Angela Y. Walton-Raji on June 19th, 2015

This Week's Pod Cast



150 Years of Freedom!


Welcome to the African Roots Podcast. And welcome to Juneteenth!

We celebrate 150 years of freedom this year and we celebrate and honor our ancestors who endured so much so that we may be here, today! I wish friends and family in Galveston where this particular celebration all started, I hope they have a great emancipation celebration!


Pray For Charleston

Before we begin our celebration of freedom, let us pause and remember the tragedy of the week from Charleston. Let us pray, for today we mourn. Nine people lost their lives without cause this week, and as we celebrate 150 years, we must pause as acts of terror are being directed to people of color. As we celebrated freedom in 1865 acts of terror were directed to the newly freed. And today as we note 150 years of freedom, another heinous act of terror has been directed to the descendants of those once enslaved.

So before we talk about celebration, we must be reflective of Charleston, all of South Carolina, and the nation. For peace, we pray.


Freedmen’s Bureau Initiative Launches Today!

DiscoverFreedomLogoIndexing Project

Today an announcement will be made coming from California African American Museum. In a partnership with Family Search, the Smithsonian NMAACH, the National Archives and the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society ( AAHGS)the Freedmen’s Bureau Indexing Project will be announced.

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, known also as the Freedmen’s Bureau and to many researchers as Natioanal Archives Record Group 105 (RG105) was a government agency created at the end of the Civil War that provided help to former slaves and poor whites in the aftermath of the Civil War. For African Americans, it was also the beginning of their new status as free people.

This partnership will launch an effort to secure volunteers to index the millions of pages that reflect those Americans in need in the critical years after the Civil War.  Today, at 1:00pm Eastern time, a live video stream will be shared with the genealogy community today. To watch the announcement click HERE.

There are millions of pages reflecting family history, and the challenge before us now is to get them indexed.

Let’s bring forth their names, so that we can bring forth their stories!

Free Webinar on Antebellum Records


A free webinar on Antebellum records will be hosted tonight by Our Black Ancestry. The presenter is Jean Cooper who is a librarian at the Library of Virginia, and she will talk about the amazing resources to find pre-Civil War records, from deeds, to wills, and much more. The Webinar will take place at 7pm (EDT). More information can be found HERE.

Celebrating Freedom in Hampton Virginia


If it’s Juneteenth, it is time for Professor Dru’s Juneteenth Jubilee.

For the third consecutive year, genealogist and teacher, Drusilla Pair is taking her own research to the stage. Tonight at 7 pm (EDT) the third annual Juneteenth Jubilee will unfold. The curtain will rise tonight at the Ella Fitzgerald Theatre, at the Downing Cross Cultural Arts Center in downtown Newport News, Virginia.

What a wonderful way to celebrate freedom by taking the stories that she has been researching on a local level, and putting it on stage in a unique way. Ms Pair has taken a family with local roots, and has woven an amazing story and presenting it tonight. So if you live in the Tidewater area of Virginia, this is a unique way to kick off the Juneteenth weekend.


Save the Date for Cultural Festival in West Virginia


The 25th anniversary of the West Virginia African Heritage Festival will take place in September of this year in downtown Clarksburg. This is a family friendly event, so save the date- September 11-13, 2015.


AAHGS Conference Schedule is now Available

AAHGSConference2015AAHGS 2015 Conference Schedule

The schedule for the 2015 annual conference of AAHGS, is now available for download. To access the program, click the link above.

Midwest Institute to Unfold in St. Louis 
MAAGI Banner Framed

The third Midwest African American Genealogy Institute will unfold in St. Louis Missouri again this year. The program has merged tracks for two basic tracks this year, a “Basic Methods” track will be offered and a brand new “Writing Track” with a professional writing coach to get things started. MAAGI is a major project of the St. Louis African American Genealogy & History Society.



The Ultimate Family History Interview Primer

Last night’s episode of Bernice Bennett’s show featured genealogist Nicka Sewell Smith who discussed her new publication, the Ultimate Family History Interview Primer.


This beautiful 12 page booklet is a perfect oral history guide for African American genealogists. Last night, on Bernice Bennett’s blog radio program, author Nicka Sewell Smith discussed the publication of this guide and shared some of her better tips that she has learned from over 15 years of genealogical research, and interviewing elders. Copies of the primer can be obtained from MagCloud.


This Juneteenth weekend provides a good opportunity to reflect what we have. Remember to incorporate the family’s freedom story. If it is not yet known, then study the local history. How did the ancestral community treat the newly freed population? All of that is part of the family narrative, and we should remember to search for that story as much as we search for more names.

And—as we work on that narrative—don’t forget to record your own story. Keep a journal, or interview yourself, and leave a written legacy for the next generation.


Interesting Family History radio show.

Have you heard of Extreme Genes radio? This is a radio program, and I tuned into an interesting interview yesterday. I was previously unfamiliar with this program and it looks like something to tune into from time to time.


African American Knoxville Genealogy

KnoxvilleGroupA new group on social media has surfaced. Let’s welcome the Knoxville African Diaspora Research Group to the Facebook community of genealogy groups. It is great to see another African American community emerge online, and I look forward to reading about their activities.

Well, time to wind things down for another week. I hope that many of you will tune in to today’s announcement about the indexing initiative with Family Search, and that you will become actively engaged in that effort.

Let’s also remember to keep Charleston in our prayers.

And of course remember to keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find!

Angela Y. Walton-Raji on June 12th, 2015

This Week's Pod Cast



Well hello everyone, I am coming to you today from Birmingham, Alabama on the lovely Samford University  campus to attend the Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research. And last week I was in Burbank California where I attended and presented at the SCGS Genealogy Jamboree California. I had the honor to speak at both events. Here in Alabama I have taught in the Five Civilized Tribes track and it has been an wonderful experience.



I am looking forward for attending some workshops at the Juneteenth event in Prince George’s County MD. As you know Juneteenth, many places throughout the country are celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Freedom. Were your ancestors freedom fighters, were they self-emancipators and make it to a contraband camp? And you may or may not know if they were. But this is a good time then, to use the new Freedmen’s Bureau mapping site. Mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau contains a good number of maps that go beyond the bureau field offices. They also include the Contraband camps. Take a look and see if your ancestors lived in one? That might reveal how freedom came to your family. This site was developed by Toni Carrier of LowCountry Africana, and myself. She is the real technical guru who was able to provide the technical structure to the map.  But I hope that you will do something next week to honor the ancestors.



Speaking of the Freedmen’s Bureau, I want to direct your attention to a site, “Discover Freedom”. Well next week in celebration of Juneteenth, there is a special initiative that will be announced, to index the Freedmen’s Bureau. The bureau officially known as the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. Next week coming from Los Angeles, will be a live video cast that will be live streamed from an event launching of the indexing project. The Freedmen’s Bureau Indexing project will begin with a call to action to get the records from the Field Offices of the Bureau, indexed. This is a wonderful record set and the more people involved, will make this record set available earlier, for researchers.


Bernice's Logo

Last nights episode on Bernice Bennett’s show, featured Dr. Allyson Hobbs who had written an interesting study of the occurrence of racial passing.  This was a good discussion about the effects that passing has on the family and the person who also passed.



Some webinars coming up. Melvin Collier will be speaking online in a Family Tree Webinar in July. He is a very focused speaker, and truly professional. Speaking of professionals, if you have thought about entering the genealogy arena as a professional, then institutes and classes will sharpen those skills. Also note that OBA is sponsoring a special Juneteenth webinar as well, next week. Webinars provide great opportunities to learn and sharpen skills and so do institutes. In fact note that there is still time to register for MAAGI and this is a great time to learn some new skills.


Have you been paying attention to all of the activity on social media? There are dozens of African American genealogy groups online! AfriGeneas has two places on FB–one is a community group and the other is a fan page. But the community group has over 8000 members and that is incredible. And then there is OBA, Our Black Ancestors a huge group created by Sharon Morgan. There is an African American DNA group with more than 10,000 members. So take a look at what those who are professionals are doing. They are writing, teaching and posting on social media and so much more.


The is a great newspaper site from Louisiana online. This is a site with African American newspapers. Well there are about 25 new titles added to that site and I think you will find it fascinating.

Well, I am winding things down as I am traveling later this afternoon, and am anxious to get back home and unwind from an amazing series of events.  Thank you for tuning in and listening again this week, and thanks for sharing your posts and bringing them to my attention.

In the meantime, keep researching, keep documenting, and keep sharing what you find.