Angela Y. Walton-Raji on January 15th, 2016

This Week's Pod Cast


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

MLK PhotoHappy Birthday Dr. King!

I hope that you have had a good week of research. Today is the beginning of the holiday weekend, and this is the historical date of Martin Luther King’s birthday. Although the official holiday is Monday, today is a good day to pause, taken a moment to reflect on the legacy left by Dr. King. May we all be people of courage, leadership and dignity. We have so much to learn from his history and devotion to social change.



I have had a good week and have gotten good feedback from a blog post that I made on my Choctaw Freedman Blog. I placed a link to a new set of records recently digitized by Ancestry. This was the 1885 Choctaw Freedman Census, and I was happy to point out to readers that this database has been made available, and how to use them.  And I am more than excited that Ancestry partnered with the Oklahoma Historical Society to get these records in the hands of a larger community.

ChoctawFreedmenFamilies1885 3
Source: CTN 07 Choctaw Citizens and Freedmen Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Marriage,
Citizenship and Census Records, 1841-1927 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

Since the posting, I have heard from three people in the past day that this new record set has helped them find out more about their history. What a joy to know that something that I wrote made a difference in one’s research. I hope to expand this into a new series about additional Ancestry Oklahoma Freedmen records available.


DNA 23andMe ScreenShotImage showing my DNA composition from 23andMe

DNA conncetions have been in the news in recent days. I have been fascinated reading a number of articles about hos people are not only solving research questions, but how they are also making connections with new “relatives” previously unknown in Africa.


One article about a  young lady who used DNA connections to help her find and define who she was. The article focused on a student attending MIT, who came to feel that she did not belong there. This led to a period of depression as she struggled through self reflection and began to search for a way to define herself. Eventually family history and later DNA testing assisted her. A second article referred to an ongoing event encouraged in West African countries. Places like Ghana and Cameroun are beginning to accept and welcome lost “family” consisting of descendants of those captured and taken to the Americas as slaves. Both articles reflected a desire on the parts of many to find “that place called home” and DNA is part of the process expanding.

And speaking of DNA—remember that there is a brand new DNA Track at MAAGI this summer. 12 classes are in place to help you with triangulation, recombination, and other aspects of DNA for genealogists. Registration is now open!


Bernice's Logo

If you missed last night’s episode of Bernice Bennett’s show, you can tune in to catch it online. Her guest was Marcellus Joiner who spoke about his own research connecting his family to the slave holders William Neal in North Carolina. He himself is an archivist and works to help others with preservation. But he is also now focusing on his own history and quest to connect the dots. If you missed the show, you can download it and hear it in its entirety as a podcast or download from Itunes. Ms. Bennett’s show airs every Thursday evening at 9m on Blog Talk Radio.


Happy Founder’s Day

I want to extend a wish for a Happy Founder’s Day to the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. who ware celebrating their own history and legacy. Also note that several days ago the ladies of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc, also celebrated their founders day as well. Both were founded at Howard University and both organizations are devoted to uplift and dignity of women. Both groups are to be celebrated and honored and regardless of differences, both are on the same side, and I wish them all well and all reflect a strong legacy of dignified and devoted women.|


I want to thank you all for taking time to listen again this week. I appreciate hearing from you all, and hope that you enjoy what you hear each week. Thank you for your warm letters and emails as well. Remember to take some time out on Monday on this holiday weekend honoring Dr. King. And also, remember to keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find!

Angela Y. Walton-Raji on January 8th, 2016

This Week's Pod Cast


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

Well we are now a full week into the New Year, and a full week 2016 has already gone by. But this is now time to get back into our normal pattern and back to our many ongoing projects.

AAHGS New Officers
A special congratulations to the new board of the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society. The new officers have been announced.  The election was held in December and the new executive committee has been shared with the public. Congratulations to all, and best wishes for much success as they move forward and serve their term in office.


Calls for Papers

Two calls for papers are currently underway. The AAHGS Call for papers is now out, and the deadline is January 24th to submit. They are looking for speakers for the upcoming conference in Atlanta in October 2016. Send proposals to

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The International Black Genealogy Summit is also looking for speakers for the September 2016 conference to unfold in the greater Washington DC area. Events will be held at the Crystal Marriott Hotel in northern Virginia. Proposals should be submitted to: The deadline for submission is February 1, 2016.



Last night’s episode of Bernice Bennett’s show featured Erwin Polk who spoke about his research and the efforts to find his ancestor who served as a Buffalo Soldier. The discussion provided an overview to the history of the regiments that became known as the Buffalo Soldiers, and it focused on those who served on the western frontier. The 24th and 25th Infantries and the 9th and 10th Cavalry units were the primary Buffalo Soldier regiments. The story of the Buffalo soldiers are not researched nearly enough, and hearing more about these men may have inspired others to see if they too have ancestors who served during those post Civil Wr years on the western frontier.  Ms. Bennet’s show Research at the National Archives and Beyond, airs every Thursday evening at 9pm EST on Blog Talk Radio.


FYRSource of Image

This week was the re-entry of the PBS program, Finding Your Roots. I am always glad to see that the various televised programs encourage others to engage in the process of documenting their own family history. Seeing the number of people who are new and who come into the genealogy community. Much discussion has arisen in social media about the program, and two themes seem to have arisen this week. 1)The Same-name-as-slaveholder search, and 2) Use of Slaves Schedules.

  1. The issue of Same Surname as Slaveholder is an interesting one. I know that several  years ago, Dr. Agnes Callum conducted a small survey and noted that with the men of the 7th US Colored Infantry from the Civil War, most in fact did not take the slave holder’s surname when they enlisted. I later heard another presentation by another researcher that had noted the same thing. My own experiences from Indian Territory also reflect that many Indian tribal Freedmen also had surnames unique from their slave holders. But perhaps there needs to be a large scale review by scholars to study this phenomenon.
  2. Responsible Use of Slave Schedules. This one issue is cut and dry. The slave schedules of 1850 and 1860 generally did not reflect the names of the enslaved population. There are some exceptions when an enumerator did not follow instructions, such as the 1850 slave schedule of Cass County Texas. However, 99% of these records do not bear the names of enslaved people. Therefore it is clear that to point to an entry on a document with no name, and then to tell a client or guest “that is your ancestor”, or that is “most likely” your ancestor, is not responsible.  We as researchers, teachers, and students of history, must present the story with accuracy, clarity and honesty. Many people watch what we do, what we present and what we declare. Generalizations can be expected on television, as it is meant to entertain. However, there is the clear concern as expressed in social media this week, that we must not express that which we cannot prove and we must not present data that is not evident.Our tasks as educators, teachers, lecturers and professionals, should reflect the standards that we embrace as sound. Hopefully the team of researchers and producers hired by PBS who check for “quality control”, will also keep that concept in mind as programs go through the final editing process, not just to keep erroneous statements from airing, but also to keep erroneous statements from being made to unknowing and trusting guests. In the meantime, genealogy, which is our passion still continues on television, and we watch in eager anticipation of future episodes, because this is our passion. We applaud the efforts to bring more into the community that we hold dear, and at the same time, we must continually embrace truth, and clarity in what we do.


Well I am winding things down for this first week in January. Thank you all for listening, I realize the demands on your time, and without you I would have no podcast. In the meantime have a successful week as you return to your own projects, and remember to keep researching, keep documenting and to keep sharing what you find.