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Who are your ancestors. Be honest.

Alison Bailey, Bloomington, IL. Yes. I’ve been able to find out who my 3d greatgrandmother is until recently. She was the bastard child of Joseph C. Van Mater, or “Big Joe,” as he was called. The Van Mater family were early settlers in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Big Joe was the largest slave holder north […]

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Must we forget our Confederate ancestors?

Jesse Dukes, Charlottesville, VA. This question was on my mind recently, when I wrote an article for Virginia Quarterly Review about Confederate reenactors at the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg. I don’t actually have any Confederate ancestors I’m aware of, but most of the reenactors do. All of the reenactors I talked to considered slavery to […]

“Hush, Child, they’ll take Grandma away!”

Robin Greeley St. Louis, MO This is what my relatives said to me at a family reunion in the 1950s.They were afraid that if it was known that Grandma was Choctaw, she could be sent to a reservation – something that was done in those days. In Pueblo, Colorado, the hatred and direct discrimination of […]

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Melting-pot Melungeon: Not “Other!” Try “Most.”

Marion Reid Kee Redmond, WA Some of my ancestors went through a lot so that I could be “white” and not have to know about them as African, Native American, Eastern Mediterranean. Others who were considered white may not have been free. Some of my Celtic ancestors were forcibly resettled by the English. Others were […]

You look too foriegn for me.

Danielle Silver Forest Park, OH A white guy I liked told me this. I am white( German, Irish, Penn. Dutch), Hispanic, Native American. I used to get asked where I was from in school. I said, “I’m an American.” My ancestors have been here for generations. My full brother has never been asked where he […]

Griot’s love preserved unspoken unheard truths

Jimmie Jones Washington DC My father spent 30 years preserving the genealogy of our family through three generations. My early Summers were spent recording voices, taking pictures, tracing gravestones and memorizing family trees into three generations. His book and his legacy led me to the plantation where I met ancestors, reclaimed cotton, cried into soil […]

My Ancestors Bones Not For Museum

Sonya Williams Baltimore, MD I grew up in a unique area of North Carolina in what is referred to as a ti-racial community. My Indian family are the Cheroenhaka Nottoway and Meherrin Indians of Southeast, VA & North Eastern, NC. When I went to college, during a lecture in my anthropology class, the professor was […]

My ancestors were Appalachian slave owners.

Cindy Hutchison Russell Guadalajara, Mexico Took a graduate course in circum Atlantic slavery – did my own family research – discovered that my direct ancestors in the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee – were slave owners – as were hundreds of small farm owners and dirt farmers in the 1700’s and 1800’s…

Found my ancestors and grief too.

R.Henry Goins San Francisco, CA I am a genealogist. I have been researching my North Carolina family for about ten years now. I found my great grandfather’s family in some notes held at the North Carolina Archives. The family lived in Belews Creek and Sauratown. Sauratown sounds like sorrow. I found a ledger with the […]

My ancestors passed. Their history: invisible.

Margaret Angela Thomas Chatsworth, GA I’m the descendant of a runaway slave who passed as Latin and was beaten to death by a slavecatcher, other runaways who moved to Indian Territories to pass for Cherokee, and a trafficked Chinese woman. I look Scotch-Irish and have a huge red vascular birthmark. I live with color bigotry […]