I was thrilled to present at RootsTech Connect 2021, the world’s largest family history technology conference which attracted over one million attendees globally. I shared a session on Helping African Americans Trace Slaveholding Ancestors Using DNA. I outlined my four-step approach developed over years of genealogy experience: create a family tree; talk with family members; use research to extend your tree; and leverage extensive DNA testing. Learn how I used this approach to uncover that my third great grandfather Henry Johnston, born enslaved in Catawba, North Carolina in 1848, was the son of an enslaved woman named Milly and her slaveowner John Smyre Jr. whose family emigrated from Germany to North Carolina in the early 18th century. Watch my session below.

The Republican Party of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina hosted a convention on Saturday April 12, 1884 to appoint delegates to the State convention. The scene that unfolded that day at the Mecklenburg county courthouse was utterly chaotic, and my great-great-great grandfather W.B. Harvell stood in the middle of it all.

Last week the genealogy company Ancestry stopped airing a TV ad titled “Inseparable” after receiving an avalanche of criticism on social media for romanticizing slavery. The ad depicts a white man in the pre-civil war south urging an enslaved black woman named Abigail to escape north with him.

Screen grab of the “Inseparable” ad

I have…

Andre Kearns

Blogging on Race, Culture, History and Genealogy.

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