Tuesday, November 18, 2008

AfriGeneas: From Africa to the Americas

I stumbled upon an excellent resource recently for African American family history research: AfriGeneas (pronounced: A · fri · GEE · nee · as). Users submit information that they have on their family members into searchable databases, allowing African Americans to search Census records, death records and obituaries, marriage records, photos, and even some slave records for their ancestors. There are also discussion forums, places to list or search for family reunions, and a "Lunch Bunch"--an online chat group that meets Monday through Friday from noon to 1:30pm.

The best resource that I have found on AfriGeneas is the Surname Database. By typing in a surname, you can get a listing of all of the people who are also searching for that surname on AfriGeneas. I was able to make contact with a distant cousin who is related to me through my great-great-great-grandfather, Daniel Booker, by searching for Bookers in Alabama on AfriGeneas. What a miracle!

AfriGeneas is free to use, and you can also submit your own information for others to search. It is an excellent resource to help those of us with African ancestry "climb the 1870 'brick wall.'"

Check out AfriGeneas by clicking here.

Monday, November 3, 2008

It IS time for a change...

Over the past two years, I have watched the presidential campaign somewhat closely. Tomorrow it will finally wind down to an end, and the country will know who our next president will be. I have thought much about my great-great-great-grandfathers, John Estill and Daniel Booker, who both waited in line to register to vote in 1866 after they received their freedom from slavery. They did not take for granted this sacred privilege to use their agency, and I have an opportunity to follow their example, 142 years later, by showing up at the polls to vote.

I will not bore you with my views on various political issues, or even announce in whose behalf I will cast my ballot. I will support the president no matter who wins and follow the laws of the land. But I am appalled at the the voter suppression that is rearing its head even to this day, targeting areas with higher percentages of minorities to try to keep them from voting. (Read about one instance here. ) In some areas, people have been making phone calls encouraging people to vote by phone, sending our fliers warning people that they could be arrested if they try to vote with outstanding parking tickets, or that because of the unprecedented number of new voters, they have extended voting to Wednesday, November 5th. These are all attempts to confuse people, and although voters do have a responsibility to educate themselves, many first-time voters may be swayed by this very illegal behavior. It is time for this to stop.

It does not surprise me that there is still so much racism, but it still does hurt.