African Roots Podcast Episode #299 December 26, 2014

This Week's Pod Cast


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


Well hello everyone! Compliments of the season! I hope you are well and are now in the midst of post-Christmas euphoria! I do hope that you had a good day with family and loved ones. A special hello and warm wishes to everyone from west coast to the east coast, to family and friends Florida to Freetown Sierra Leone. Special wishes to family and friends in Nigeria, and to a dear soul I know in Sierra Leone where they have had many health challenges as a pandemic has affected them so dramatically. Treasure that time with others, and also treasure that quiet time where one can be reflective and appreciate life.

I hope that many of you made some special memories took pictures, and enjoyed the opportunity to fellowship with one another as well.


Now–we are winding down with 2014 and we are moving quickly to a brand new year! What kind of projects lie ahead for you? Some of you are participating in a genealogy do-over, and for me, this is a great time to review all that we have. And now with digitization we can all try to trim down the excess. This is a wonderful time to review what we have. I also want to encourage people to take some projects in a new direction. This is a time to teach others how to conduct sound research. And for me, more importantly, to teach others that they have a story to tell, and encourage them to tell that story!


MAAGI 2015 SaveThe Date

This coming week, more details about MAAGI will be shared and info about the speakers and tracks. Go ahead and save the dates, July 7 – 9th. That is the week after the 4th of July holiday. There will be a new track in writing, and some assistance in getting the story told. I think that many genealogists have it finding a way to make the data that we find interesting enough for others to hear. Many of us have family that will not be excited that we have found something. I have found however, that many are excited, and to get their hands of “the family book” that someone has put together on the family history. But when they see the book what they find is basically a “directory” of photos and names, but not pieces that inspire or that touch the heart of the readers. So hopefully some will join us in the new writing track!


Emancipation Image Harpers Image by Thomas Nast,  Courtesy Library of Congress, Harper’s Weekly, 1863

Well, we are on the eve of the sesquicentennial of the  year of Freedom! 2015 will be the 150th anniversary of freedom that came to those once enslaved. We must understand that the nation changed! The Civil War ended, 4 million people were freed from bondage, and 4 million people became citizens. The entire country was affected. The most powerful nation in the world h had an economy based on a product–cotton–from the south and based on an unpaid labor force. We have never looked at the impact of what that meant. It would take years before change would take effect. But–for many of our families—they could marry who they wished, and they could now go and find lost relatives who had been sold away. They could walk on the roads. Imagine the shock of the local population that forbade the movement  of black people freely on the roads. And yes, they took to the roads!!!  What an incredible time! Record Group 105 contain millions of pages that reflect this freedom!

And this is an American record set–people of every color are contained in Freedmen’s Bureau  records. One will find people who were Black, white and also Native Americans from Indian Territory!

So yes, this is the time to honor that beginning!



It is imperative that I mention the Indexing Project. Please join that effort to index these records. The sooner we get this inexed we will assist genealogists, historians, preservationists and more. The NMAACH (National Museum of African American History and Culture) has partnered with Family Search to get these records indexed! Please assist to get the indexing completed.



How do you all plan to celebrate Freedom? I hope that the significance of this milestone year will be understood and honored throughout the genealogy community and that you will join me, in this endeavor to honor those who survived and those upon whose shoulder we stand.


As we wind down this podcast and wind down this year, please know that I have appreciated you all this past year, and I wish you the best for this coming new year!

Make a promise and commitment to keep sharing, keep documenting, and to keep sharing what you find!  Happy New Year everyone!

African Roots Podcast Episode # 298 December 19, 2014

This Week's Pod Cast


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


Wow—the countdown to Christmas is here! In a week’s time the big day will be here, and I only wish you all a safe and heart-warming Merry Christmas!

The year is winding down, Christmas is almost here and there is still a lot to do. Time to slow down a bit, and plan for the next year and put down on my many lists all of the things that I want to do as well for the upcoming months.  There are conferences, and institutes coming up and a chance to also go back to Virginia when AAHGS takes everybody back to Richmond!



I see that some are planning a Genealogy Do-Over. I am planning a Go-Over—where I shall be looking at some of the many pages of paper documents that I have. Is it time to simply digitize, or are they perahaps so abundant that I may not need to keep those copies that I have. So decisions need to be made there. Plus I have been busy journaling and even recently bought a “Smash Book” style journal, and have had a lot of fun with that. Why do I journal? Well I believe in blazing our own trail and leaving our own clues to those thoughts and reflections. We all need to record where we are in this time and space, and journaling, for me is a great way to do that.



So as we make our way through this holiday season, with family this is the time to put things in writing, and recording how we spend that time, Even the mundane daily activities can tell us a lot.


Photo credit: © Christopher Futcher/iStockphoto

The genealogy community has been busy and discussing many things, in social media, much discussion on where we are today, about inclusion and exclusion. And there has been much discussion about race, which can be sensitive in this nation. Having a man of color in the White House has brought out strange behavior from many who have had to have a shift in their mindset. We are recording what is taking place in our lives, and we have opinions about the things that happen. We need to discuss them. Some are compassionate, engaging, sincere, and some are down right mean. But most genealogical community discussion has been respectful.


Changing the subject—this is the time to explore those technological options to preserve history. How do we preserve data? Time to ask whether we need to hold on to things that are already in abundance and digitized. The question is when do we separate those things that have sentimental value, from those things that might not merit being kept or retained in my space. I am referring to paper, and clutter. Do I have it for a reason, or have it just to have it? Maybe it is time to review and to “go over” things.



Have you thought about expanding your knowledge base? Well two Ivy League institutions are offering college level credit and these classes are free. Those with an interest and a specialty in African American genealogy–perhaps it is time to study African American history, formally. Who knows? It may take you into a new direction.



I hope  you listened to Bernice Bennett’s show. Last night’s show featured Dr. Edward Baptist author of The Half Has Never Been Told. What a powerful book about how the nation’s economy was built on such an intensely cruel system. The discussion is a serious one, as is the book itself. But it is still important for us to tell the story. I find that it is enriching while learning about slavery, to find the stories of resistance, and resilience. The human spirit was not killed by the system of slavery, and it that resilience that must be celebrated. American culture came from that resilience, and American music came from that resilience. We need to celebrate the ability to emerge with human spirit intact! Four million people became free, four million people became citizens, and millions got the right to vote. The beginning of the dismantling of slavery and its hold–we have so much to talk about, research, learn, and stories to tell. When we look at those topics, we become better and our own nation and society becomes so much better!!


Well—this time, next week–Christmas Day will have come and gone—but try and find some of those old Christmas pictures and bring them out. Bring forth some of the traditions that our ancestors practices. Throw some nuts and fruit in the Christmas stocking as well–this was a big deal for our grandparents. And bring a bit of the old spirit into the family.

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, Happy Chanukah, and thank you all for being there! In the meantime, keep researching keep documenting and keep sharing what you find!


Sharing my favorite Christmas story with you!
John Henry Faulk’s Christmas Story