Category Archives: ROOTStech

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 


rootstech: Check your Spiritual DNA

reporting from #ROOTStech2017

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 Church organized in 1896. 20170212_124234This special Church produced voices of inspiration that lit up African Heritage Day at 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 yoke1might 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:
~RootsTech 2018: February 28-March 3, 2018 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.