Posted on January 17, 2010 by rkb191
A few years ago when I started this wonderfully obsessive hobby, I became very frustrated with the difficulty I was having documenting the first generation beyond my grand-parents. I mean, these were people that lived during my lifetime in some cases; but woefully little documentation (let alone pictures) where available for me to put my hands on. Now, if you’ve visited my little space in the world here, you know that I got over it. In fact, recently I documented my 1,000th direct relative.
Pushing ahead through the frustration was due, in no small part, to my old friend Dr. H.L. Gates. I became an avid fan, and purchaser of African American Lives I and II. What encouraged me beyond the fascinating stories and details of lives long past was the fact that, even with extensive research time, funding and dozens of professional genealogists, sometimes there are just ‘blanks’ on your pedigree chart. There just are… and it doesn’t mean you are a bad researcher or something is wrong with your family. It simply means you haven’t turned over the right rock…..yet.
Well, it seems Dr. Gates is at it again…. and this time he’s tackling genealogy beyond black folks.
I’ll certainly be watching, and I hope others are similarly inspired. In case anyone visiting here hasn’t seen AAL I or II, here’s a pre-view of II to get you inspired to watch….
Filed under: Genealogy, Misc. | Tagged: Research | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 15, 2009 by rkb191
It is not my intent to use this site to talk about current events, but when they keep cropping up with direct connections to African American genealogy; I feel compelled to post.
Dr. Henry Louis Gates (before his unfortunate episode with the police earlier this year) produced a fantastic series called African American Lives. The two part series was devoted to using a variety of genealogical methods to uncovering the ancestral pasts of several well-known blacks. Tom Joyner took part and learned of his family’s anguished encounter with “southern justice”….
Well, today CNN published a story on the follow-up Mr. Joyner has done since learning about these circumstances.
Nearly 100 years had passed since his great-uncles, Thomas Griffin and Meeks Griffin, were wrongfully executed in South Carolina. On Wednesday, a board voted 7-0 to pardon both men, clearing their names in the 1913 killing of a veteran of the Confederate Army.
It marks the first time in history that South Carolina has issued a posthumous pardon in a capital murder case.
I haven’t been doing this research very long, but I get the sense that these recent past meets the present stories are just the start of things to come.
Filed under: Genealogy, Misc. | Tagged: Death, The South | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 9, 2009 by rkb191
For any true family historian, this week’s stories regarding Michelle Obama’s lineage must catch the eye. While you will likely never see political discourse on this site, Mr. Obama’s (and by their union, Mrs. Obama’s) ascension to the presidency was a water-shed moment for the United States. As seemingly has become the custom, genealogists from all over began the search to detail (and source) the ancestry of these two contemporary American figures.
The interesting item for me in the story of one of Mrs. Obama Caucasian ancestors. Her 3rd Great Grandmother, Melvinia Shields, was a teenage girl recently relocated from the only family and home she’d ever know in South Carolina and moved to Georgia.
It is difficult to say who might have impregnated Melvinia, who gave birth to Dolphus around 1859, when she was perhaps as young as 15. At the time, Henry Shields was in his late 40s and had four sons ages 19 to 24, but other men may have spent time on the farm.
“No one should be surprised anymore to hear about the number of rapes and the amount of sexual exploitation that took place under slavery; it was an everyday experience, “ said Jason A. Gillmer, a law professor at Texas Wesleyan University, who has researched liaisons between slave owners and slaves. “But we do find that some of these relationships can be very complex.”
One hundred and fifty years later, Melvinia’s sacrifices produced unique fruit; a strong African American First Lady of the United States. What would Melvinia think of that outcome? If she could know what might come of her descendants, would she feel that the ends, in any way, justify the means? Would my female ancestors think in a similar way given my life and the lives of my children (I’m not the president, but my life is reasonably comfortable)? Chris Rock tried to sum it up during one of his concerts a few years back.
“If you’re black, you gotta look at America a little bit different. You gotta look at America like the uncle who paid for you to go to college … but molested you.”
Filed under: Misc. | Tagged: Other Blogs, Slaveholders | 4 Comments »