A Community to Belong

An Organization for the African Ancestored

Grandaunt Isabelle Geder; Grandfather Emmett Geder

I’ve had many mentors that helped and ‘guided’ me over the years since I got involved with genealogy and family history. Mentors come in many different personas and colors. There are, of course, the experts in the field and the books they’ve written, the family members who share the knowledge and information they have, and the random acts of genealogical kindness coming from strangers.

When people share and develop a dialogue with like-spirited individuals, a kind of mentorship can take place. My greatest mentors come from the Ancestors. When I slow down to review the collected data, their spirit and wisdom prophetically appears. So, these are my mentors.

Are organizations like APG (Association of Professional Genealogists) and BCG (Board for Certification of Genealogists ) meeting my needs? To answer that question, I would have to first define my needs.

As an African Ancestored genealogist and family historian I have a need to communicate with folks who are sensitive, learned and entrenched in the African American experience. There are the stories that were told through the generations in hopes that they will reach the ears, minds and hearts of the future African Ancestored tellers and griots. I crave for the scholarship that can only come from those who have walked, talked and shed tears in the African diaspora.

There is a uniqueness and a particular-ness to the challenges in researching our people that comes before and goes beyond the imagined 1870 brick wall. The challenges that come before the 1870 brick wall include the reconstruction era, jim crow, segregation, sharecropping, migration, lynching, voting rights, unfair and unequal education, civil rights and downright subjugation and marginalization of my people.

The challenges after the 1870 brick wall include American Slavery, the breaking and destroying of the family unit, the denial of cultural and spiritual growth, and the complete cruelty put upon my people.

Can organizations like the APG and the BCG, with their leaders and membership provide the requisite empathy, nurturing, and guidance that I need? Or is it time for a more relevant and focused organization, built from the ground up, to see to the needs of the African Ancestored genealogist and family historian? Does this make sense? Does this resonate?

I would actually love to witness and participate in such an organization. An organization, at its core, that acknowledges Alex Haley’s contributions, that acknowledges the many gifted African Ancestored historians, researchers, genealogists, sociologists, and cultural evangelists. An organization whose mission is to teach, foster, and support its members. One that is built upon the strength, courage, and wisdom of the Ancestors. An organization that will implement its own high academic standards, guidelines specific to the African diaspora, and will be on the bleeding edge of technology, civil rights and social justice throughout the 21st century.

That would be an organization I could sign up for and a community I would readily belong to.

What are your thoughts?