Unearthing a Family Tree’s Diverse Roots

Journalist, novelist and playwright Thulani Davis traces her roots in her new book, My Confederate Kinfolk: a Twenty-First Century Freedwoman Discovers Her Roots. Among the revelations Davis uncovered was that her ancestors include a Scots-Irish clan of cotton planters as well as Africans from Sierra Leone. Read More … [Read more...]

New Exhibit Profiles Ontario’s Early Black History

TORONTO and DRESDEN, ON, Dec. 13 /CNW/ - A traveling exhibit called Enslaved Africans in Upper Canada will leave a lasting legacy for the McGuinty government's year-long commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the 1807 Abolition of the Slave Trade Act. Developed in collaboration with the Archives of Ontario, the exhibit introduces us to abolitionists and lawmakers, and tells the stories of the enslaved Africans who fought for freedom for all. "This year has been an opportunity for Ontarians to learn about a little known part of our province's history," said Ontario's Minister of … [Read more...]

From Slaves to Sharecroppers

The sign on the gate reads “No Trespassing.” The historic marker on the side of the road informs passersby that this is the Levi Jordan Plantation — “Home built 1848–1851 by slave labor; Materials came by sea, Florida to Velasco, and up the San Bernard River.” Beyond the padlocked gate is a hulk of a house that could inspire a Dickens novel — its windows and doors boarded and locked — shutting out everything but decay. The green Columbia bottomland stretches beyond. But while you listen to your footsteps past the house and the well and explore its fields and woods, you are walking with … [Read more...]

Getting to the Root of It: Sullivan Foundation Invites Attendees to Trace their Roots & Share in Africa’s History

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Guests at the Sullivan Foundation's Fifth Biennial Awards Dinner will be invited to trace theirroots and share in their African history at the dinner on December 13, 2007 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC (reception 6:00-7:00p.m.; dinner 7:00-10:00 p.m.). The Foundation will partner with African Ancestry to provide DNA testing kits on sale at the dinner. Attendees will be able to purchase the DNA test kits at a special discounted price of $285 (normal price $349). Another added incentive that night will be a 10% discount for … [Read more...]

Holding on to history may cost county dearly

DURHAM - Durham County's history is falling apart, and it will cost taxpayers nearly a million bucks to put it all back together.That's the cost of restoring an estimated 500,000 birth and death certificates dating back to the late 1800s that, until earlier this year, were stored in a less-than-ideal setting: the basement of the county health department. County leaders will soon decide whether to spend $945,000 to ship many of the records to a Massachusetts plant to be de-acidified and restored. "This is a pressing matter," Willie Covington, Durham County's register of deeds, told county … [Read more...]

The Epic of Ota Benga

In 1906 a Batwa tribesman from the Congo named Ota Benga was put in a cage and exhibited alongside an orangutan at the Bronx Zoo. The tribesman first arrived in the United States two years earlier in the care of a South Carolina anthropologist named Samuel Phillips Verner, who had been hired by the St. Louis World’s Fair to bring specimens of authentic African “pygmies” for display there. Ota Benga—whose wife and children had been lost during the Belgian government’s brutal rule in the Congo—remained with Verner until the anthropologist went bankrupt and decided to leave him in the care of the … [Read more...]

Africans’ Presence in Europe: Historical Perspective

Most of us seem to think that the presence of Africans in Europe is of recent times, though history shows otherwise. Africa had flourishing societies and highly developed cultures long before Europe, and of course people of Africa did travel and explore other continents. Black legions invaded Germany with Julius Ceasar, there have been discoveries in France, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Ireland, England and Finland, Scandinavia and as far north as the Arctic Circle. There were blacks among the Celts and Vikings, I have read some place that Thorhall the Hunter, Thorstein the Black and Halvdan Svarte … [Read more...]

State still has Civil War medals for 200 in black Union companies

Seven months after the Civil War ended and one week before ratification of the 13th Amendment made slavery unconstitutional, two West Virginia companies of an all-black Union Army regiment gathered near Philadelphia to receive their final pay and discharge papers. The date was Dec. 13, 1865, and the place was Camp Cadwalader, an Army base a few miles from Camp William Penn, where the men of the 45th U.S. Colored Infantry began their basic training in June 1864. Among the regiment’s recruits, according to Army records, were 212 “colored men mustered into the service of the United States … [Read more...]

Group fighting to save Love Cemetery in East Texas

SCOTTSVILLE, Texas – Doris Vitatoe paused midway through a cut-over thicket, deep in a pine forest, and nudged a mangled bit of metal with her cowboy boot. RON BASELICE/DMN Doris Vitatoe, 67, visits the grave site of her great-grandfather Ohio Taylor. Many of the grave markers have been misplaced. "That's a grave marker," she said. Eyes clouded, she resumed her tussle with chest-high weeds and wisteria. "Nothing left to read. Lord only knows who that is. My grandmother and grandfather – we haven't been able to find them in … [Read more...]