Passion drives effort to preserve history, search for roots

Candice McKnight all but moves mountains to help people find their roots. But it was on an imposing rock set down in a stranger’s yard in Missouri that she looked her own family’s past in the face. The president of the African-American Historical and Genealogical Society of Colorado Springs was visiting family when a cousin, who belonged to a historical society there, showed her the rock that had been a platform from which slaves were sold in the early 1800s. Intrigued, they found papers that showed that a great-great-grandmother had been sold there. But in an unusual twist, the woman … [Read more...]

When Family Trees Are Gnarled by Race

My paternal grandfather, Marshall Staples (1898-1969), was one of the millions of black Southerners who moved north in the Great Migration. Those of us in the family who were born Yankees in the years just after World War II were given an earful about our place in 19th-century Virginia — and specifically about Marshall’s white grandfather, a member of a slaveholding family who fathered at least one child with my great-great-grandmother, Somerville Staples. Stories like this are typical among African-Americans who have roots in the slave-era South and who have always spoken candidly about … [Read more...]

Researchers to reveal lost African-American historical record

The experiences of African-Americans in the Las Vegas area during its segregationist past have generally been portrayed in depictions of iconic showroom entertainers such as Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole and Dorothy Dandridge. A more comprehensive history of the African-American community in Southern Nevada will soon be collected and made accessible to the public, thanks to a collaborative effort between the collective libraries of UNLV, Clark County and Henderson, the Nevada State Museum, the City of Las Vegas and Vegas PBS. Read More … [Read more...]

Relatives come from across nation to pay respects at black cemetery

In a once-forgotten cemetery, surrounded by family, both living and dead, 91-year-old Leon Lewis spoke of his heritage. “This is the starting place of my ancestors,” he said. “This is where they came out of slavery. It’s important for the children to see and know this.” Lewis, the oldest surviving member of the Lewis-Logan family of Lakeview, traveled from his home in Denver to address the group of about 35 relatives who gathered at the Lakeview cemetery Friday. Buried in the all-black cemetery, on a hill east of Lecompton, were about 30 adults and about 20 infants. Lewis said Thomas … [Read more...]

Library makes available ‘African American Newspapers, 1827-1998’

The University of Delaware Library announces the online access to a much acclaimed new database, African American Newspapers, 1827-1998, which will provide online access to approximately 270 U.S. newspapers chronicling a century and a half of the African American experience. This unique collection features newspapers from more than 35 states -- including many rare and historically significant 19th century titles. Newly digitized, these newspapers initially published by or for African Americans can now be browsed and searched as never before. African American Newspapers, 1827-1998, is … [Read more...]

Sketching The Family Tree, Discovering His Family’s History

Lawrence Jackson went through most of his life not knowing much about his family history. He didn't even know the names of his great-grandparents. That didn't bother him until he had kids and wanted to share with them stories about their ancestors. So he began a search, armed with only early boyhood memories, from his home in Baltimore for Pittsylvania County, Virginia, to try to find his late grandfather's old home by the railroad tracks in Blairs, Virginia. Jackson describes his journey in a new book, "My Father's Name: A Black Virginia Family after the Civil War." Read More … [Read more...]

Atlanta Man Plans Memorial Day Reunion With African Kin

It may sound strange, but for William Holland, 43, of Atlanta, incorporating the long-lost African members of his family into this year’s family reunion is a reality. From the first DNA test he took in 2004 to his upcoming reunion this Memorial Day, Holland has accomplished the seemingly impossible through patience and sheer determination. Tracing his family line all the way from the Virginia plantations where his American forefathers worked to the Oku people of Cameroon, Holland then discovered that several members of his "African side" were closer than he ever imagined — living in … [Read more...]

African-American’s roots revised

If you're an African-American, tracing your roots back to the ancestral continent is hard enough — but tracing them back to the ancestral family? That requires genetic testing, plus family-history scholarship, plus trips to Africa, plus a little bit of faith. William Holland has filled all of those requirements, and to celebrate, he's planning a cross-continental family reunion for Memorial Day weekend in Virginia, where his ancestors were once held as slaves. "Memorial Day is a time for remembering the loved ones you lost, right?" Holland said. "So it's a good time to remember all those … [Read more...]

UNL profs digitize slave filings

Slave owner John Little wrote in June 1862 that his young slave Lucy "is perfectly sound and healthy, good tempered, honest, willing and industrious, a good house servant and her children are very promising." He described her as "a bright mulatto tall and good looking." Her fellow slave John, Little wrote, "is sound, strong, & healthy a first rate farm hand" with "no moral mental or bodily defect or infirmity." The two, he estimated, were worth a total of $3,200. Little's frank descriptions are included in a petition he submitted to the U.S. Treasury for payment after his four … [Read more...]

Project helps African-Americans identify with ancestors

Ever wondered where you get some of your habits, traits or cultural practices from? For instance, what made the girl serving your $5 extra-hot latte place what appear to be “plugs” in her ear lobes? Are you sure what the true meaning of your recent tattoo is, and furthermore what made you decide where to have the design placed on your body? Have you ever thought about why you were so interested in a distinct pattern or design, or why you style your hair in a certain way? According to Rozenia Johnson, founder of the MDUBA Associates, you are practicing “adornment,” which is “enhancing the … [Read more...]