive time, and most families can be documented to a degree. As a result it is imperative that we follow the narrative and tell the story accurately, and make the effort to document what we are told. We must never stray from this goal.


Don’t forget to tune in for last night’s episode of Bernice Bennett’s show, Research at the National Archives and Beyond, on Blog Talk Radio. Her guest was Ada Anagho Brown, who hosts the Roots to Glory Tours. This was a different twist on a DNA story. Ms. Brown is from West Africa, and she took a DNA test. She ended up with matches who are African Americans. This somehow gave her a unique perspective on her history, and on her own connection to others in the diaspora. Excellent questions came from the chat room, as well as fascinating observations. If you missed it, tune in to hear last night’s episode, HERE.


Well thank you for tuning in again this week, and know that you are truly appreciated. Have a wonderful week of research, and remember to keep researching, keep documenting and always, keep sharing what you find.