7 Generations – My Foundation

“Why you never bought a house?” I said to Granddad one day on a college school break. He didn’t get offended. Nor did he shift his posture, remote in hand, sitting up watching jeopardy to turn to me on the other end of his full-size bed. Instead, he chuckled. Charles E. Hunnicutt, my maternal granddad…

7 Generations – The Promise Land

Mary C. Galley, my 2nd Great-grandma was born one day in January 1865 in Wilmington, North Carolina. She was only months old when the 13th amendment abolished slavery. She wouldn’t have known if she was a black girl born enslaved unless her namesake mother Mary Pearce told her point blank, “You were born free.” Like…

7 Generations – A Pink House

A few weeks after working with Zazeannah Walker for the US Fulbright Scholar seeks Barbadian family Loop article–it was in the pipeline and hadn’t created a buzz yet–I hit a genealogy milestone. I decided to ZR to Mount Standfast and essentially walk around and take pictures of the area where I was aware my Great-Grandma Irene lived.…

7 Generations – Going to Barbados

When I was seven years old my aunt said to me, “De berry don’ drop too far from de tree.” She saw my puzzled face over her makeshift Caribbean accent. She used that moment, us eating in her backyard, to give me a piece of family history. “You have African roots that go through the…

7 Generations – Pulling Off the Plaster

It always irked me that Granddad Charles who I lived with once my single parent Mom died advocated for my father. He often said, “Give Jamel a chance.” You know let him be involved in my life. Jamel was only around the corner of Breukelen projects between his mother, Grandma Arlene’s home and Glenwood Road.…

7 Generations – What’s in a Name

A maiden name is the difference between uncovering a new family line and being stopped indefinitely. My 2nd Great-grandma, Clifford Lawson’s maiden name had been buried. Although, I had identified her on the United States Federal Censuses from 1900 to 1940 none of them revealed it. Going through Ancestry.com and other sources, the feeling was…

7 Generations – What’s Left Behind

“Grandma Grace is in the middle of my brother’s head,” Aunt Vicki texted then sent the photo. I immediately recognized Granddad Charles, a much younger and vibrant man than I had lived with. But this woman couldn’t be my Great-grandma Grace. She didn’t fit my imagination on the melanin spectrum. She wasn’t dark brown like…

7 Generations – Not Black, Nor White

“I was the darkest of my siblings,” Grandma said, “he reminded me everyday how he treated me.”  Arlene Allen, is my paternal Grandma, the matriarch of the Allen family. But at this moment, she was the child her father hurt. I doubt I showed shock. My jaw didn’t drop. Nor did my eyes bulge. We…

7 Generations – Kinship

“Certificates are the best source of information,” Shirley said as she chopped a green pepper. She is my cousin-in-law. More precisely, she is Errol’s wife, who is my third cousin once removed. The kinship may sound distant but we’re bonded in genealogy. “What could a certificate reveal?” I said. I had been tracing family history…

7 Generations – Paper Trail

I was looking for a photo of my Great-grandma – Gracie Johnson. It was a black and white photo that showed her wearing a full-length coat with a matching hat. I wanted a second look to get a glimpse of her life – a black woman born about 1892 in North Carolina, whose marriage in…