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, July 16, 2006

Black scholar joins Sons of the American Revolution

10:40 AM CDT on Tuesday, July 11, 2006 By JEROME WEEKS / The Dallas Morning News ADDISON – Groucho Marx would have approved.

On Monday, Henry Louis Gates Jr. – noted black scholar (The Signifying Monkey), Harvard professor and TV host (America Beyond the Color Line) – joined an organization that wouldn't have had him as a member not too long ago. Dr. Gates was inducted into the Sons of the American Revolution at the lineage society's 116th annual convention, which is being held through Wednesday at Addison's Hotel Intercontinental. He joins only a few dozen black Americans among the 26,000 members. The event was taped for the second season of African-American Lives, Dr. Gates' PBS series on black genealogy. "You could have knocked me over with a feather," Dr. Gates recalled Monday of the moment he learned he had an ancestor who served in the Continental Army. It happened in February during a taping for African-American Lives. Dr. Gates was shown evidence of an ancestor, seven generations in the past, but not the white slaveholder he'd expected. Rather, it was a free mulatto, John Redman, who enlisted in a Virginia regiment in 1778. About 5,000 black Americans served during the Revolutionary War, but that is only a guess, said Joseph Dooley, head of the membership committee. "Perhaps as much as 10 percent of the Continental Army was black." Dr. Gates' fascination with family history inspired his PBS series as well as his hiring genealogist Jane Ailes to research his family. Although white, Ms. Ailes, it turns out, is also a distant relative. The Sons of the American Revolution and its sibling organization, the Daughters of the American Revolution, have had a history of segregation, Dr. Gates pointed out to the several hundred assembled members. He cited the DAR's infamous 1939 ban on the black contralto Marian Anderson from singing at Washington, D.C.'s Constitution Hall as well as black educator W.E.B. DuBois' rejected attempt to join the SAR in 1908. There have been black members for decades now, however, and last year, current SAR president general Roland Downing reported, the DuBois decision was overturned. Black or white, not many new members get to address the annual meeting. "Oh, they do this for everybody," Dr. Gates joked. "Everybody who comes with a PBS film crew." But Dr. Gates also spoke to the SAR to announce a project with Mr. Dooley that may lead to many more black Americans joining. Supported by Harvard's W.E.B. DuBois Institute, Ms. Ailes will compare 80,000 pension requests from Revolutionary veterans with census records to determine which vets were black. She's already found six. "Just think," Dr. Gates said looking out over the hotel ballroom. "Pretty soon, this place gonna look like Harlem." E-mail


Post a Comment

<< Home