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#2 Peek: Out of Sight e-book for beginning Black Genealogists

During your early discoveries of family ancestry, it is likely that you will find words, phrases, photographs and other documents that may trigger emotions and reactions that you may have long ago forgiven.

PART I: Out of Our Gloomy Past

Slavery’s Impact Upon Black Genealogical Research

  Slavery’s far-reaching effect upon the lives of African Americans is the single-most reason why it is challenging to easily research involving our Black ancestors. Records of names, places of origin, accurate ages and other important data were not kept for slaves or if kept, are likely long ago destroyed or lost. In rare instances, some of the basic passenger information was retained by the Atlantic Ocean ship’s captain or slave holders. In the records born from slave holders, it is likely that the surnames are the same as the persons who took possession of our ancestors.

The estimates vary on when the first slaves were shipped across the Atlantic to the North and South American soil. Some reports suggest that the first slaves arrived on U.S. shores somewhere between 1525 and 1619. It is well documented that in 1619, slaves were unloaded from ships at Port Comfort, VA., near Jamestown. Between 1619 and 1866, approximately 13 million Africans were packed into ships headed for the “New World.” Of that, an estimated two million slaves perished by disease, suicides and other means, making their graves the Atlantic Ocean. That left an approximate 10.7 million Africans who survived the brutal slave ships’ conditions across the Atlantic Ocean. It is estimated 388,000 black ancestors arrived along North American shores through 1866, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (edited by Profs. David Eltis and David Richardson). The remainder of the precious “cargo” was delivered to South American and Caribbean countries.

Sometimes in the pursuit of African American ancestors, the inquiries or checklists do not take into consideration that not U.S. residents arrived on these shores with passenger lists to identify them. One case in point is found in a test that I took to a complete a genealogy course. I missed the correct answer on one question because I responded based on my African American family history.   The question on the examination was: “Which immigration records are the best sources for determining if someone’s ancestor arrived in the United States from an international country. The instructor’s answer was “Passenger lists.”  The answer choices did not include one for my ancestors. This is an example of the importance of remaining flexible and open to the workarounds and delays in retrieving records related to your family’s ancestors.

 When searching for ancestors not all potential information is included in general inquiries. Many records unique to Black, Native Americans, Afro-Caribbean ancestors are not integrated into traditional family ancestry searches. For instance, “Slave Schedules” is not included in an ancestry site query for a relative. Therefore, it is important to review all categories of detailed listings such as the Sumter County, Alabama, U.S., Circuit Court Files, 1840-1950 and Americus times-recorder NEW.  It is advisable to rely on more than one on-line genealogy site to expand the ancestral search and build family trees.

Pre- and Post-Civil War Searches

The important benchmarks that are integral to effectively and efficiently researching African American ancestry are divided in two major categories:

  1. Slave families before the Civil War.
  2. Black and African American families beginning with the 1870 Census.

Prior to the Civil War, information and data about African American ancestors is sparse and vastly different than that of others. Slaves’ surnames were often the same as their owners and not of their African-given names.  In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau developed separate listings known as “Slave Schedules” in 1850 and 1860. While not providing the names of slaves, the Slave Schedules provide the owners’ names. In many cases, the identifiers for slaves included the ages, sex and varying notations such as “deaf …dumb.”

However, after the war and beginning with the 1870 Census, the official recordkeeping involving Blacks was similar to that of U.S. Whites and immigrants. While some former slaves maintained the slave owners’ surnames given to them, others changed their last names. That is why the family Bible is so important as it was a historical recorder of the important events in the lives of freed slaves. The family Bible also served as an official legal document in the courthouse where African Americans sought official birth records. Usually, the births of our family members occurred with the help of midwives. The midwives were also principally responsible for reporting births to the respective county court houses.

Making the most of “Brick walls”

Between 1920 and 1930, my Great-Grandmother Carrie changed the spelling of our surname to “Wead” and my grandfather followed her lead when applied for his social security card in 1936.  My father, Rodney Wead, never learned why the spelling change in our surname. The Census Bureau and other government sources frequently contain errors in ages, relationships to the heads of households, racial classification, employment, literacy, name spellings, real estate and other categories involving the documentation of African American families. This e-book will offer recommendations on how to confirm the demographic data and thereby move around the “brick wall” effects. “The wall” or “the brick wall” is a phrase often used in genealogy to describe what it feels like when after several hours or even years of sorting through delicate historical information, the researcher is not able to breakthrough with accurate information about their ancestor.

You do not have to get used to the wall’s reality. Approach your research by thinking new thoughts and seek opportunities in the historical challenges to keep walls in our ways.  Combine the “old school” with new ways. See value in the centuries ago inscribed family Bibles while trusting the technology to locate grave markers and passports of your ancestors. Invest your time and resources into learning more about your ancestors for personal, professional, mental and physical health benefits. It will be worth it.

Mental, Psychological, Spiritual Walls

“Why can’t I know my birthday?” asked Frederick Douglass, born a slave around 1817.  Think about that statement by the great statesman, Douglass. It was rare for slaves and any indentured black servants to know the details of their lives. Think about how difficult it may be for you to learn the same about your ancestors.

There are many more terms or single words that are triggers for deep-seeded and some surface matters that my cousin and I had not fully resolved. The same may be true for others who embark on the black genealogy path.  For some of the topics and situations we encountered during our research, Mark and I had to take a break after discovering something that was a breakthrough while also being a burden to our souls. We exhaled whenever those temporary “moments” of anxiety and questions flooded our thoughts and words such as the time we dealt with the meaning of word “property” to slave holders and traders. For instance, the reality that slaves were considered “property” by their owners meant that being bought and sold in exchange for land, cash, or another material matter, remains disheartening. It meant that slave families were ripped apart and the scars and outward behaviors would likely be passed through the generations.

Each time, we hit those bumps in the road, Mark and I successfully emerged from our unplanned research breaks with fresh outlooks and words of encouragement about our brave and smart ancestors. After all, if our ancestors had not endured the pain, suffering and the glorious moments, none of us would be on this earth. We are sharing our tribulations to help others who are deeply connected to their pasts to advance their present and future journeys.

 During your early discoveries of family ancestry, it is likely that you will find words, phrases, photographs and other documents that may trigger emotions and reactions that you may have long ago forgiven. For Mark and me, our triggers included the following words, phrases and digits:

During your early discoveries of family ancestry, it is likely that you will find words, phrases, photographs and other documents that may trigger emotions and reactions that you may have long ago forgiven. For Mark and me, our triggers included the following words, phrases and digits:

1525                                                                Land deeds                                         Slave owners

1619                                                                Lynching                                             Slave schedules

1919                                                                Middle Passage                                   Slavery                       

Branding                                                         Missing names of slaves                     Status of black women           

‘Death over foreign servitude’                        Mutilation                                           Whippings      

Fugitive                                                           Property                                 

“Gator Babies”                                                Probated wills                                    

Imprisonment                                                  “Slave for life”                                   

Illustration of slaves in chains, from the August 1838 edition of the American Antislavery Alamanac.

Illustration of slaves in chains. From Southern, N., American Antislavery Almanac (August 1838). Boston: Isaac Knapp, Publisher. https://archive.org/details/americanantislav1838chil/page/20/mode/2up

Slaves under the overseer's whip, illustration from the American Antislavery Almananc, 1838.

Illustration of slaves under the overseer’s whip. From Southern, N., American Antislavery Almanac (August 1838). Boston: Isaac Knapp, Publisher. https://archive.org/details/americanantislav1838chil/page/20/mode/2up

With many more expressions and reminders of our ‘gloomy past,’ Mark and I continued our path as overcomers. We focus on the ‘the white gleam of our bright star is cast,’ as penned by James Weldon Johnson in the poem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” It was written during a time when Jim Crow replaced slavery. His brother, John Rosamond Johnson, composed the song that is sung today and affectionately known as the “National Negro Anthem.”  The words to this anthem are a go-to song of comfort, faith and hope for the future. ­

Lift Every Voice and Sing

James Weldon Johnson – 1871-1938

Lift every voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast’ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered.
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

From Saint Peter Relates an Incident by James Weldon Johnson. Copyright © 1917, 1921, 1935 James Weldon Johnson, renewed 1963 by Grace Nail Johnson.

Let’s get started.


Liggins Legacy-building in ‘this life’

Omaha, Nebraska’s Woods-Hughes-Liggins family is very special to the Owen-Wead family.

My Dad, Dr. Rodney S. Wead, https://northomahahistory.com/2019/12/11/a-biography-of-rodney-wead/considers Media Maven Cathy Hughes https://www.omahamagazine.com/2018/11/21/301576/cathy-hughes his “little sis.”

Dad and Cathy met as youthful residents in the Logan Fontenelle Housing Development “The ‘jects” https://northomahahistory.com/2015/08/20/a-history-of-the-logan-fontenelle-housing-projects/. Cathy’s Dad, William Alfred Woods, attended Creighton University and became the first African American to earn an accounting degree at the Omaha institution. https://leoadambiga.com/2010/04/29/His family moved out of Logan Fontenelle for a better life for his children (4th child is Cathy), wife, Helen Jones Woods, world-renowned founder and glass ceiling breaker of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&ei=UTF-8&p=Helen+Jones+Woods&type=E211US1494G0#id=2&vid=d01749fc55514eb606b68e2a725136ec&action=click.

It is no surprise that the legacy of the Woods-Liggins-Hughes lives on. Spend 8 minutes watching this exciting video!


Alfred Liggins, CEO, TV/RadioONE,https://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/alfred-liggins-iii announced a significant project to benefit Richmond, Virginia and beyond.

The celebration of our ancestor’s history begins right now with visionary folk. I can see and feel the future in African American economic, ecological, social, educational, health and wellness, et al.

Congrats to the principal visionary of this empire, Cathy Hughes!

She remains our Omaha, Nebraska native powerhouse!


Breaking through the Ice: First Black Ice Figure Skater could not compete during tragic Jim Crow era

Honored now posthumously by Ice Skating organizations, young black women

Mabel Fairbanks

Mabel Fairbanks was born in Jacksonville, Florida in the early 1920s. Life there was subjugated by abject poverty, bigotry, and Jim Crow laws. In the early 1930s, there was a great migration north in which Fairbanks’ brothers and sisters moved to New York City. She herself followed along. There, at an early age, she was drawn to the sport of figure skating. During the cold winters of the city, she would curiously watch from afar the twirling and gliding skaters in Central Park. But it was after seeing Sonja Henie’s movie “One In A Million” that she was determined to learn to skate. She took herself to the north end of Harlem with a pair of used, oversize skates, and on small frozen ponds and rivulets, she started to teach herself to skate. In her continued desire to practice her skills on ice, she ventured out into the city to find a proper ice rink facility. Time after time she was denied entrance to skate at many of the city’s coveted rinks because of her color, but she did not let that deter her. The manager of the Gay Blades Ice Rink on West 52nd St. noted her persistence and finally let her in, only to request that she could only skate the last 30 minutes of the evening session. As a result, with her enthusiasm and dazzling spirit she caught the eye of the legendary 9 time U.S. Ladies Champion, Maribel Vinson Owen, who helped refine Fairbanks’ skating technique with tips and pointers. Fairbanks was finally shattering the race barrier in the city. Because she was not allowed to compete due to race and bigotry of the skating community in the city, Owen encouraged her to create her own shows and events. Taking that suggestion to heart, she soon was producing her own shows at the Gay Blades Ice Rink after their closing hours, as well shows in the Supper Clubs, the Apollo Theatre, and other social venues in and around Harlem. In the late 40s Fairbanks left the east coast for California. She quickly gained fame and respect first becoming the coach of the children of Hollywood’s elite — Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Ozzie and Harriet’s Ricky Nelson, and Otto Preminger. She made guest appearances on the popular KTLA TV show “Frosty Frolics.” But eventually her deep desire was to become the coach of young competitive skaters of all races with her primary focus in helping nurture and support African American figure skaters. The list of some of those talented students includes: Atoy Wilson, Richard Ewell and Michelle McCladdie, Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, Bobby Beauchamp, Leslie Robinson, and many others. Along with inspiring, mentoring, and knowing champions — Peggy Fleming, Scott Hamilton, Kristi Yamaguchi, Rudy Galindo and Debi Thomas — her coaching style helped her students to become not only great champions but also upstanding individuals. Even though she herself never stood on a podium as a champion, she took great pride and satisfaction in her students who did. And with that, her vision and goals were accomplished and fulfilled. Fairbanks coached until she was 79 years young. In 1997, Fairbanks was the first African American to be inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. In October of 2001 she was posthumously inducted into the Women’s Sports Foundation Hall of Fame. Mabel Fairbanks quietly passed in Sept of 2001 in Burbank, California, leaving a bright legacy as a trailblazer and the Grand Dame of African American figure skaters.

Celebrate the life and accomplishments of Mabel Fairbanks at the 2021 Champions in Life Virtual Benefit Gala!


Driven CEO: Aicha Evans

I just enjoyed a great interview — @BlombergTV — with Aicha Evans regarding the future of driverless cars and technology in relation to gender and racial diversity as benefits to all corporations. Here’s the Black Enterprise story:

Amazon just acquired Zoox, a self-driving startup company, run by Black female CEO Aicha Evans, for $1.2 Billion, Black Enterprise reports.

Zoox is the maker of self-driving vehicles built for purpose that also happen to be eco-friendly. Since 2014, the company has been testing these autonomous vehicles in Las Vegas and San Francisco, with most referring to them as a “robotaxi” service. For the last two years , Evans has been at the helm, working as CEO to help the company expand. Now, Amazon, a longstanding investor in various self-driving startups, has acquired the company for over $1 billion. 

“This acquisition solidifies Zoox’s impact on the autonomous driving industry. We have made great strides with our purpose-built approach to safe, autonomous mobility, and our exceptionally talented team working every day to realize that vision. We now have an even greater opportunity to realize a fully autonomous future,” Evans said. 

The online retail giant plans to use the technology to tackle last-mile deliveries, officially automating ground delivery and revolutionizing the industry. Chief Safety Innovation Officer at Zoox, Mark Rosekind, spoke about the possibilities of the partnership, saying, “We now have an even greater opportunity to realize a fully autonomous future. We’re going to start seeing [in] three to five years where people start actually deploying in cities, but it’s going to be 20 to 30 years before you start seeing this all over the place.” https://7bc6990ae9ff633fcc00d205131dd7af.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Evans will help spearhead the initiative, continuing to lead in her current role as CEO. 

Congratulations Aicha!

Photo Courtesy of Aicha Evans/Global News Wire



“Power in Singing Your Song”

Bishop Jack L. Bomar’s Bible Study Blog Sunday, February 28, 2021

Bishop Jack L. Bomar on singing a song unto God: “It maintains your relationship.”

Atlanta, Georgia USA – “Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring.
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty.
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us;
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun;
Let us march on till victory is won.” https://blackthen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/weldon….jpg

When the original words of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing” was penned by James Weldon Johnson in 1899, it was a poem in honor of President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. President Lincoln’s memorial birthday on Feb. 12, 1900 was marked by 500 black children at a segregated Florida school reciting the words by Johnson, a poet, writer, civil rights activist and educator. Shortly after that historic date, Johnson’s brother, J. Rosamond Johnson, wrote the lyrics to the words and the song that is widely known as the “Negro National Anthem.”

Bishop Jack recalled how the song’s author said that he “made no efforts” to hold back the tears that the words and music stirred inside of him. The song also known as the Negro National Anthem, was described as one where “the song wrote itself.”

Later Career: James Weldon Johnson · Yale University Library Online  Exhibitions

James Weldon Johnson, right; John Rosamond Johnson, at the piano, circa 1937 https://onlineexhibits.library.yale.edu/s/lift-every-voice/media/7538

Today, U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (D-South Carolina) is seeking Congressional approval for “Lift Every Voice and Sing” to become the nation’s hymn to help unite humanity. https://news.yahoo.com/clyburn-explains-push-lift-every-200810051.html

“There is a lot of power in the message,” said Bishop Jack, adding that the Johnson brothers’ song and lyrics are a perfect example of songs that reach our “soul level.”

Drawing from the Bible scripture Acts 16:20 – 26, Bishop Jack recalled how Paul and Silas were brought before the town’s magistrate judges and accused of falsehoods after they were sharing the truth of God’s word and helping people. They were beaten and thrown into the basement of the prison with their legs cuffed to the bars. About midnight, they were praying and singing hymns unto God. Their singing was heard throughout the prison and their song praises unto God were interrupted by a violent earthquake that caused the doors to fly open. All chains on prisoners were loosed and the prisioners went free.

For the “midnight hours” in everyone’s lives, remember Paul and Silas and sing songs of faith and praise until God, extoled Bishop Jack.

Bishop Jack spoke of his special songs. He also asked the congregation in the cyber sanctuary of Hillside International Truth Center they too had spiritual songs that “touch the soul … calms the fears and anchors” them.

He spoke of those songs sung during the times folk “go through the go through.” Bishop reminded listeners and viewers that the Hillside Praize Team sings powerful songs of praise and joy to uplift, remind and encourage congregants.

What is one of Bishop Jack’s favorite songs of Zion? The Bishop and musician sang his answer a capella:


Bishop Jack spoke of three (3) impacts of songs upon hearts and souls:

  1. Singing your song has the power to soothe the soul. Singing soothes the nervous system.
  2. Singing your song stirs up the spirit. Sing in the morning. Sing because you’re happy, sing because you’re free.
  3. Singing your song sets you free.

And so it is.

Bishop’s Bible Study: Sharing your Song

  1. Paul and Silas sang songs of truth that set them free. What songs would you sing if you were like them during those “go through” times as described by Bishop Jack? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.
  2. Do you have a favorite song that has been performed by the Hillside Praize Team? __________________________________________.
  3. Do you have words of praise and gratitude about any particular victory? Would you turn those words into your heart song by penning a few lines below? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.
  4. How does “Lift Every Voice and Sing” resonate with you? What is your favorite phrase, stanza, or single words? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.
  5. In honor of Black History Month, which Black inventors are named by Bishop Jack in his sermon? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.
  6. Bishop Jack offered a descriptive of an experience he had while in Australia. Why do the Australian Aborigines remind their young people of their history during deliberate “walkabouts” throughout key regions in their country? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.

Wade in the water … god’s gonna trouble the water

Walk with me … while I;m on this pilgrim journey


Exclusive to Sankofa Family Genealogy Workshop participants and clients

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com
e-book available exclusively to workshop participants and clients. Book design by Veverly Byrd-Davis


An Introduction to Unearthing Your African American and Afro-Caribbean Genealogy


 Dr. Ann Lineve Wead


Mark Stephen Owen, MS


“Be a Tree” … Demonstrate Hope, Strength, Prosperity

Iyanla Vanzant is an American inspirational speaker, lawyer, New Thought spiritual teacher, author, life coach and television personality.

The cure for ills in human nature is found in nature, says a top inspirational analyst and New Thought spiritual teacher. Rev. Dr. Vanzant also lends her time and talents to inspire Atlanta’s Hillside International Truth Center’s members and friends each month during the 2nd Sunday morning worship inspiration.

“Be a tree and know that your roots have been divinely planted and deeply anchored,” Rev. Dr. Iyanla Vanzant told the listeners and viewers via the virtual platform of “Hillside International Truth Center https://hillsideinternational.org/.

In her iconic style of blending life’s metaphors inside of truth-telling, Rev. Dr. Vanzant linked cures for the pandemic’s disruptions to the perennial plant, the tree. She cast a spotlight on the tree, which represents “powerful symbols of growth and resurrection.

There are more than 60,000 different species of trees, Rev. Dr. Vanzant correlated the variety of trees to the cultural differences around the world. Representing life, wisdom, power and prosperity, trees are considered nature’s “Holy observers” by philosophers in certain cultures. She

She “dared” her viewers to adopt the characteristics of a tree, which are found in its grand composition listed as:

  • Root
  • Trunk
  • Leaves
  • Fruit

By coming “alive season after season,” Rev. Dr. Vanzant speaks to the tree as the backbone of humankind. That is, the tree as the example to men, women and children, demonstrates how to withstand the cold winds of winter and the tenacity to ‘hang in there’ to welcome the spring. Spring is where optimism blooms.

As an avid reader, listener, learner and doer of Rev. Dr. Vanzant’s realistic and dramatic depictions, she is known for speaking so deep that it takes more than a moment to catch up to what she is telling us. In this spirit, I offer my “Tree table” to explain her powerful, divinely metaphoric message:

When Rev. Dr. Says … Rev. Dr. Translated …
Peace LambsThe Book of Psalm (text from 1:1-2)
Be a TreePowerful symbols of growth and resurrection. Help reduce negative climate change.
Be a TreeLife, wisdom, life, prosperity. Embody strength. Do not wilt and wither every time a “bird” leaves one’s branches.
RootWomen and men with deep roots who have been through some things and still they meditate on the Word. They know that God has a plan and purpose that shall be revealed in due season.
TrunkLife is much bigger than our present moment.
LeavesLook up, reach up … beyond our human limitation. Move toward the light.
FruitProduce and think long-term. Our lives much produce meaningful fruit. We are known by the fruit we produce. We must produce inward and outward fruit. They remember if you were kind, generous, had an encouraging word and forgiveness when necessary.
SoilEnriched by what we go through.
A Tree Planted by the Water … … Shall not be moved.

Rev. Dr. Vanzant related with every virtual listener and viewer as being a part of coronavirus pandemic global environment. Her production studio shut down on Feb. 26, 2020 and everyone — including her — was sent home. Since acknowledged the upheaval caused in many lives due in economic, social and physical areas. To that, Rev. Dr. Vanzant says the pandemic highlights the importance of having good roots laid down by individuals.

In her special way, Rev. Dr. Vanzant also expanded the meaning of the words in the Book of Psalm or what she calls the Book of “Peace Lambs” in Chapter 1, Verses 2-3 :

What is read … What it means …
DelightDerive great pleasure and joy
LordConsciousness of dominion, “I am”
ItPresence of God within
ProsperFlourish physically

Stop holding onto things that hold you down. dim your light and confuse you.

From Rev. Dr. Vanzant to the Hillside International Truth Center family and others joining the exclusive virtual service: “Happy Love Day to You.”

Be a tree.



Navigating COVID-19 in the Blind

Photo taken by me shortly after my son John’s eyesight was lost forever at age 8. That was 26 years ago.

“It is not just school, it’s everything like hanging out with other blind people,” said John Kimbrough, who described the isolation he feels during the current health pandemic.

For a blind and partially deaf graduate school students, COVID-19 has been especially been challenging for John and others with special abilities. John is my adult son and I often check on him. .

Like most of us, John said the isolation is challenging. Yet, John is fortunate because he lives with his Dad, Wendell, in southern Illinois while completing his Master’s degree in Education. John’s career goal is to become a teacher to visually impaired students. He hopes to return to the campus where he was educated in high school, the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine, FL.

As for the coronavirus pandemic’s social distancing and school closures parameters, John said the virtual learning has made him feel more isolated than perhaps his counterparts with sight. Also, when he is “out and about”and abiding by the Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 guidelines, he feels a little better. Still, he says that it hard to navigate in once familiar spaces.

“It is what it is. Not much interaction going on. Trying to figure out ways to counter the lack of human interaction at school,” said John.

John is not alone.

Tens of thousands of visually impaired persons are finding special challenges navigating during this time. Individuals who used to offer help to visually impaired persons now shy away from them due to COVID-19. contagion risks. There are several other troubling trends that negatively impact visually impaired persons.

Photo by Eternal Happiness on Pexels.com

John, also a candidate for a kidney transplant, is in line for a COVID-19 vaccine. He is hopeful that the soon becomes an afterthought. For now, however, family members and friends, check on John to keep him engaged. He also relies on audio books and he listens to videos such as “The Danger of a Single Story.”


John says the video as told by Novelist Chimamanda Adichiet, is particularly useful to him during the pandemic period since it speaks to seeing the world through one lens without considering the plight and stereotyping of others who are marginalized.

John is fortunate. He is enrolled in a university program where “this semester felt more normal for me than last semester.” He’s focusing on his two graduate courses, “Classroom Management” and “Measurement of Learning.” Two research papers are due this semester in one of his courses.

John said thankfully, he learned specialized coping skills while he was one of handful of students nationwide selected for a leadership program at the New York-based Helen Keller International program. He was paired with a completely deaf student and the exercise as to find a way to move forward. John said it taught trust among them. John realized that he needed the person’s sight to move forward and the individual needed someone to accurately hear the instructions.

During that time, John and his group toured “Ground Zero” at the former World Trade Center 9/11 site . It was about a year after the 2001 disaster involving international violence against the United States.

John said he tempers his feeling of isolation against what he “sensed” at the 9/11 crash site. He said that he could almost hear the screams and feel the fear that the victims likely felt. He is a victim of COVID-19, yet John said it is nothing when compared to what happened on Sept.11, 2001.


Guided by the blind: Butler University will soon debut a campus guide app to aid visually impaired students

Although my son did not attend Butler, the university is an example of what a just released study by Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. on higher education.

Panos Linos, Butler University professor of computer science and software engineering, and one of the student developers. Linos started developing GuideDawg 1.0 in 2015, an app to guide Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired students around their building. Students at ISBVI and other campuses usually have to be accompanied by someone to navigate campus until they memorize their route. (Butler University)

As a Mom of a blind son who attended a few colleges/universities until he found the perfect fit, the Indiana School for the Blind and now Butler University app resource is appreciated. With a $19K seed grant, Butler University students who are visually impaired, will have an app to help guide them around campus. This is a novel idea that should be duplicated throughout the world’s university and college campuses.

Although my son did not attend Butler, the university is an example of what a just released study by Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. on higher education. The leading credit rating and risk analysis firm also upgraded the higher education sector from negative to stable over the next year to 18 months, based on the large, “comprehensive universities” strong financial performance from endowments, gifts and related non-tuition dependent income.

From Moody’s (Dec. 10, 2019):
“Over the longer term, social risks will continue to transform the US higher education sector, with demographic changes presenting both challenges and opportunities. While traditional-age enrollment may decline, expanding online programs and growing workforce needs will provide new types of learners with access to higher education. Governance will remain a key differentiator among higher education institutions, Moody’s says. Those that are able to identify their strengths and weaknesses and take appropriate action where necessary will fare better than those that remain reactive.”

New types of learners and non-traditional students will serve as the largest group of college and university students. Take heed, university and college administrators, faculty, alumni, students and parents. There has long been a hashtag for individuals to #staywoke. This same hashtag is relevant for university and college administrations. I say 🔗 the dots. Connect the dots!

After the 1.0 version of the app was developed in 2015, Panos Linos, Butler University professor of computer science and software engineering, and a team of students are developing second version o…THEBUTLERCOLLEGIAN.COMProfessors, students develop GuideDawg 2.0: a mobile app designed to help blind or visually impaired students 


By “doing the right thing” and ‘trusting no one’ learn if graduate school is right for you: Four, sure-fire ways to find out

m delighted to report that I followed Dr. James’ sound advice: A little more than one year after she directed me to this unknown territory, I graduated from the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. Part of my decision to attend Medill was based on the sage advice of my classmate, Spike Lee, who experienced a similar conversation with Dr. James just a year ahead of me. Spike simply said, “Do what she (Dr. James) said. It is easier that way.” I easily recall what Spike said since it was straight-forward and impactful. Do what she said. It is easier that way.

When I was a student nearing the end of my matriculation at small, private and United Methodist Church-based school in Atlanta, Ga., my department chair, Dr. Gloria James, strongly recommended that attend graduate school.

My response: No way.

I financed my undergraduate education at the private institution of Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) with an annually renewable Reader’s Digest essay scholarship, grants, cash and limited student loans. I didn’t want to take on any more debt. Period. Also, my ego was calling most of the shots in 20-year-old mind. I was anxious to begin my career and thereby make my mark upon this world. Yet, my consistent pattern of listening to and following the advice of folk much wiser than me, overruled my lesser reasoning. On top of it all, I received a job offer from the Atlanta Journal/Constitution to serve as a city beat reporter.

Wised up

The thumbnail outcome of my choices is that graduate education has paid off in many ways for me, including serving as the first female dean of journalism school, serving as the highest-ranking female local government administrator in Georgia, multi-media and award-winning financial journalist, and a myriad of other career and personal highlights. My salaries have typically remained higher than my peers in the industry.

Tip #1: Weigh investment of graduate $ investment v. other factors

As the parent of adult children who matriculated through college and graduate school, I am well aware of the cost-benefit ratio when considering graduate schools. While there are several articles, government studies and other research available to help students and their parents determine if graduate is worth it based on costs alone, I found this document to prove the most useful.

I am upfront in my recognition of the costs factors of graduate education. Yet, I advocate for graduate degrees based on the lifetime benefits of the investment.

Tip #2: Spike Lee told me to ‘do the right thing’

I am delighted to report that I followed Dr. James’ sound advice: A little more than one year after she directed me to this unknown territory, I graduated from the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. Part of my decision to attend Medill was based on the sage advice of my classmate, Spike Lee, who experienced a similar conversation with Dr. James just a year ahead of me. Spike simply said, “Do what she (Dr. James) said. It is easier that way.” I easily recall what Spike said since it was straight-forward and impactful. Do what she said. It is easier that way.

Spike, a graduate of Morehouse College and New York University, and me, a graduate of Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) and Northwestern University, shared the same undergraduate communications majors’ experiences. At that time, Clark was the home of the mass communications students in the Atlanta University Center. The AUC is the nation’s largest consortium of historically black colleges and universities in the United States. Spike and I also shared a love of producing short, student films and videos and were among the approximate ten students who founded the AUC Newsreel under the watchful leadership of our favorite film professor, Dr. Herbert Eichelberger. The youtube feature about the AUC Newsreel is contained within the tribute by another founder, George Folkes.

Youtube image courtesy of Gentle George Folkes, “A Salute to Dr. E” Dec. 2, 2013

Shifting into high gear: Graduate education

Although Spike and I today appear ‘oh-so-smart’ by graduating from our respective top graduate schools, I moved ahead while often wondering why Dr. James’ recommendation was a better a better option than my-grand and totally uninformed plan to pursue an immediate career in journalism?

Here’s my remarks as a “thought leader” who was asked to share my thoughts about graduate school for communications majors. It was recorded by the National Association of Broadcasters Educational Foundation during the largest annual confab of the broadcast industry.

Since I graduated from Medill nearly 40 years ago, it is helpful to get an update on what the complex media industry has in store for today’s and recent grads of communication schools. Here’s a podcast with Gen Z views as captured during a November 2019 broadcast industry meeting in Texas: https://education.nab.org/nab/courses/14945.

Tip #3: Attending graduate schools based on its prestige?

The short answer is yes and no to whether one should attend a graduate school based on its prominence and views in the marketplace.

Tip #4: Determine if the investment will pay off

It’s safe to reveal that the cost of attaining my degree from Northwestern University some 40 years ago is approximately $30,000 less than what it would cost today. Although inflation and the CPI show marked increases in the financing of a graduate education, here are my recommendations. Yet, today, lots of the major universities have the means to finance one’s education in full or in part.

  • Consider whether your undergrad degree will “hold up” in the present marketplace. If not, consider graduate education or beneficial certificate programs.
  • Plan ahead. Begin to research the graduate school scholarships and grants of which there are plenty. Yet, it requires skilled research skills and networking to achieve desired educational goals.
  • Consider graduate schools that offer tuition assistance and/or those institutions willing to pay the full cost — tuition, fees, housing.
  • Consider working in a higher-than-average job while matriculating in graduate school.
  • Be selective in your graduate degree choice. Often, students in communications will inform me that they wish to attain a MBA degree. I hold a DBA and still I ask whether they wish to gain a master’s degree or a MBA? Their answers illustrate a bigger issue of students not necessarily researching the degree to assist in bright careers.

It is important to reiterate that graduate education is not for everyone. Yet, in one of my typical examples to undergraduate students who wish to specialize in digital media areas such as sports journalism, seek out graduate programs that can advance you into their desired positions.

“Trust no one”

Those words often uttered in the successful “Game of Thrones” HBO series were first crafted by my fellow alum of undergraduate and graduate degrees. That’s right, George R. R. Martin is a dual degree recipient of degrees from Northwestern University. The interpretation of the phrase — “trust no one” — was often uttered among journalism students inside of Fisk Hall. Fisk Hall is the home building of the Medill School in Evanston, Ill. It’s interpretation meant to always complete research on subjects before acting on it.

Photo by Gerd Altmann on Pexels.com

Ann Wead Kimbrough, DBA is a thought leader, professional journalist, university professor, former government senior official, blogger and author.
She teaches students how to professionally blog, develop podcasts, write with clarity and context and manage large, live events. Ann earned a Doctor of Business Administration degree, International Business, Argosy University; a MS degree specializing in financial journalism, NU Medill School of Journalism; and a BA degree from Clark Atlanta University. website: annweadkimbrough.com; Twitter: @ConnectMom


Pay to play: Cost of kids’ extracurricular sports

Everyone wins in the $15 billion youth sports economy.

Two-sport “star,” my grandson, Kingston, shooting a basketball during a recent game.
Nine-year-old Kingston on first base during recent game.

Parents are shelling out billions of dollars annually for their kids to play sports. In this “pay to play” society, the U.S. government and private organizations find that the youth sports industry is estimated to be a $15 billion industry.

During a recent @walbtv show, The Breakdown, I provided financial insight on costs associated with children’s sports and also briefly discussed the economic benefits of that community’s homecoming celebrations.


Baseball $659.96
Basketball $426.78
Bicycling $1,011.61
Cross country $420.86
Field hockey $2,124.62
Flag football $268.46
Tackle football $484.57
Golf $925.38
Gymnastics $1,580.28
Ice hockey $2,582.74
Lacrosse $1,289.22
Martial arts $776.51
Skateboarding $380.02
Skiing/Snowboarding $2,248.84
Soccer $536.90
Softball $612.83
Swimming $786.03
Tennis $1,170.09
Track & field $191.34
Volleyball $595.49
Wrestling $476.45
Other sports $1,233.30
Source: Aspen Institute

As a former “Soccer Mom” — aka basketball, baseball, track, golf, skiing, goalball and band Mom — of three children and now as a grandmother of young athletes and scholars, I know well that many businesses that benefit from children’s sports such as:

Sporting goods stores (gear, etc.)

Grocery stores (snacks and drinks per game)

Restaurants (teams’ celebrations)

Trophy stores (ribbons, plaques)

Private coaches

Clinics and camps

Specialized training centers

Gaming centers

Colleges and universities

My granddaughter, Kaidence, a soccer player and extracurricular math and science participant, poses with her favorite Florida State University goalie Brooke Bollinger, during a recent mini-camp.

The work of creative students on a scavenger hunt as part of a class assignment — Part 1

From student Jonathan David about his bicycle photo: Significance: Due to limited parking as a result of construction on Florida A&M’s campus, many students have resorted to cycling to campus. Although the hills may offer a workout, you do not have to worry about a ticket!
Tow Away Zone! Unless you’re a cyclist

Teaching digital native students is a welcomed challenge.

The first assignment for two sections of my digital storytelling courses was to complete a scavenger hunt within a 1.5 mile radius in downtown Tallahassee. Other students captured a single image with a caption in a deadline scenario. Both groups performed well.

In all, the assignment is related to field producing. We have book work and discussions to follow.

Here are some of the images from one of my classes. I will follow up this blog with the second set of images from the other class.


Prayer pouch with a purpose

I was in that place. I was a “baby Christian” as my Atlanta area pastor used to call us who stayed in the same spot without spiritual growth.

I was wrongly speaking aloud about another one of those”worse year of my life” moments when my mother gave me a colorful cloth pouch.

I didn’t go to church with her. I told Mom that I had too many things to sort out and that no one would miss me if I did not attend that day’s service. I also told her earlier that I needed additional funds to repair my vehicle and honor the medical co-payments related to my youngest son’s blindness. I was asking for patience, peace and a semblance of a so-called normal life. It was a too-often state-of-mind for me. I craved a change. That was in 1994.

My mother returned from church and was talking over me about how I should place photos, notes with my hopes and dreams, receipts and faith examples of any type. I tried to again interrupt my mother with my lengthy list of needs. I gave up and decided to try her way. After all, I had nothing to lose.

Nothing to lose: That’s a great place for spiritual interference to enter the room. I found myself clinging to the pouch like it was a necessary hand bag or makeup carrier. I still stuff the pouch today with items that are disparate and have individual meanings to me. The remembrances evoke tears, smiles and frowns from the stuffed away memories of the good in my life and the fears.

Several years ago, I heard a sermon by Dr. Barbara King, founder and senior pastor of Atlanta’s Hillside Chapel & Truth Center, about temporary possessions we give power to in place of the real power source — God, Allah and other deities. She spoke of a rabbit’s foot and other items deemed lucky by its owners. Dr. Barbara — as she is known — told the congregation to use until they could gain strength in trusting the true source.

I was in that place. I was a “baby Christian” as my Atlanta area pastor used to call us who stayed in the same spot without spiritual growth. Dr. Leon Hollinshed was among those kind individuals who helped me to get to my greatest place. For that, I am grateful to him and so many others who stood in the gap with prayers during the year my youngest son became blind and our world became a shadow of its former place.

Since 1994, I’ve cherished memories from some funeral programs, happy and encouraging notes, photos of my children in their early years, an usher pin, an airline ticket, donation receipts, name badges and encouraging letters and notes from family members and now deceased friends.

Connect the dots

1. Even if you don’t feel like it, graciously accept a gift of encouragement.

2. Listen to the still, small voice and act accordingly.

3. Believe in prayer.

4. Do something to honor your gifts. I write thank yous to folk who have extended kindness to my family and me.


How to find best bereavement and emergency travel rates when time is not on your side

Take a breath. Choose mindfulness techniques as sitting in peaceful stillness before planning your travel.
Organize your “proof of death” materials and your relationship to the deceased. If the materials are not readily available to you, the funeral home’s contact information can be used as verification by the carriers, hotels and rental car companies.
Check airline discount fares first and compare it to the bereavement, emergency, compassion rates offered by major carriers and hotels, motels.

Don’t fly away from the last-minute travel fares during times of bereavement or emergencies. Compare cheapest travel rates on all websites and avoid the stress.

When my 81-year-old uncle died in Pensacola, FL on the first Friday of August 2019, his next journey of 1,100 miles placed him in our hometown of Omaha, NE. My family members, too, trekked from several states by planes, trains, buses and automobiles to Uncle Sam’s funeral and burial.

Yet, the real trip was wading through the varied policies and rules on bereavement travel discounts. Hunting for bereavement and emergency rates is not your typical fun thing to do, unless you are in the funeral services business or a travel agent. Travel discount discussions about end-of-life are avoided or never conducted.

Part of the reason is that the bereavement, compassion and emergency rates are not easily understandable. It’s stressful enough dealing with trauma associated with a death of a loved one, whether it was immediate or anticipated after a lengthy illness. Add sorting through the tons of different rules by carriers and hotels to achieve discount rates, and it almost becomes unmanageable and therefore, often the grieving travelers end up paying too much for their travels.

Now that my uncle’s services have passed, I’m happy to share what I have unearthed from the latest emergency and bereavement offers among the airlines, buses, trains and hotels. Because of the time-sensitive nature of our travel, I relied on trustworthy blogs such as https://thepointsguy.com/guide/airline-bereavement-fares/ . It also helps that my sister is a hotel concierge and she guided my logistics.

Don’t cry: It’s personal

Also, most of the carriers and hotels will award the discounts if bereaved travelers are members of its respective loyalty programs. It is helpful to check online for the general policies, yet beware that what is published online may not be the latest information.

Despite my tips and that of others, if the discount travel shopping cause additional stress, choose stress-free living. Cheaper fares are no match for peace of mind.

The journey begins

Amtrak announces on its website that the train carrier offers bereavement rates. It doesn’t. I spoke with two persons from Amtrak and also tweeted a query. It shores up my recommendation to check with each company on its policies. I know it is time consuming during a time-sensitive mourning period.

Another piece of advice is to consider the low-cost offers on sites like Priceline, Kayak, Expedia, Cheap Tickets and more. Compare the travel website rates to the bereavement fares.

Fly away

Delta Airlines, 1-800-221-1212, has a bereavement page on its website that offers answers to most queries about its policy to obtain discounts. Be sure to call Delta if you wish to book a flight at its bereavement rate of 10 – 20 percent. They asked if my relative had a frequent flyer number and thankfully, he did. That is how we yielded a flight at a great rate. You also have to call Jet Blue, 1-800-Jet-Blue, to get discounts for the family members and the mourners attending public services of firefighters, police officers and others in similar professions. Like Delta and Jet Blue, Air Canada, 1-888-247-2262, wants the bereaved to call to finalize details displayed on its website page. The carrier’s bereavement page explains that its policy on discounts for travel and refunds for tickets that were booked at full rates.

Lufthansa offers discounts for the bereaved. In its words, ” In the event of a death abroad Lufthansa offers immediate family members special fares for outbound and return flights to attend the funeral if their journey starts in the USA or Canada. Customers from the USA or Canada are kindly requested to contact their Lufthansa reservations office in the USA or Canada before the start of their trip for further information and to make a booking.” Its number is 1 800 – 645 3880.

Yet, one of my other favorite airlines, Southwest Airlines, 1-800-435-9792, offers condolences to the bereaved and yet does not provide discounts. Frontier Airlines,1-801-401-9000, also does not offer discounts in its fares, yet it has a very liberal refund policy for emergencies that include bereavement.

Check with other airlines and all hotels for special rates and sometimes waived fees for ground transportation and room costs.

Where to lay your head

My family prefers the Marriott hotels and for good reasons. Much like the airlines, if you are members of its loyalty program, the hotel chain offers lower rates for its rooms. Also, similar to the airlines, contact each hotel, compare the bereavement or compassion rates to that of the low-cost airfares offered on travel websites.

Consider other sources

Groupon, for instance, has discount coupons on its websites for low cost travel in times of emergencies. Some ‘plan ahead’ funeral services offer to arrange and pay for travel for the bereaved. My advice is to read the fine print and check the Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection and other oversight agencies for ethical practices.

Even with the best planning and discount rates, flights may be cancelled. It happened to my family. Give yourself extra time to reach destination.

Recap: Connect the dots

  1. Take a breath. Choose mindfulness techniques as sitting in peaceful stillness before planning your travel.
  2. Organize your “proof of death” materials and your relationship to the deceased. If the materials are not readily available to you, the funeral home’s contact information can be used as verification by the carriers, hotels and rental car companies.
  3. Check airline discount fares first and compare it to the bereavement, emergency, compassion rates offered by major carriers and hotels, motels.
  4. Choose stress-free over haggling over cheapest rates. Save your grieving energy.
  5. Remember all of the loving condolences extended to your family or close friend. I offer my condolences and wishes for safe travels.


FAMU Reporting and Writing II students’ podcasts … Spring 2019

Enjoy the first podcasts of Reporting and Writing II students.

Students in two courses of Reporting and Writing II were given assignments to produce radio stories that spring from their semester-long news beat coverage.

Among their requirements: Produce an edited 7-minute podcast. It seemed a near impossible feat. Listen and learn. Enjoy!

Ann Wead Kimbrough, DBA, Professor


Watch “24th & Glory – The Intersection of Civil Rights and Omaha’s Greatest Generation of Athletes” on YouTube


Phylicia Rashād on the legacy of the AKAs highlighted in the ‘Twenty Pearls’ documentary – CNN


Good Genes Genealogy lovingly contributed to the 2021 Hillside Easter Egg Hunt … Drive In Service

Bishop Jack Bomar led a spectacular after-church Easter Egg Hunt on the Hill. Greeting familiar Hillsiders and new friends, Bishop Bomar enjoyed the spiritual fun with everyone.

ATLANTA, GA April 4, 2021 — Surprises were found inside the eggs and redeemed for prizes that included generous cash and two gift certificates for 2 hours each of free genealogy consultations.

Prior to the hunt, the Resurrection Day sermon message by Bishop Jack yielded the following “Three things the Resurrection affords us:

  • Power to wake up to the truth, new life.
  • Power to get up from the old way of being.
  • Power to come out of the old mind, fixed heart and into a new reality.

“Roll, Jordan, Roll” and other great slave songs coded with freedom terms

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is lucy-mckim-garrison-music-sheet.jpg
“Roll, Jordan, Roll” was was coded for escaped slaves

The coded song for escaped slaves, “Roll, Jordan, Roll,” was one of many notable works captured by a young musicologist and published in 1867.

Lucy McKim was 19-years-old when she traveled with her abolitionist father in 1862 to the Sea Islands of Georgia for a three-week visit to check on the conditions of recently freed slaves. The piano teacher was naturally drawn to the songs being sung in different quarters by the newly freed people.

She began to chronicle their songs and in 1867, the then-wife of Wendell Phillip Garrison, published her work with two collaborators. The compelling story of her life and work is found in many journals and books.

Lucy McKim Garrison

Truly “Songs of Sorrow” as viewed by Lucy McKim Garrison, yet freedom songs for slaves

Courtesy of “Documenting the American South,” UNC-Chapel Hill LibraryLucy McKim Garrison was a musicologist born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 30, 1842.

She was born to James Miller and Sarah Allibone McKim. Her parents and other family members were known throughout the abolitionist community and had connections to Quakerism. Garrison received her education in Philadelphia but later moved to Perth Amboy, New Jersey, to attend the Eaglewood School. At the time that Garrison attended Eaglewood, the Grimke sisters were managing it and the school was attended by many abolitionists. She taught piano in Philadelphia and at the Eaglewood School.

During the Civil War in 1862, Garrison traveled with her father, who worked for the Port Royal Relief Committee, to South Carolina to investigate conditions of recently freed slaves. For three weeks, they stayed in the Sea Islands where she listened to the songs of the freedmen and attempted to put the songs into musical notation. The public did not receive her work well upon some of her first publications, so the project was put on hold.

Lucy and Wendell Phillips Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison’s third son, became engaged in 1864 and married on December 6, 1865. In 1867, Garrison gave birth to their first son, Lloyd, and also created Slave Songs of the United States in collaboration with William Francis Allen and Charles Pickard Ware. The publication is considered one of the best sources of slave songs. The couple’s son Philip was born in 1869, followed by their daughter, Katherine, in 1873. Garrison died on May 11, 1877, following a paralytic stroke at age 34. She is buried in Rosedale Cemetery in Orange, New Jersey.

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Here’s another great work about this great lady.


Out of Sight: An Introduction to Unearthing Your African American and Afro-Caribbean Genealogy

A complimentary copy of portions of an e-book written by First Cousins Dr. Ann Wead Kimbrough and Mark S. Owen, MS

Awaiting Final Editing and Proof from Publisher.

© Copy right (2021) by Dr. Ann Lineve Wead and Mark S. Owen, MS, Good Genes Genealogy Services – All rights reserved.

It is not legal to reproduce, duplicate, or transmit any part of this document in either electronic means or printed format. Recording of this publication is strictly prohibited.

This book is dedicated to our collective family. The winding, twisting, inspiring, troubling, confusing, and often rewarding stories from our family have inspired us –
 first cousins, maternal side – and we now present our first joint work.

The book is primarily written by Ann with help from Cousin Mark.

Thank you, ancestors and living family for giving us life.

Mark (in memory of Mom Lyla Owen) Owen


Ann Lineve (in honor of Lyla’s oldest sister and my Mom, Angeline Owen) Wead

January 20, 2021

Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 5

Part I: Out of Our Gloomy Past       

Slavery’s Impact Upon Black Genealogical Research ……………………………………………………………………. 6

Pre- and Post-Civil War Searches ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 8

Making the most of “Brick Walls” ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 9

Mental, Psychological, Spiritual Walls ………………………………………………………………………………………. 10

Find a Way or Make One ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 15

Treasure Hunts ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 16

“Use What You Got” ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 18

1930 United States Federal Census …………………………………………………………………………………………… 34

Questions to get you started with family history interviews …………………………………………………………… 44

Childhood …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 44

Marriage ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 44

Parents and Family …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 45

Holidays and Celebrations ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 45

Major and Historical Events …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 45

Part II: The Workbook – The Game Changers in Black Genealogy

Sharing Your Story ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 46

Top Black Genealogy Sources …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 48

Other resources­­ ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 50

Hidden Figures in Your Family – House Hunting ………………………………………………………………………… 58


Thank you for investing in your future by learning tried-and-true techniques that will help to unlock your family’s rich history.

The goal of this e-book is to help you efficiently navigate through the challenging and lengthy genealogy searches for African American ancestors.  Patience is a virtue for researchers on this journey. The intriguing stories about our ancestors who overcame huge obstacles to allow us to thrive will surely inspire you as a researcher. 

It is a good time to be a researcher of African American genealogy. When I restarted my interest in family genealogy, it was 2007 and the African American genealogical records were limited. Nearly 15 years later, an abundance of materials is available through government websites, Internet links and private sources that include professional genealogy researchers. 

African American genealogy discoveries typically include Native American, European and sometimes, West Indian or Afro-American. My cousin and genealogy collaborator, Mark Owen, recognized that our family composition fits the typical African American bloodline. Our family also share a common tortured history as that of our African American and to a lesser extent, Afro-Caribbean brethren and that is explained in one word: Slavery.

Gems from Ancestry Gems

A few jewelry pieces gifted to me from my maternal grandmother, Helen “Mama Helen” Wilkes Owen Douthy.

Mama Helen, my maternal grandmother, had the most extensive jewelry collection with pieces from the 1920s – 1960s https://hobbylark.com/collecting/antique-jewelry3 that remain rare finds. She bought some jewelry in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, yet she really valued her collectables.

She offered a story behind just about every piece of jewelry. It is why I am able to piece together so many connecting points in her life and that of our family. Her pearl necklaces from Asia, Native American pieces from Mexico and Harlem Renaissance-era bracelets and necklaces, are among the several pieces in her jewelry collection that give a glimpse into how this mother of six really lived. As an aside, my mother, Angie Wead, who is now in her 80s, is Mama Helen’s oldest child.

What she left behind and what you may locate in your relatives’ jewelry boxes is more valuable in genealogy research.

If you wish to know more about how to turn your ancestor’s home into a genealogical treasure hunt for “Road Show”-style results and for successful ancestral purposes, plan to join us for three workshops Family Genealogy Workshop – Hillside International Truth Center in February 2021. The workshops are tax deductible and all proceeds will benefit the Sankofa Hillside International Truth Center, Atlanta, GA.