#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.
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 libraries! 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 Ancestry.com’s Library Edition. Each 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 [Ancestry.com]
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
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.
#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.