Angela Y. Walton-Raji on March 4th, 2016

This Week's Pod Cast

 

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

I am coming to you this week from beautiful Central Virginia, in Fluvanna County. I am here for a special event at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center tomorrow in Charlottesville. I am completely amazed at the rich history of Virginia and even while traveling here yesterday, passing through historic sites and how amazing! I have been taking note of the sites that I can only call hallowed ground. Looking out over the fields I could almost see the labor of the slaves in those fields, and when I would see the plantation sites, I strained to see the slave cabins. Every one of those sites one knows was supported by slave labor. As a researcher it is now impossible to drive through the country and not see.

JeffersonSchool

However, my experience reflected the need for  us to find the sites where events that altered the lives of many occurred. Not only battlefields or places where important papers were signed, but the places where African American lives were dramatically altered.

My day consisted of truly an amazing adventure—I began with a visit to the shrine for St. Katherine Drexel, in Columbia Virginia. From there we drove through amazing country of old plantations, incredible vegetation, and even critical landmarks.

Twin Oak Trees

Amazing Twin Oak Trees

I visited a Freedmen’s Bureau site today, and it dawned on me that this was the first time that I had visited a place where a Field Office of the Bureau was located. The site was the old Gordonsville Virginia Freedmen’s Bureau office.

Gordonsville MuseumFrBureau

While touring the site I learned more of the building’s  history, including the fact that the building was at one time a Civil War hospital, and after the war, it was also the site of a Freedmen school.


Within a few years the building became a hotel, and it was the site in front of the hotel that another change was made. It was a site where African American women became financially solvent, where they added to their family income as cooks.

ChickenLadies of Gordonsville

Photo: City of Gordonsville
Accessed from This Site

Their fried chicken was well known, and the “chicken ladies” resulted in giving Gordonsville the Friend Chicken capital of the country.

The critical part of the day however, the experience that I had with Dr. Shelley Murphy visiting the Civil War Museum in Gordonsville Virginia. But? not only for the amazing history, but for the fact that we need to not only study the history of these sites, but also to work to preserve them. Many are working hard to index Freedmen’s Bureau records, but how many of us have visited these sites or even know where they were located? We need to find out not only what cities the field offices were, but to learn where the Union Army occupied the area, which will point to the exact location of the Bureau. A task that we should consider undertaking, is to mark the site and work with the state or regional historical society to have the landmark officially designated. These sites are our hallowed ground, and it is our task to identify them, and if they still stand, then work to preserve them. What a mighty charge we have.

Gordonsville Museum
Old Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office, Hospital, and Freedmen School, of Gordonsville, Virginia

Thank you all for tuning in this week and remember to keep researching, keep documenting and to keep sharing what you find.

Angela Y. Walton-Raji on February 26th, 2016

This Week's Pod Cast

 

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

I want to thank everyone in MD and DC who helped to make last week’s conference in Laurel MD a success. I felt that I was received warmly and I felt that the speakers whom I heard were truly wonderful. They had such information to share and were in such control of the rich data that they shared. It was a honor to give the keynote address and a joy to sit in on several outstanding sessions throughout the day. Again, thank you to everyone!
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The Social Life of DNA


Well, DNA is the most ongoing topic these days and this week there were two interesting discussions about DNA. Last night, on Bernice Bennett’s showher guest was Dr. Alondra Nelson author of ">The Social Life of DNA.

BerniceShow2

What unfolded was an interesting discussion on this book and how DNA is now a critical part of the social fabric of many families today. An interesting discussion on identity, reparations and the different tests as well unfolded. If you missed the broadcast last night, please tune in to catch the broadcast as a podcast today! Good discussion.

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Black Pro Gen Hangout – Feb 24th
Earlier this week the second Black Pro Gen google hangout unfolded! This was reviewing the episode of Finding Your Roots from last week, where DNA unfolded an amazing story where one of the guests learned that his grandparents had no biological connection to him. We discussed in that hangout, the emotional side of  DNA, and the emotional impact that such tests can bring. The hangout is hosted by Nicka Sewell-Smith, and the discussion was frank and honest, and many concerns were expressed by all regarding the responsibility of family researchers, and how to proceed as DNA testing evolves.

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New Genealogy TV series emerges!

RelativeRace

Relative Race!

Now this is quite different! A new genealogy TV series is coming as a competition–a race. This is literally a race from San Francisco California to New York and consists of four teams comprised of couples seeking family, and new relatives. One of the couples is an interracial couple that has an interesting with a 20 year age difference, and unique family story to tell. Cameras will follow the four teams as they travel across the country. They will have only paper maps, a rental car, and a $25 per diem and a not-very-smart phone–an old fashioned flip phone. They will be using info from AncestryDNA to meet their new relatives to meet complete strangers–and this is interesting–to stay with them. There are challenges that they have to tackle along the way, or get strikes against them if they are not successful. After three strikes they are eliminated and the other couples continue their journey..

This show will air Sunday February 28, on BYU-TV. Now—I know many do not have access to BYU-TV, but you can download the stream app to watch it unfold online. I did watch the trailer and have had a glimpse of the program. It combines genealogy with the competition, and it is quite interesting!  For more information visit Relative Race.

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Well I am between presentations for a while, but while I have a time to slow down a bit, I am catching up on reading. I am undertaking a book that I try to re-read once a year. This is a book that inspires me, and that encourages me to look for not only the family history, but the community history. I am referring to Somerset Homecoming, by Dorothy Spruill Redford. This work hightlights her journey, in part memoir form reflecting her youth, the days where she made the big discovery and found the plantation from which her ancestors came. It made me excited to read many years ago, and I still feel the excitement right now as I find it inspiring. She employed multiple record sets to find her ancestral story, and it continues to inspire me, to this day.

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Believe it or not, March quickly approaches, and this time next week, I shall come to you from Charlottesville, Virginia where I will be there to speak at the Jefferson School Heritage Center, in Charlottesville Virginia. I am looking forward to going there and meeting my good friend Dr. Shelley Murphy, (aka familytreegirl) and shall be talking about the new website, “Mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau.” This promises to be quite exciting and I am truly looking forward to being there.

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BritishRunaway

New Database Reveals Lives of Escaped Slaves
Well, a new database will soon be released about slaves seeking freedom in the British empire. It is called, Runaway Slaves in Britian: bondage, freedom and race in the eighteenth century. This promises to be a useful site and it speaks about a seldom mentioned topic–slaves held by British citizens, and their role in the Atlantic slave trade.

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Well, time to wind down for this week. Once again thank you for tuning in, and know that you are appreciated for taking time from your own schedule to tune in. Have a great week, and remember to keep researching, keep documenting, and keep sharing what you find!