Angela Y. Walton-Raji on March 18th, 2016

This Week's Pod Cast



Oregon State to Start Digitizing African American Oral Histories

Great news from Oregon State University. Between 1983 and 1992 a series of interviews were conducted of African American Railroad porters. They spoke of their lives in the earlier part of the 20th century. The result was a 29 reel collection of reel-to-reel taped interviews. The interviews were conducted by Michael Grice, who made the documentary Black Families and the Railroad in Oregon and the Northwest. Recently the Oregon Cultural Trust has provided a grant to the university to digitize the collection and to also create a website that will feature the recordings, and also provide transcripts.



Family History Day in Fredericksburg Virginia

Tomorrow the Fredericksburg Virginia Family History Center is hosting a Family History Day at the center on Bragg Road. The event will begin at 9:00 am, and end at 3pm. The keynote speaker is Dr. William S. Pretzer of the Smithsonian NMAACH (National Museum of African American History and Culture. Among the speakers are Dr. Cara Griggs, of The Library of Virginia, and Dr. Shelley Murphy of Fluvanna County Virginia and other amazing presenters. So if you are in the Fredericksburg Virginia area tomorrow, that is the place to be.


Articles of Interest from ASALH

Recent issues of the ASALH Journal of Negro History focus on Black education before and after segregation. One essay from the Fall 2015 journal examines the history of the elite Black boarding schools such as Mary Potter Academy and others. Another article looks the recent book by Michelle A. Purdy called “Courageous Navigation: African American Students at an Elite Private School, 1967-1972” fills this gap in the scholarship by focusing on the first black students who attended the Westminster Schools, a private boarding school in Atlanta, Georgia. This is a little known aspect of history, although most Black colleges and universities offered boarding schools in the early part of the 20th century.


NC Slave Cabin(Image from Virginia Pilot)

Will Slave Cabin be Preserved?
Story Here

A cabin believed to be over 200 years old in North Carolina is said to be the remains of a slave cabin is being discussed in Elizabeth City North Carolina.

The owner of the structure says that it has not been altered since purchased in the 1920s.  My question is whether or not the cabin has been verified as a slave cabin. If so, then it will hopefully be preserved as an artifact from that era. If not–then the true history should also be studied, as it may have also been the residence of share croppers, another period in history that deserves documentation and historical examination. Hopefully the structure will capture the attention of historians as well as archaeologists, anthropologists and more. I hope to follow this story to see how it unfolds in the next few months.


April Events

Jari Presentation

Glad to see that our friend Jari Honora in New Orleans Louisiana is stepping out to share some of his genealogical skills with the community. By the look of the classes and topics, this promises to be a wonderful event! This will be held on April 2nd at the Museé de FPC. You may register today by emailing or calling (504) 323-5074.

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In Maryland, on April 2nd, a number of events are unfolding. The Reginald Lewis Museum. will host two interesting speakers: Dr. Heather Williams, and Professor Dale Green of Morgan State University. Dr. Green will discuss the history of a community of free people in Talbot County Maryland, and Dr. Williams will discuss the research from her book, “Help Me To Find My People, the African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery”. Registration information HERE.

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Also in Prince George’s County Maryland, the AAHGS chapter will host a presentation on Online Resources for African American Genealogy. (I have the honor of being the presenter at that event. The event starts at 2:00 pm at the  Hyattsville Library, 6530 Adelphi Road, Hyattsville, MD 20782


Free People of Color In Kentucky


The African American Genealogy Group of Kentucky will present a workshop tomorrow in their regular “Third Saturday meeting”, discussing the lives of Dennis and Deademia Doram. Dennis Doram was born a slave and went on to become a wealthy land owner in Kentucky. The presentation will occur tomorrow at 1 pm, at the Kentucky History Center, in Frankfurt, Kentucky.

Hopefully the story of the North Carolina slave cabin will make us all reflect on the need to study artifacts whether they are standing structures or smaller objects, and document their history. It will important to verify that the structure is as old as is claimed and to reflect the story of the times in which it came. Such stories remind us all to verify even those oral history stories that have passed down from one generation to the next. I have worked on a project recently where documents do not reflect the story that has been told. We live in a nation where millions of records survive time, and most families can be documented to a degree. As a result it is imperative that we follow the narrative and tell the story accurately, and make the effort to document what we are told. We must never stray from this goal.


Don’t forget to tune in for last night’s episode of Bernice Bennett’s show, Research at the National Archives and Beyond, on Blog Talk Radio. Her guest was Ada Anagho Brown, who hosts the Roots to Glory Tours. This was a different twist on a DNA story. Ms. Brown is from West Africa, and she took a DNA test. She ended up with matches who are African Americans. This somehow gave her a unique perspective on her history, and on her own connection to others in the diaspora. Excellent questions came from the chat room, as well as fascinating observations. If you missed it, tune in to hear last night’s episode, HERE.


Well thank you for tuning in again this week, and know that you are truly appreciated. Have a wonderful week of research, and remember to keep researching, keep documenting and always, keep sharing what you find.

Angela Y. Walton-Raji on March 12th, 2016

This Week's Pod Cast


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

It is good to be back in Maryland, after having spent some time in Central Virginia! I had a great time in Charlottesville where I had the chance to visit the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center and give a presentation there on the wonderful Freedmen’s Bureau records.

JeffersonSchoolI also had the chance to give a presentation about the site Mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau, that I co-created with friend and colleague Toni Carrier of Low Country Africana. A special thank you to Dr. Shelley Murphy for the wonderful hospitality shown to me last week down in Fluvanna County, Virginia. The places that I visited are still on my mind from the old Freedmen’s Bureau site in Gordonsville, Virginia, to Monticello.

Gordonsville Museum
Civil War Museum, Gordonsville, Virginia
Photo courtesy of Shelley Murphy

Wow what an experience is was! The history of that area is more than amazing! For me it was the first time I was in that part of Virginia and I saw the amazing impact of  Thomas Jefferson and that region while there. It was an eye-opening experience.


BlackProGen Hangout

Did you catch the BlackProGen Google Hangout? We had an amazing conversation about the resources for researchers from Mississippi, and Louisiana. Both states have different histories unique and yet similar. Louisiana offers a plethora of records of people enslaved, people who were free people of color, and records from the Amistad. We discussed the works of Dr. Gwendolyn Midlo Hall. The state of Mississippi offers unique records including the Educable children’s census. The language used on those records are surprising to some, and sadly some of the same sentiments prevail to this day towards children. If you missed the hangout–check out the videos on YouTube, and the schedule is on the website of Nicka Smith.


LA Conferences

A shout out to the folks in California, who are having a big weekend. Two genealogical conferences focusing on African American genealogy are occurring this weekend in Los Angeles. CAAGS and the Los Angeles Genesis group sponsored by the LDS Church, and Thom Reed, from the Discover Freedmen project and Paula Williams Madison who was a keynote speaker at Root Tech, is speaking there, also. Apparently that is the place to be this weekend. Hopefully in the future both groups may wish to work together and try some collaboration for one large conference.


Bernice's Logo

Did you catch Bernice Bennett’s show last night? Her guest was James Morgan III, who engaged in a conversation with her about fraternal organizations such as the Prince Hall Masons, the Benevolent Societies such as the Mosaic Templars, Eastern Star and others. Some have histories that go back to the 1700s. All have rich histories. They formed a major part of the social fabric of the African American communities. Some of the groups had human rights as a focus, and others provided opportunities for financial savings, providing structures within the communities. The discussion was a very good one, and I urge you to follow James Morgan III, follow him on Facebook, and if you have a chance to hear him speak, grab the opportunity to do so. These groups and their history will assist family historians to formulate the family story much better. Bernice’s show airs every Thursday evening at 9pm on Blog Talk Radio.



LongLostFamily  Genealogy on television is still going strong. Have you caught the two new shows? There is Relative Race and the latest one is Long Lost Family, a program for adoptees to find their birth families. A variation of this show aired before and it is back again, and is proving to be interesting. So catch both programs if you can.


Monticello View
Courtesy of Shelley Murphy

Before signing off, I will simply share that I am still wrapping my head around the many sites that I visited last week. Monticello is amazing and of course is supported by the Foundation. I was impressed that the lives of enslaved people are now being mentioned, and their stories are being told. There was acknowledgment of the story of Sally Hemmings and also the DNA tests. But beyond that–there was a true recognition that the stories of the enslaved do matter and that they are part of the place and therefore, they are being told. The lesson for us, is to incorporate our history into the local landscape where we live and where our ancestors lived. And tell the whole story. While visiting the home of Thomas Jefferson, one can appreciate his brilliance, and his madness. He could write words of such power and beauty as he spoke of freedom, yet he enslave others, including young children forced to make nails day after day. There is so much more to the story.

Monticello Reflections
Viewing exhibit in Visitor’s Center At Monticello
(Photo, courtesy of Shelley Murphy)

The complexity of the human spirit was so evident. Such a brilliant man, living in splendor. Yet he was a man who saw nothing wrong with human bondage. The cemetery is amazing and the slave cemetery is so humble. The silence in that burial ground is truly amazing!

Well, thank you for listening to my ramblings and my reaction to so much of what I saw last week. I appreciate you for being there as well, and know you are appreciated. In the meantime, please continue to do what you do….keep researching, keep documenting, keep sharing what you find!