African American News and Genealogy

This site was developed to provide you with news that relates to African American Genealogy, History and News. Please feel free to forward this link to others. I hope you enjoy this site and good luck with your research! Cheers, Kenyatta D. Berry Managing Director

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Taking time to sit with voice from past

By Dan Hurley Post columnist Visiting certain spots in Greater Cincinnati helps me think in fresh ways. One of those spots is the park bench partially occupied by a statue of James Bradley along Riverside Drive in Covington. Once or twice a year I find myself sitting with Brad-ley contemplating whether or not I am willing to risk looking at the world through someone else's eyes. The bronze statue of Bradley sits on a bench with an open Bible in his hands and the Ohio River stretching out before him. Born in Africa, James Bradley was enslaved and brought to America. As a young adult, he earned enough money to purchase his freedom, and found his way to Cincinnati, where he enrolled at Lane Seminary in Walnut Hills. Here, Bradley found himself in the center of a debate that would soon engulf the North and frighten the South. For 18 nights in February 1834, the students debated the question, "Ought the people of the Slaveholding States to abolish Slavery immediately?" On the one side stood those who supported the traditional "colonization" position that slavery could only be ended gradually, and that all freed slaves had to be colonized back to Africa. The gradualism inherent in their stance guaranteed that slavery would never end. Full Story:

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Reflections of Black Austin

African Americans helped in molding cityWednesday, February 22, 2006 An earlier version of this story contained an error. Go to our Corrections page for a full explanation. The first black man to lay eyes on the rocky steppes that eventually became Austin might have been Estevanico — known as "the Moor" in history books — who traveled through Texas with Cabeza de Vaca in 1528. But three more centuries passed before the first documented arrival of black people here, with a work crew that began laying out the new capital of the Republic of Texas in 1839. There had been legal impediments to slavery under Spanish and Mexican rule, and Texas was a place where some African Americans could grab and hold for themselves a measure of freedom. All that changed after Texas won its independence, and welcomed an influx of slave-holding settlers. Emancipation came notoriously late in Texas, and it was entrepreneurial former slaves who became many of Austin's most prominent black citizens: land developers, newspaper publishers, religious and political leaders, business owners, educators, physicians. In recent times, concern has been raised for the future of the community they built. That concern last year led the City Council to adopt a plan for improving the quality of life of African Americans in Austin. Meanwhile, here are just a few of the people, places and events taken from the album of black history in Austin. Full Story:

Women preserve history of Toledo's African-Americans

Lillian Ashcraft-Eason and Edrene Cole work on oral history project By RHONDA B. SEWELLBLADE STAFF WRITER Marilyn J. Anderson recalled her grandmother Alice Gray Shoecraft as a tall, stately woman who shared stories of interactions with Native Americans, and who helped found Warren AME, considered Toledo's oldest African-American church. Marcellus McFarland and Morris Esmond, now both in their 80s and friends since their youth, reminisced of their days playing in locally sponsored "all-Negro" traveling baseball leagues. Pay was minimal - about $3 a day - and racism was alive and well as the teams traveled through other towns. Stephanie Poindexter noticed her grandmother, Vanilla Cook, in a black-and-white photograph taken in the early 1920s. The Cook family, early black settlers in the Toledo area, later owned several businesses, including a tourists' home and cleaning service. These memories, observances, and stories have been carefully collected and compiled into the African-American "Toledo Oral History Project II," by Edrene Cole, a retired Toledo Public Schools principal, and Lillian Ashcraft-Eason, director of Africana Studies at Bowling Green State University. The project includes a written document of essays and photographs, and oral history interviews saved on more than a dozen DVDs. The women's almost-two-year project is a continuation of the vast amount of information first documented in Mrs. Cole's 1972 University of Toledo master's thesis, "Blacks in Toledo," which chronicled early African-American life here. "My primary concern in my thesis was black life here prior to the turn of the century, but I also wanted to do a Part Two on what life was like from the 1950s on," said Mrs. Cole, who also worked extensively on the current oral history project with Mrs. Ashcraft-Eason's husband, Louis Djisovi Ikukomi Eason, who died last fall. He was a historian in culture studies and a coordinator of an ethnic cultural arts program at BGSU. Full Story:

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Chef Drew on Family's History in Reviving Southern Cuisine

By Mary Rourke, Times Staff Writer Edna Lewis, who helped launch a revival of Southern regional cooking with her four books, particularly "The Taste of Country Cooking," died Monday. She was 89.Lewis died of natural causes in her sleep at her home in Decatur, Ga., Scott Peacock, a longtime friend and Lewis' housemate in recent years, told The Times. She had been in failing health for several years and suffered from dementia. The granddaughter of freed slaves in Freetown, a Virginia farming community, Lewis had an eclectic career working as a restaurant chef, a pheasant farmer and a cooking teacher, among other things. But her cookbooks brought her national recognition. Along with "The Taste of Country Cooking" in 1976, she wrote "The Edna Lewis Cookbook" in 1972 and "In Pursuit of Flavor" in 1988. She and Peacock wrote "The Gift of Southern Cooking" in 2003."Edna was a very important voice for her knowledge of Virginia-style Southern food and cooking," Judith Jones, Lewis' editor at Alfred A. Knopf publishers, told The Times in 2003. "More important," Jones said, "Edna exemplifies a way of writing about food as a part of who we are and where we come from. It is food writing as memoir."Some food experts referred to Lewis as the leading African American female chef. Others placed her as the dean of all Southern cooking. Full Story:,0,5352436.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-california

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Ex-slaves' story told in movie

The Associated Press HILTON HEAD ISLAND - James Henderson stumbled across the state's first village for freed slaves while looking for the beach one day. But the story of Mitchelville grabbed him so that he felt he had to tell it on film. His short documentary "Remnants of Mitchelville" will be shown this week as part of the Native Islander Gullah Celebration. The film started out as a 15-minute documentary, but Henderson added five more minutes as he discovered new material since first releasing the film. The project began when Henderson was a graduate student at the University of South Carolina. He spotted a historical marker while looking for the beach in Hilton Head Island. "The marker itself doesn't say much," said Henderson, who is now the media services director in the university's art department. "The story just wouldn't let me go. The story itself seemed suited for a movie." Mitchelville was established in the 1860s by Union troops who occupied Hilton Head, but it was built and run by former slaves. Located on the shores of Port Royal Sound, the village had as many as 1,500 residents at its peak. Very little history is written on the site. Henderson had to rely on old newspaper articles, written accounts from visiting ministers and personal stories. Full Story:

Africans in Mexico: A blunt history

Pilsen museum opens ambitious exhibition, asking tough questions about racial identity south of the borderBy Oscar AvilaTribune staff reporterPublished February 8, 2006 Unknown even to many Mexicans, Africans helped build their country--toiling in silver mines, fighting alongside Zapata's guerrillas during the 1910 revolution and shaping cultural traditions such as Carnaval, which sprang from African roots.Africans in Mexico also have suffered some of the same brutality and bias as their kinsmen north of the border.Now, as Mexicans migrate to Chicago, some find themselves competing with African-Americans for aldermanic seats, factory jobs, even gang turf.That shared heritage and intertwined future are at the heart of a new exhibition at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, "The African Presence in Mexico," the most ambitious and potentially controversial project ever for the Pilsen institution.The exhibition asks tough questions about racial identity and politics, starting with the paintings, photographs, sculptures and videos, some of them jarring.The centerpiece of one hall is a huge tableau showing two lynchings--one an African-American being lynched by white southerners, the other an African in Mexico being hung by a Spaniard. Between them is a panel of racial caricatures of Spaniards, Africans and indigenous Mexicans.Organizers plan to convene panels of scholars to discuss antidotes to the modern-day divide. Later projects include an exchange between Mexican and African-American church members in Chicago. Full Story:,1,5740635.story?coll=chi-newslocalchicago-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true

Breaking down the wall of geneology

Dubbed the ‘1870 Wall’, there is a common misconception that AfricanAmericans can not trace their ancestry beyond the year 1870. That was the first year newly freed slaves were listed by name on the federal census. But, with tools like the Slave Narratives, DNA testing and the Internet, that wall can begin to come down. On Saturday, Feb.11, the Tyrrell Historical Library will hold an AfricanAmerican genealogy seminar at the Elmo Willard Library from 2 till 4 p.m. “This is an incredibly exciting time for African-American genealogy,”said Penny Clark, archivist at the Tyrrell Historical Library. In 1861, ten percent of all AfricanAmericans were not slaves but free people whose lives could be readily documented. Today, lives of blacks held as slaves can be traced through a wide array of genealogical sources. Through the Slave Narratives, African Americans can get a firsthand look at the life of their ancestors. The Slave Narratives are oral narratives transcribed in the 1930s, of more than 3,500 former slaves. They are searchable by name and subject and “can provide a wealth of genealogy,” said Clark. “The Slave Narratives are available on a website called” Clark suggests researchers save about $200 a year by using through the public library system where the services, including the Salve Narratives, are free to the public Full Story:

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Grounds For Serious Reflection

As African American Museum Site Is Weighed, The Mall Looms Large By Jacqueline Trescott, Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, January 30, 2006; Page C01 In 1863, Philip Reid, a slave, finished supervising the bronze casting of the statue "Freedom" for the U.S. Capitol. When it was hoisted atop the dome, a 35-gun salute rattled across Capitol Hill. A hundred years later on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. declared that black citizens should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Hundreds of thousands cheered. The vast ribbon of grass between the majestic Lincoln and the marble Capitol has been a public stage for all Americans, but African American history especially has played out on and around the Mall in scenes that are symbolic, salutary and shameful. Everywhere on the Mall are echoes of marching feet, slaves' cries, market peddlers' calls, children's laughter and the singing of black men at the Million Man March. But there never has been a place there to commemorate the African American story. Today, more than 42 years after King's triumphant moment, that history is expected to find a home. The Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution is scheduled to meet this morning to select a site for the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Of the four spots under consideration, two are on the Mall and two are nearby. Full Story:

Farmers Insurance Group(R) Announces a National Black History Educational Initiative for Educators

Monday January 30, 11:00 am ET LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 30, 2006--Farmers Insurance Group® has partnered with the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) to bring African-American history to life in classrooms around the country through a new and exciting documentary film -- "Freedom's Song: 100 years of African-American struggle and triumph." The "Freedom's Song" program will officially launch in Houston, Texas, on February 16, 2006, but other cities are on the horizon, including Colorado Springs on February 17, Los Angeles on February 21 and Washington, D.C., on February 24. Full Story: