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

This Week's Pod Cast


Welcome back to the African Roots Podcast!

Thanks for tuning in to this week’s episode. I am preparing for next week’s experience in Ft. Wayne Indian, but today on this Friday, right now—“I am feeling some kind of way…..”

Weeping Child

There are many genealogy events to share—but today, because I am feeling–well some kind of way—this is a shorter podcast. My heart is heavy–and though I stand with friends, I feel quite alone. Not that I am alone–but alone with my thoughts that weigh down my heart.  This week 7 lives were lost—all for no reason. All of them were senseless deaths—and two–done “officially” while 5 others done in revenge. Some will say that the first two lives taken were taken because they brought it on themselves, yet, as a nation, we all know why they died. From Louisiana, to Minnesota, to Texas, we are heart broken in so many places. All 7 people should be living right now. Selling CD’s, driving their cars, or protecting the community, all of them should still be with us.

We live in a strange time, but we live in a trying time. Yet, as one who grew up in the 50s and 60s and became an adult in the 1970s I recall vividly the stories of Emmet Till, and the heartbreak of the murdered Civil Rights workers. I recall the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther, King.
still be here.

This time last year, we wept with Charleston—but then—-I also remember that when I was a child, 4 little girls were killed in their Church in Birmingham. Do some things never change?

Was Charleston a simple reminder of who and where we are?

Churches Attacked
As a genealogist I work with old records all the time, and we have all celebrated that the Freedmen’s Bureau records were indexed. But have we read those records?  One half hour’s worth of reading those outrages and letters will let you know–some things have never changed.

I remember the words of  Fannie Lou Hamer who told the nation in 1967  how she was beaten while in police custody. Her crime was simply helping people vote. She was beaten by those sworn to protect her. They were never prosecuted.

Fannie Lou Hamer
But back further in time, I research Oklahoma, and I know what happened to Laura Nelson, in Okemah Oklahoma. We all know the image of that poor woman and her son, both hanging from a bridge. I know what happened in Elaine Arkansas in 1919, and Catcher Arkansas in 1923. And I read the records of the Freedmen’s Bureau—and I see systematic cruelty towards people—my people—our people.

Are we not one people?  One America? Clearly to many–we are not.

So yes—today, I am feeling some kind of way….and my heart is heavy. Like the song—“Sometimes, I feel like a motherless child, a long way from home…..”

And I ask myself–is it time to find a new home?

Thank you for letting me share my thoughts and emotions as I feel “some kind of way” today.

We will all get back to what we do, of course, but my hope is that in our small way, in our small circles, we can somehow work to make this a better place. In the meantime, keep researching, keep documenting (and telling the story) and always keep sharing what you find.

Be well, and safe, my friends.

Angela Y. Walton-Raji on July 1st, 2016

This Week's Pod Cast


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

July4th Holiday

Well folks July 1st already! Yes we are in the middle of summer and we have a holiday weekend upon us as well! That’s right, the 4th of July holiday is here and I know that many of your will be busy with family and friend, and celebrating with cook-outs, fireworks, parades and much more! Well this is a great time to remember what we celebrate, and to appreciate the summer months for they bring us an entire season to celebrate freedom! We started with Juneteenth two weeks ago, and of course we celebrate the nation’s birthday, and more interestingly we also celebrate in some parts of the west—Oklahoma in particular–we used to celebrate regularly Emancipation Day in Indian Territory! So let’s take in what that means and appreciate our freedoms that we enjoy! Though we still have many miles to travel, we do have much to celebrate, and acknowledge in hour history and our family’s ability to survive so much!


By the way, this is a quick shout-out to our genealogy friends who are enjoying the Essence festival in New Orleans this week! I know that many are enjoying the many activities, and one of our genealogy buddies is there presenting a family history story to Roland Martin. I am sure that the presentation is exciting and will reveal previously unknown family facts to the family.



The two-week count down has begun for MAAGI! The Midwest African American Genealogy Institute is about to unfold and we could not be more excited. We have participants from all over the country joining us–and what a great group that we have about to unfold! Plus–this first year we have a DNA track and it is filled to the brim and they are going to be an intense group with lots of action unfolding! Shannon Christmas, Bernice Bennett and Nicka Smith are ready and going to really unfold an amazing teaching experience, and their track will be epic! And–their track is not completely filled with no more room. There is still room in the other tracks for 1 or 2 more, though the official deadline just passed to register. We will be blogging, filming and tweeting throughout the event and are thrilled that this will be the largest group ever!

Next month is August and we look forward to the webinar to be given by Bernice Bennett on the Homestead Act and Following the Witnesses. This will be hosted by FamilyTreeWebinars. The point to be emphasized is the value of studying the neighbors and associates of our ancestors. Those who served as witnesses whether on a marriage record, or pension file or homestead record–they are part of the ancestral circle and should be studied! Her presentation will air on August 12th of next month!


Of course we are all excited about the IBGS Conference–that is the International Black Genealogy Summit coming to the greater Washington DC area. That promises to being an amazing cadre of speakers to the area, and we are all quite excited about the event! This will unfold September 1-3 at the Crystal City Marriot, in northern Virginia, and it should be quite exciting!

And we also look towards the fall when the national AAHGS conference will unfold in Atlanta Georgia! This is always a great event to attend, and we look forward to that experience as well.


Have you thought about expanding your genealogical experience?

As we speak about attending workshops and institutes–perhaps we should all step out of our regular comfort zone and explore less traveled roads. Many of us know that we have European as well as African ancestors. In many cases we know who that European ancestor was. But have we researched his/her history? Have we found what county in Ireland they came from the followed that line? Have we thought about it?

We are all comfortable with going online to find new records. But have we begun to connect with researchers in real time online? There are many opportunities to engage with researchers live in real time. Google Plus, Facebook Live, Vokle, even YouTube all provide opportunities to interact with each other. Many have planned meet ups off line and meet in person, but the online platforms provide the next best thing to an in person meeting. We see the message boards and groups on Facebook. We post queries and wait for answers—but now we can truly chat and interact. Perhaps more of us can become participants on those platforms.

And finally—it is time to move from just conferences, and include institutes that provide hands-on real time learning. Unlike events that are just lectures–these provide indept opportunities to learn in an intense way. It is perhaps time to consider stepping up our game, but stepping less familiar paths. They may lead to amazing places!

Well, time to wrap things up for this week and begin the holiday enjoyment with family and friends. Make some memories, take photos and simply enjoy. Be careful with fireworks especially around children, but do have a great weekend.

Also thank you for taking time to tune in once again. You are appreciated and I am always honored to hear from so many of you. In the meantime, please remember to keep researching, keep documenting, and keep sharing what you find!