, 2022-07-24 02:00:00,
By Aswad Walker | Defender Network | Word In Black
(WIB) – Over the past few years, there has been an explosion in the number of Black people seeking to find their roots. Some attribute the growth in genealogy activity to the popularity of the PBS series “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.”
Another facilitator of Black interest in tracing their ancestors was the digitization of over 3.5 million documents of Freedman’s Bureau records, i.e., information about Black communities in the United States between 1846 and 1878. This is critical because prior to 1870, U.S. Census records did not include the names of the enslaved, choosing rather to list them under the names of their enslavers, or doing something more dehumanizing — merely referring to them as numbers.
Researchers refer to 1870 as the “brick wall,” posing an obstruction to finding out the family history of most Black families because of the lack of information from 1619 to 1870, roughly 250 years.
Amber Jackson is just one of many Blacks nationally who are reaping the benefits of the family search. Jackson told NBC News that she knew little about the history of her family, and thus felt disconnected from who she was. However, by discovering her bloodlines, Jackson experienced a fuller sense of self.