After interviewing my mother and father, I learned that the Metoyer owners were Civil Rights Movement pals of my family. Together our families protested several injustices that today are either long forgotten or trying to emerge. Whether lunch counter and retail dress stores’ boycott or marching in favor of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Metoyers and Weads heped to bring positive change in our Midwestern community.
The home cooked story gets better: Ray Metoyer, an award-wining journalist, and I are longtime friends largely based on our same chosen profession. We refer to ourselves as “homies” and we share ‘what we can remember stories that include my family’s treat of buying the best bar-b-cue from his parents’ restaurant. Ray and I also separately landed in the metropolitan Atlanta area. He was the TV anchorman; I was financial journalist for the largest metro newspaper and later, financial weekly paper. As such, Ray and I eptitomize the phrase “small world.”
My challenge to budding or skilled genealogists
Try it: Explore just one aspect of your hometown involving a popular food restaurant or store in your neighborhood. Once you are satisfied with your findings, look up one of the descendants and share your fondest for their families’ establishment. Next, record it. Tell it. Do something to keep the circle unbroken by sharing little known history.
Like me, many researchers rejoice when we locate our ancestors who attended colleges during post-slavery and during Jim Crow. Yet, as much attention should be directed to researching the ties African Americans and Afro Caribbeans have to universities and colleges through enslaved conditions. It may require that enslavers are researched first to link African American ancestors to the slave labor that was lent to building these institutions.
At the University of Georgia in Athens, recent developments led by the faculty and community stakeholders led to the unearthings and reburials of slaves in the cemetery behind its Baldwin Hall.
I’ve always been a sure and confident person who was fortunate to be raised in a family with positive messages from my mother, father, siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and distant relatives. However, we — like most African Americans — have confusing, hidden and proud heritages that are often difficult to fully uncover.
If you or others fall in the categories of mixed heritage, I am encouraging you to keep uncovering your ancestry. One way is through DNA testing and related results. Thankfully, about 10 years ago, I completed my DNA evaluation and discovered that although I have the appearance of a full African American, my mutual families’ backgrounds produced the following:
Summary of DNA results for Ann Lineve Wead Kimbrough, updated 2021
Read every drop of DNA backgrounders
The above image is a just snapshot. There is a whole lot of drilling down to review the estimates provided by the DNA scientists. Like all who engage in DNA testing, my results unfold with enormous information found in tables, linkages, background explanations, photos and important health and social characteristics.
As I expected, the largest gathering of my DNA estimated ancestral roots are found in Africa to include the regions of the Southern Bantu Peoples, Ghana and the Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo, Senegal, Cameroon, Nigeria, Congo and Western Bantu Peoples. The United States ethnicity estimates show that Virginia is the landing place for my ancestors during the slave trade.
“Your ethnicity estimate includes regions based on two different scientific processes: the AncestryDNA reference panel and our Genetic Communities™ technology.” That’s from the Ancestry.com DNA overview of my discovered heritage.
There is so much to learn from one’s DNA. My data is constantly updated as new 3rd, 4th and even more distant relatives are added to tree. Once I receive updates, I spend time tracking whether we are related and if so, how. For instance, one of my so-called 3rd or 4th cousins, did not have direct DNA linkage to our family. Yet, her information was always pulling on our family’s DNA. After several conversations, we figured it was because her son’s father is our family is my family member. I considered our realization a victory because I would not otherwise have known about this young relative.
I have an estimated 767 4th cousins or closer relations. The DNA results are the first major step towards conducting additional research and can serve as a confirmation about whether the individual is related to you. I caution that even if limited or no DNA exists regarding a relation, consider the investigation on the linkage because slaves were often mortgaged and sold to keep their enslavers in business. For instance, in some cases, slaves from neighboring plantations were paired up with another group and sold, thereby breaking up blood families of slaves. Yet, those same individuals may have served as a “family member” in the slave community structure.
Centimorgans in your family tree
Each person who has received her/his DNA has a special number and that places you in the range or numeric grouping of your family member. That numbering is known as centimorgan The chart below supplied by FamilySearch.org, gives the numbering range for individuals to prove whether they are blood relatives.
According to FamilySearch.org: “All the testing companies now provide the total amount of DNA (measured in centimorgans, or cM) shared with each genetic match, information that can be vital for determining the genealogical relationship. A cM is a measurement of the distance between genetic markers on the DNA based on the expected frequency of recombination with each generation. On average, one cM equals one million base pairs, although this can vary.” This is from Family Search.org to explain the importance of cMs or centimorgans in connecting genetic matches.
I am actively researching my family and along with my business partner/first cousin, Mark Owen, we will explore many African American and Afro Caribbean tenealogy family topics with more depth in our upcoming e-book series.
Stay tuned to this blog for more information about our August 1, 2021 debut!
Not even a harrowing bout with COVID-19 or horrific beating by racists in the 1960s could keep this good man down! On his birthday, support Dad’s book debut that honors our collective heritage with encouragement and solutions.
Deep into our genealogy research about ancestors we knew and others we learn more about through our “detective” work, there are lots of opportunities for spiritual understanding and growth.
Seek balance. Forgive what you know such as learning an ancestor was imprisioned or moved away for work and never returned to the community where the researcher lived. Negative remembrances place us in mental and spiritual jails.
Give a pass to the ancestors and be willing to dig deeper to recover all of the facts. Sometimes history got it wrong. In Elaine and Helena, Arkansas — the home of my paternal ancestors — the headlines of the day reported one thing. Uncovering of history revealed something else.
Be willing to pass through those genealogical brick walls. Pass the test and know that life for our ancestors requires putting ourselves in their moments in time.
Enjoy the reseach and love the process. Merge the good past to your great future.
SATURDAY, JUNE 26, 2021I RELEASE THE PAST
(From Atlanta, GA’s Hillside International Truth Center’s “Daily Thoughts from the Hill”
Our past miss-steps are a part of where we are. Life’s challenges are lessons from which we can learn. But when the outcome is not what we expected, consciously or subconsciously, it can shake our belief. So we may tend to play it safe, but see God in it. God is available. God cannot disappear from your life any more than you can disappear from yourself. God is Life and the life of God is in you. Let the past stay in the past and move forward. I do not live in the past; I let the past live there. Divine vision shows me abundance without fear. Nothing controls me, including my past. My imagination shows me how God would have me see my life. I live in the now. Thank you, Imagination, in me, through me, as me, around me, through the Christ within. And so it is. Forgetting those things which are behind, I strive for those things which are before me.Philippians 3:13
Daily Thoughts from the HillCopyright: Hillside International Truth Center, Inc.Bishop Dr. Jack L. Bomar – Executive Bishop Bishop Dr. Barbara L. King – Founder
It’s not his holiday, Douglass said during a speech in Rochester, NY on July 5, 1852 to commemorate the signing of the July 4th document. The former slave turned statesman spoke to approximately 500 abolitionists who paid 12 cents each to hear Douglass as the keynote speaker during the Rochester Ladies Anti-Slavery Society gathering. At the end of his speech, Douglass remarks were endorsed by the group.
Juneteenth or Freedom Day
It was June 19, 1865, when the last enslaved African Americans were told they were free, more than a year (Jan. 1, 1863) after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into federal law. More than 3 million enslaved persons were informed of the news in Texas and reports were that celebrations that were led by prayer, dancing, feasting and fasting.
Known as Juneteenth, many communities choose that day to celebrate freedom from slavery. In 1980, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth a holiday and many states and local governments nationwide followed suit.
Historic Juneteenth celebrations in downtown Punta Gorda, Florida in 1910. Unknown source for photograph
In Punta Gorda, Florida, the traditional Juneteenth celebration actually takes place on May 20, 2021. This year, the quaint south Florida city did not hold a celebration due to the health pandemic, yet it captured various history clips through its museum and a rousing video that includes great information in other Florida communities.
There are hundreds of Juneteeth celebrations across the nation and outside of its borders. Here’s a brief listing of Juneteenth events in the U.S. during June 2021, beginning with celebrations in this blogger’s hometown, Omaha, Nebraska:
For more about Juneteenth celebtaions near and far, consult local newspapers, historical societies, libraries, museums, the federal government’s sites and locations such as the Park Service and National Archives.
St. Louis, Mo. TV Newsman Damon Arnold was fortunate to find fantastic info about his ancestor.
I am proud of Damon locating a mentally and physically strong former slave who became a Civil War vetetan. His fighting did not end there. Damon’s great-great-great grandfather also fought gallantly to receive his pension.
Read on and learn more. Damon is just at the tip of major findings. You, too, can find great family heirlooms in those old records.
When I was 10 or 11 years old, I camped in the Nebraska wilderness with my fellow campers and chaperones. The highlight of my experence was riding high atop my favorite horse along rugged and somewhat dangerous trails in the Black Hills National Park in South Dakota. I’ve since learned that my childhood suspicions were correct: The trails are so dangerous that it has long been fenced off to protect public use.
Like the fence around today’s Black Hills, the Buffalo Soldiers were the human hedge around our nation’s most precious national park lands.
Buffalo Soldiers protecting the nation’s most precious park lands. Courtesy, U.S. National Park Service.
I remember dreaming of becoming a park ranger. Perhaps my dreams were filtered from our African American ancestors who were among the nation’s and the world’s first park rangers in the early 1900s. Their origins as park rangers are traced to 1899, 1903 and 1904 in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.
Why were they called Buffalo Soliders?
Based on research, it is believed that Native Americans provided the nickname for African American soldiers based on the eyesight similarities of our ancestor soliders’ wooly hair and dark appearance to that of the buffaloes that roamed the parks. It is likely the soldiers were dubbed “Buffalo” beginning in 1866 with the 9th and 10th All-Black Calvary regiments.
Our family ancestors from Hope, Arkansas were members of the 9th Calvary of Buffalo Soliders based in New Orleans and formed in 1866. We are researching whether our lineage is traced to the 25th all-Black Infantry that also fought together against the Confederate Army.
Today’s Park Service looking for Black “Soldiers” to share African American history
Today’s Park Service is woefully underrepresented with African American park rangers and interpeters. In 2019 and earlier, the Park Service reports that 80 percent of its workforce are non-African American.
There’s a rich and storied history involving African Americans and magestic park lands in the United States. Col. Charles Young, the third Black graduate of West Point University was the first African American superintendent of a national park when he accepted the assignment at Sequoia National Park in the summer of 1903. Much of his work has gone unrecognized, yet Young is credited with the paved roads in the park, new bridges that are still in use today and the basic infrastructure of the trails.
The inscription by Col. Young reads: “Yours for Race and Country, Charles Young. 22 Feby., 1919.” Photo courtesy of Library of Congress
Under his leadership, he created an infrastructure of trails, paved roads, and bridges, some of which are still in use today. He also was friend of W.E.B. DuBois. The two met while teaching at Wilberforce University in Ohio, according to the researcher and writer Nineka M. Okona in her June 2020 article in Conde Nast Traveler.
She also interviewed a modern-day Park Ranger, Shelton Johnson, who was based on Yosemite. He has dedicated his work to preserving African American history and sharing it when he can. The post-COVID opening of the parks will allow Johnson and others to deliver the stories of the stewardship and pride that Black soliders had when they served as park rangers more than a century ago.
Seventeen National Parks bear African American History