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

This Week's Pod Cast


Welcome back to the African Roots Podcast! You can always reach me at AFRICANROOTSPODCAST@GMAIL.COM

Welcome to April, and welcome to what is officially now springtime! We are having windy weather here in the mid-Atlantic, but glad that rough winter weather is now only a memory.


Join Me Today on Midday!Midday

First of all I want to invite you all to join me today at 12:00 on WYPR Midday

In advance of Saturday’s program at the Reginald Lewis Museum with Dr. Heather Williams author of the book Help Me To Find My People, WYPR Midday, will feature Dr. Williams on their show. I have been invited to join the host in the studio so that basic genealogical questions can also be discussed. To call in during the show, 410-662-8780 locally, or call toll-free at 1-866-661-9309.

You can listen to the show live from their website: Midday


PG Library System

Well, I am also busy preparing for a presentation tomorrow in Hyattsville Maryland. I shall be giving a presentation about essential online resources for African American genealogy at the public library in Hyattsville tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 pm. I hope to see friends from Prince George’s County Maryland communities there, and can’t wait to also see what can be shared among all of us!

Tomorrow is also a busy day with a major event going on in Baltimore at the Reginald Lewis Museum. Join the Agnes K. Callum chapter of AAHGS as they host two speakers–Dr. Heather Williams and Prof. Dale Green as they discuss the lives of 19th century African Americans both enslaved and free. The event will occur at 1:00 pm. Click HERE to register.


MS Cemetery StoryImage and story from: WLOX TV, Gulfport, Mississippi

There is a heartwarming story coming out of Gulfport Mississippi. The story is one of a family seeking the burial site of an ancestor. A woman remembers when her grandmother died many decades ago, but over the years the exact burial site has been forgotten. The family has been searching for the burial site for many years. The community heard about her search, and brought in a team of volunteers and search dogs, and sure enough they found not only the cemetery, but the exact headstone they were searching for–that of the grandmother! The story is a wonderful one of collaboration and dedication and how a family mystery of where ancestor was buried, is finally solved.

Historic Greenwood Cemetery Used as Training Site for K-9


A disturbing cemetery story comes from St. Louis today where apparently a local K9 training unit in St. Louis County has been using the African American Historic Greenwood Cemetery as a training ground for K9 unit. Mrs. Ella Daniels a distinguished elder in St. Louis County, has been directing the cleanup and restoration of this historic burial ground for several years, and has had much support in St. Louis County to assist with the restoration and preservation of this historic site. Among notable burials there is Harriet Scott, wife of Dred Scott of the landmark Freedom case of the 1850s.

It was shared today that while in the midst of attending the cemetery several people with vans, came in, drove over the burial area of Babyland, where infants are buried, claiming that they had permission. They took out the dogs and proceeded to “train” the animals. They then left when finished, with no apology, nor kind words. The story is explained in more detail.

This story is heartbreaking for clearly this is a cemetery, demanding respect, and members of the cemetery board were present who could verify that no permission was given to anyone to train animals on the site. This will be a story to follow and many in the genealogy community as well as the historic preservation community will be following to see if the training of animals at an African American cemetery will be allowed to continue. More information on the Greenwood Cemetery Facebook Group


New Social Media Group Focuses on Black Benevolent Societies and Fraternal Groups

FB Group
Thanks to the effort of James Morgan III of Maryland, there is a new group on Facebook that should interest many people. The group is the African American Fraternal & Benevolent Society History. The intent is to present the history of various organizations from the 1700’s to the present and to educate the public about the history of these groups. I have a presentation that I give occasionally on the impact that such groups had on the social lives of our ancestors and how we can learn about their lives through their membership in these groups. James Morgan III, lives in Maryland and serves as the Worshipful Master of Corinthian Lodge #18 in Washington, D.C. and as the Associate Grand Historian of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia. He is presenting some rich history and some amazing images of African Americans as they participated in their various organizations over the past 150 years!  He, and Jari Honora of Louisiana will be on Bernice Bennett’s show to discuss how one can add more to the family history by exploring the ancestral ties to many of these groups in the near future.

Speaking of Bernice Bennett’s show, last night Char McCargo Bah was a featured guest. She discussed various methods of finding enslaved ancestors. She pointed out that researchers need to investigate records intensely and often the answers to some of the pressing questions are right there on records already at hand. From slave schedules, to probate records, to Freedmen’s Bureau, she presented some excellent strategies on how to locate ancestors before 1870. Ms. Bennett’s show airs every Thursday evening at 9pm EST on Blog Talk Radio.

Question of the week: How well connected are you to the online research community?

Beyond the research platforms, are you connected with members of the various African American Genealogy Groups?  There are websites, blogs, and social media groups. A majority are on Facebook, but even within that platform there are smaller groups, group chats and places to post questions and get answers. And there is an active community on Twitter including a growing international African-descended genealogy community, particularly in the Americas!

There are dozens of groups, some focused on a population, others focused on a state or county. Come and join the online community and break through those brick walls.

Well, thanks for joining me again. I appreciate hearing from you, and I appreciate that you take time from your schedule to tune in.

In the mean time, remember to keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find!

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!