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.


April 1 is Census Day.

The United States 2020 Census kicked off this year and will conclude when the census bureau delivers a final report to the President by December. …


This blog is a celebration of my mother Ann and her family namesakes in commemoration of Women’s History Month.

My mother was named after her grandmother Annie and her great-great grandmother Sarah Ann. …


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.


I enjoy genealogy because it takes me on new life adventures and experiences. This year it led me to an exciting guest appearance on the reality show Relative Race.

Relative Race airs on BYUtv and is in its sixth season. Contestants race across the country on a 10-day adventure in…


Seventy-five years ago, my grandfather James Doc Richards was one of 73,000 U.S. troops to land on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. I know this because he told me so.

About a year before my grandfather passed away, he came to visit with me. I took the day off…


On Sunday, May 20th Morehouse College commencement speaker Robert F. Smith made news by committing to pay off all student loans for the entire graduating class. Morehouse is a historically black, all-male liberal arts college located in Atlanta, Georgia. …


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…


Successful genealogy research starts with goal setting. After all, how can you effectively uncover your family history if you have not defined the questions you want to answer? So at the beginning of each year I establish a set of family history research goals for myself.

I have been researching…


On sunny winter day this past February at a storage facility near Suffolk, VA, my cousin Betty entrusted me with a precious family gift, an original drawing of my great-great-great grandfather Exum White. …

Andre Kearns

Blogging on Race, Culture, History and Genealogy.

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