Everyone’s Genealogy Library or Family History arsenal must possess this Book by “the Godfather of Black Family History”, Tony Burroughs. He is a Historian, Internationally renown Master Genealogist, Lecturer and Best-selling Author. Mr. Burroughs is also the founder and CEO of the Center for Black Genealogy
I was privy to attending a lecture session of Mr. Tony Burroughs at RootsTech 2018. A vibrant speaker, he was thorough with a commanding presence and I quickly learned that in his tell of “the story” there was a minefield of clues and research strategies off the beaten trek; I was imbued to go back over some of my own steps concerning an Ancestor with an “African” birthplace and whose Mother and Father’s birthplace was Africa as well, on the 1880 U.S. Federal Census for Union, Nevada, Arkansas, USA. When I mentioned her surname, “Gulley” to Mr. Burroughs, there immediately was actual Family kinship who had shared their own inquiry with him prior, which turned out to be about my LYDIA GULLEY.
Seriously?! Out of 28,000 folks in attendance that year, Africans Americans represented less than 200, and I’d make a direct connection with a couple other Family Historians who’d share kinship with me in Mr. Burroughs’ session — the majesty of it all! Among many Distinguished Awards, Mr. Burroughs is also a sought after Professional Genealogist appearing on Television shows such as Oprah’s Roots on PBSwithHenry Louis Gatesand with Smokey Robinson on Who Do You Think You Are? Over 35 years in the field of Genealogical research and Family History he’s traced his own lineage back 8 generations. A dedicated Pioneer cultivating Family History advocacy, education and scholarship, aligns himself with the vision of his Institution that:
“Every person of African descent knows their family history.”
Traditional Dances steeped in West and Central African spiritual traditions, has invoked
DNA wisdom within me since the womb. I indentify with Òsùmàrè [Oxumaré – Brasilian Candomble] known as the “rainbow spirit” of Yoruba traditions holding dominion over the heavens and the earth bearing dual qualities of male and female; Òsùmàrè is the umbilical life-line of continuity’; this embodied concept permeates throughout the island of Haiti — undulating dance movements of Yanvalou, honoring the divine serpent duo known as lwa, Ayida-Wedo and Damballah-Wedo; where rainbow showers and white offerings activate writhing, from the cerebral cortex winding down to the coccyx. And in the Ancient star systems of the Dogon peoples exist the serpentine symbolism of the “double-helix”.
America’s noted discovery of DNA’s double helix in 1953, propelled a Congressional proclamation called National DNA on April 25, 2003. This initiative transcended into an anniverserial event carried forward by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), now celebrating it’s 15th year.
DNA testing is a powerful tool for identification. ~DNA Diagnostics Center
DNA testing made accessible for home use?! seemed almost unbelievable. For African Americans on their quest to find their ROOTS marked an important benchmark in Family History Research. Yet, long before I considered taking a DNA test I needed to consider a few things:
1st Exorcise historical Family ‘lore, fears and myths concerning taking such a test, in light of how much surplus blood I’ve given at a many Doctor and or Medical visits.
2nd I actually LOVE biology and particularly became fond of our Genetics component, in High school. Although I was aware of MESA [Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement] my Mom was actually a Health and Safety Lab technician at Lawrence Berkeley Labs and anything less than an ‘A’ in Biology and Chemistry was unacceptable.
3rd It became apparent that I needed to immerse myself, so I took workshops with Field leaders and binged on very accessible tutorials by Ancestry.com on youtube.com. Learning about the discoveries of other African American Genealogists and Family Historians heightened my determination. It was the dynamic delivery of Mr. Shannon Christmas, experienced genealogist specializing in genetic, colonial American, and African-American genealogy in Virginia and the Carolinas, that tipped my scales. He’s well-versed, studied and a dynamic lecturer whose sought out expertise and encouragement invoked me to buy 23andMe immediately after his lecture at #Rootstech2017, Salt-Lake City, Utah. Since then, 4 generations of my maternal line are tested. I’ve taken a second test with Ancestry.com and planning my 3rd effort through FamilyTreeDNA.
Soooo, over 1500 DNA matches later, I am a deep diver of Family History research and highly advise that working YOUR lines is a must, as it often said by experts that Genealogy and DNA testing goes hand-in-hand. And while waiting for your results to come back, make certain to interview your walking history – the Elders in your Family and continue to build your tree. In special cases of adoption, I can share that DNA testing will enhance your investigation, along with Genea-friend kin support, with select educational online sources; Consider every piece of information as a clue towards your find. To this day, I’ve be in the service to locate biological parentage of cherished friends and DNA matches who are adopted; If there ever was a testimony to share, this area of Genealogy, DNA testing bears powerful impact of transformation.
That being said, take all of these cues of inspiration and further your right to learn about your birthright through your Ancestral codes. Testing opportunities are accessible, available and now on SALE. ~ workingmylines.org #workingmylines
Woke up on the 3rd Day of #ROOTStech conferencing, WHIPPED from all of the frenzy of information as the Salt Lake Palace Convention Center is huge, boasting “515,000 square feet (47,800 m2) of exhibit space, 164,000 square feet (15,200 m2) of meeting space including a 45,000-square-foot (4,200 m2) grand ballroom, and 66 meeting rooms.”* There were tens of thousands in attendance, over 200 sessions to choose from, with an Innovator Summit in tow and the most concise Genealogy EXPO one can attend in field knowledge, industry and education planting supple training grounds– whew, Salt Lake City breeds Genealogy and Ancestor research.
My head says stay guided, so after my morning meditations, I turn on the television looking for Gospel programming and as loud as day, this message broadcasts:
“Your spiritual bloodline will always overpower your natural bloodline”
LOL, Pastor Joel Olsteen’s Sermon of the day, I got it! Paraphrased, learn who you are, for your are destined for greatness. He went on to cite “Your spiritual bloodline will always overpower your natural bloodline.” POW, I resonate with this through a legacy of study of African Spiritual traditions and deep reverence for Native American Ancestral propitiation; I am also further inspired that the very root of our Family Spiritual beliefs, is aligned with this overarching message. Generations of social challenges, dysfunctional Family cycles, incomplete rites of passage breeds an insurmountable occurrences of psycho-spiritual calamity in our African Ancestored communities.
Senior Cousin Donald Culverson, Ph.D.Associate Professor, Governor’s State University, Chicago, IL
Trumpeting MAAGI at #ROOTStech, I’ve learned under the auspices of fantastically intelligent minds decoding Ancestor codes and destroying “brick wall” theories. Our Ancestral codes tell us more than where we come from, they give inference as to how we lived, what codes of success we can be inspired by to further prosper our lives; one can learn about Family medical history to chromosomal defects that may affect childbearing and rearing aspirations. One common tenet I’ve learned in my own Family research and personal sojourn is that my folks were devout Spirit people, and yes CHURCH was at the helm. The partnering tenet was education, for as soon as it was made accessible to them without the lash of a whip or “Holy terror” tactics, my maternal second great-grandfather James “Gabe” Coleman born in 1870 Alabama, attended Tuskegee Institute, his granddaughter my maternal grandmother [living] went to Southern and today my niece attends New York University [NYU]. As there are a number of Educational success stories in our family, there also exists specialists who were administrators for Oakland Unified School District for over 30 years, College and University Professors in Chicago and Bakersfield to President of Merritt College in Oakland, California. Others of us are Teachers in Special Education and Arts and Cultural enrichment programs, to licensed and credentialed Health Care Professionals serving as Registered Nurses and Social Welfare Counselors.
Post conference, I was privilege to receive an invitation by one of Salt Lake City’s proud natives and Church member Brother Stephen Debies via his partner Sister Robyn Cherry to attend the historical Calvary Baptist Churchorganized in 1896. This special Church produced voices of inspiration that lit up African Heritage Dayat ROOTStech, lifting up thousands in attendance. On 1st Sunday in Salt Lake City, Calvary’s Activist and Pastor, France A. Davis shared inspiration from the word that day** what we have received, we ought to put it to good use in God’s kingdom and minister to one another… offering up the day’s Sermon, “A Good Steward of the Manifold Grace of God”. I often believe that at their very best, Family Elders work hard to provide and want their families to do well often battling and balancing the course of Family hardship. In this course, I count my blessings daily and strive to stay inspired in my service works to produce spiritual efficacy to overcome these challenges as Pastor Davis’ sermon further speaks about “manifold grace” — manifesting itself in one way to serve my needs whereby my needs met, can begin to serve another.[Calvary Baptist notes forthcoming]
I share this teaching moment… On the last day of #ROOTStech although it was nearly the end of the conference, I rushed to strategize a question to illicit some of the expertise that the “Coaches Corner” had to offer, knowing that the appointments were probably filled — yet the “face drop” response to my inquiry regarding my African American 3rd great grandfather led me to believe, I simply got an expert who didn’t specialize in “my area” as she responded with swift empathy. I knowing that African Ancestored Genealogy is deeply entrenched in World History, I pressed forward calibrating my question resulting in the familiar database response checks. CHECK! Out of time, no problem, “I’m all the way up,” next stop post conference Family History Library research — STILL STOKED.
Scripture inspiration offers that “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22). The harrowing nature of American History and slavery might have broken a many Spirits, yet at the same time, many chains of slavery were broken through the might of Spirit and Faith from liberation to emancipation.
Honor the “walking history” of wealth that dwell among you — your Elders! Listen, learn, record and chart their stories, we can benefit from their embodied knowledge; We are that much more abundant transcending the yoke of our Ancestors. And if you don’t know that by now, then start counting your blessings, starting with your breath; drink from the fountain of Ancestral wealth, be full and then refresh the cup of another. Today, my cup runneth over as I finally send off my first DNA test and skip over to the Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. ~ #workingmylines
*[Salt Palace – Wikipedia]
** Feb. 12, 2017 note: Sermon by Reverend Dr. Frances A. Davis, Calvary Baptist Church, SLC, Utah
~MAAGI: Midwestern African American Genealogy Institute – July 11th – 13th 2017: www.maagiinstitute.org/
~RootsTech 2018: February 28-March 3, 2018 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
New Orleans is a myriad of dynamic movement on the ground, filled with voluminous aural sensory, cosmical crossings and most certainly movement through the people. In July 2015, I was prepping for full immersion into New Orleans Historic Collection “Purchased Lives” Exhibit and the American Slave Trade 1808-1865 as part of my field-research works; The experience was an awe-inspiring ethereal visual display of artifacts, accounts, bills, ledgers and clothing, citing various landmarks throughout the historic French Quarter once fully immersed in a thriving economy, and said to be the site of the largest Slave Market in antebellum America.
“…more than two million people were forcibly moved within the boundaries of the United States and its territories…Owners and traders in the Upper South—Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, DC—sold and shipped surplus laborers to the expanding Lower South.” ~civilrightsmuseum.org
Sounds like the history of any of your folks?! I know NOW that it most certainly does of some of mine — Learn more about my sojourn from a previous blog post :
#Maafa commemoration March in conjunction with the #BYP100NOLA taking a moment to stand on the corner of Chartres and St. Louis in the French Quarter which was once the site of one of the largest slave markets. Through the efforts of this same movement, the originally “decor” including slave chains and whips were removed after a direct community led action during Essence Fest. A plaque on the restaurant that sits on the corner , “The Original Pierre Maspero Restaurant reads:
“ORIGINAL PIERRE MASPERO’S SLAVE EXCHANGE – EST 1788.Within this historic structure slaves were sold …”
I am moved and grounded by reading a good book. As much as I love to surf the web, research online or build social media formats, I love the adventuresome qualities of of collecting books of interests and find that buying or gifting books is an invaluable investment. In my Genealogy works before there was internet, I frequented libraries, museums and institutions for information in researching my Family History, while learning about historical elements associated with my heritage. With the introduction of Technology and subsequent passages of the Freedom of Information Acts, [FOIA] Genealogy has become a billion dollar business captivating our attention, our minds and in some cases eclipsing invaluable connections like face-to-face contact, while shortening the attention spans of some presuming that they “don’t have time for reading.”Libraries, Museums and Historical Institutions are the great halls of information equally valuable as our online technological cohorts.
Most recently, I was an organic conduit for bridging a trio of these components: