Category Archives: Diaspora Kinship ROOTS

Questlove’s quest, unearthed my Ancestor quest.

#workingmylines Raw and Rooted! My fast-paced race walk on a journey has now gained wings, as I prepare to join thousands more to RootsTech 2018 Genealogy/Technology Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Ancestors are on the mainline and await your call…I am tried and TRUTH that no boundaries and no brick wall can keep you from your birthright.

#workingmylines from another angle, about 2-3 years ago I came across a U.S. Census document bearing the GULLEY surname of my maternal Family side. When I gleaned the record to learn that two of the Family members’ birthplace was cited “Africa” I was stunned! This was 1880, after emancipation and during an era in U.S. Census history where the names of the formerly enslaved were listed, beginning in 1870 for some areas. I held onto the document until I could corroborate shared Ancestry.

* African born Ancestors, GULLEY Matriarchs of our Family *

Recently, I watched the PBS series hosted by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr “Finding Your Roots” featuring a segment on Producer and Grammy award-winning band member of The Roots, Questlove. A most compelling breakthrough in his Family history research was a similar document like mine citing “Africa” as the birthplace of his 3rd great-grandparents Charlie and Maggie LEWIS, my eyes bucked! Minutes later the episode whisked us through a phenomenally well-documented sojourn all the way to the Kingdom of Dahomey, today known as the Republic of Benin where a Southern planter “bought” and “illegally” shipped over 100 Africans on the “Clotilde”, 5 decades after the slave trade was abolished. What an extended version of a first time session, learning about your Family History all the way to the Motherland and back.

Distant cousins would then give Questlove a rare glimpse seeing that “his eyes” bear a strong Family resemblance to his Ancestor, Charlie LEWIS.

Oakland Family History Center, my favorite study hub.

By association, the historic proportions of this story are equally compelling to that of Cudjoe LEWIS, the last known survivor of the slave ship “Clotilde”.  Being shipped to the sharecropping South as a teenager, after tireless attempts to return home, his clan eventually founded Mobile, Alabama’s historical “Africa town” with many of his descendants still living today as learned through Genealogist expert and #BlackProGen, Angela Raji Walton’s blog post-Jul. 2014 “The Heartache of Cudjoe Lewis”: 


*whew* I was super excited and inspired by all of this, most certainly rocking the airwaves of PBS as well as the world of Genealogy; I anxiously fetched that “GULLEY” Census document

pulling an all-nighter determined to make sense of twirling Family branches, contacting member trees on, vetting, corroborating, creating timelines [thank you Ms. Shelly Murhpy] prayers, intuition and taking cues from Ancestral hunches. And by dawn, I learned that those GULLEYS are indeed my continental African Ancestors.

Although I share a very truncated version of this story, today I remark that my research was straight paper, no DNA testing…Genealogical research is imperative in concert with additional technological and scientific methods.  I immerse myself in study sessions, intensives and conference study that advance my expertise, often gaining cutting-edge

          My first RootsTech2017 badge,             Salt Lake City, Utah

strategies that produce genealogical research break thru. Since 2013 #Dancestory2013 aka #nzoCALIFAncestry has been my trajectory of Community service, to illuminate the embodied Ancestral knowledge vested in Dance, Drum, and Cultural Artists in the Bay Area or those with guided intention to learn about their Ancestors.

My Maternal Matriarch is tenacious about learning and teaching Family History. And as I’ve just learned that my Grandmother’s DNA reports are in, my GULLEY Ancestral Matriarchs have shown me that when you call their names, they bless you with unimaginable wisdom, serving as your birthright.
I truly encourage your support as your Genealogy emissary and Community Ambassador, please continue to GIVE and SHARE these good works forward.

in shared kinship works,

R. Califa Calloway, Field Research Genealogist 
Professional Teaching Artist / Curator | #nzoCALIFAncestry 


Rain or Shine, Ancestors come thru!

#nzoCALIFAncestry is my Community platform for cultivating Genealogy kinship and Ancestral/Communal Healing initiatives.

On a rainy Sunday, November 26, 2017, one enters the double doors of the Community Room of the Oakland Main Public Library, [OPL]  interested to research their Family History, open for messages and possibilities.  By the day’s end [literally] the room had indeed been imbued by an early evening of compelling Family stories shared, stories passed down and some in fragments; one attendee brings 2 stacks of Family data research, another brings a table long chart of her Family Tree – this session is primed. #RiteOn

We began this day getting right to work to chart our Family tree on a template provided, instrumental to guide the attendees’ next steps in their research.  The room was prayed up and prepared to receive 16 faithful and determined Family members who openly gave voice to their Ancestors’ by calling out their names, as those in the room who shared a common surname echoed back in response:

     Akridge, Amey, Barnes, Barnum, Blackman, Brady, Brooks, Butler, Callahan, Calloway, Chancey, Chenoweth, Coleman, Cook, Cornell, Donaldson,  Dozier, Dunn, Garcias, Gayle, George, Hairston, Hall, Harding, Hemphill, Homer, Hunter, Lewis, Livingston, Lowery,  Lynn, McClennon, Moore, Mosely, Motley, Nash, Olivo, Orias, Ortiz, Pacheco, Pittman, Robinson, Stamps, Tan, Thomas, Turner, Van Hook, Walston, Waters, White, Wright…

We also cite the places our Ancestors traveled and sojourned; including those who were shipped and or sold away, migrated through many regions, across waters, trails, and areas such as:

Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Texas, Texarkansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia,  Chile, China, Haiti, Ireland, Italy, Liberia, Mexico, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Scotland, and California.

Session II – Genealogy/kinship attendees at Oakland Public MAIN Library, conducted by R. Califa Calloway, #nzoCALIFAncestry. Sunday, November 26, 2017

     As our aural senses were briefly disturbed by outside bellows of anger and resentment being ushered out of the Library’s temporary cove, we braced ourselves and re-centered with deeper focus. [Bless ’em]  Each member was steadfast to share their story, even with gentle time warnings. [I, feeling like biting my nails, carefully glancing at the time] I stay mindful recognizing that the room had become safe space.  For some, it was their first time and their hearts desire to find a Father or learn more about that unknown great from the South, while others wanted to expand a Family line — all knowing that everyone in the room is genuinely listening with shared intentions in kinship; As a Genealogist / Teaching Artist I was elated, and as a conductor I respectfully surrendered to the process.

My keychain arsenal holds over 23 library cards from throughout the country, I love meme_LoveLibrarieslibraries!    It was a distinct pleasure to introduce the OPL’s Genealogy and Historical Records online to aid in their Family History research. With some surprised and others eager to dive in, the time had prospered forward to put research into motion, and so we began with the’s Library EditionEach attendee started with “that Ancestor”  and was guided through each search prompt, aided by a few additional tips to advance the search in cases of the unknown:

  • Add Mother and Father or sibling
  • List the State and Country if you don’t know City
  • Estimate birth and death year
  • List known resident locations
  • Clarify “Race/Nationality” prompt []
Click the link to see the list of online resources at Oakland Public Library:

The minute each attendee, pushed Ancestry’s “search button” a quiet stir hit the room;  heads were hunched down tenaciously gleaning U.S. Census records to locate “that Ancestor”.    According to the nation’s “oldest record keeper” the National Archives and Records Administration [NARA]

“Census records can provide the building blocks of your research, allowing you to both confirm information, and to learn more.” ~ NARA website

When “Walston cousins meet. Thank you,  Deborah Bryson

I’ll add that Census takers are human too *wink*.   In the next moment, an unknown Father’s information was located;  Hmmm looks like there’s more than one Family member with the same name, how could this be true? Another’s Family line extends a generation, while further research by a 1st session attendee, leads to documents from the Philippines corroborating her “Tan” connection.

[now we’re over time]  A school bell rings in my head, reminding me of my Mama Georgia’s saying “Play time is ovah, time to come on in”.  As a Professional Dance Teacher, I now urgently give cues to relentless minds now locked in on finding out more and announce to make preparations to gather in a circle.  The room was now filled, and so was every attendee filled with discoveries made possible by their Ancestor’s presence.  I’m deeply humbled, I am too filled, yet remain reticent to skillfully guide us into the ’round — hands clasped, hearts full, Ori-centered to release, give thanks, align and “Give Praise to Life”.  *breath*

Egun Ire’o, Egun Iba’se  // R. Califa Calloway, #nzoCALIFAncestry

Follow my latest campaign and Sophomoric journey to the Genealogy Mega-Conference #Regina2RootsTech2018, Salt Lake City Utah;  I’m cultivating Genealogy / Family History/ Ancestral kinship sessions and taking names to advance my expertise and training in Genealogical methods, research strategies, and Technology.

She Ready!!!

#nzoCALIFAncestry Genealogy kinship service welcomes Cultural Presentations, Conference and Panel invite; I am enthusiastic about Intentional Retreats & Inner-Circle gatherings that facilitate Communal & Ancestral Healing works.  Dedicated to restoring Family Charters, I partner in Personal Development and Transformation initiatives as Family Reunions and Family gatherings are a fave.  Contact me today, and let’s envision.

R. Califa Calloway


  • #nzoCALIFAncestry Genealogy Kinship sessions appeared in concert with the            Malonga Center Community Ancestral Installation at the Oakland Public Main Library, Nov. 2, 2017 – Dec. 1, 2017 | Curator/Lead Artist: Regina “Califa” Calloway
  • Made possible through shared partnering:  Nzo Califa Dance Works, Kongo SQ West Kinship Society, Oakland Public Main Library & DelinaDream Productions.










OUR Read! Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence and the Archive

by Professor Marisa J. Fuentes – Based on the interview by
*Special note of gratitude to Rhoda A. Green of Barbados and the Carolinas                        Legacy Foundation for her Facebook post share aware. 

Book listed at #workingmylines

Continue to innerstand the journey of African Women throughout the Americas, begin to overstand the plight of where Black/African/Colored Women stand today.  Clear your mental palate to follow this critically researched sojourn; UC Santa Cruz Alumni           Marisa J. Fuentes lived 2 years in Barbados with guided focus upon Bridgeport. And through research and examinations reveal a glimpse of the atrocities of day-to-day life of African-Ancestored Women enslaved in Barbados– avoid any notion of making “simple dichotomies” and honor these stories, their stories, Our stories as it were… // RWC