Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Young Black Students at U.S. Genealogy Camp Trace Their Roots

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Young Black Students at U.S. Genealogy Camp Trace Their Roots

Article excerpt

NEW ORLEANS

Jameel Reese expected to spend his summer swimming, hanging out and goofing off with friends. Instead, he spent it finding family.

Reese discovered his great, great, great grandfather by - of all things - going to camp. He and six other Black children ages 7 to 15 attended Youth Genealogy Camp, which seeks to nurture an appreciation for the struggles of those who came before them.

"He was trained to be a casket maker while he was still a slave," the soft-spoken 12-year-old says of his ancestor. "He was sold when he was 11. He must have cried a lot then."

The month-long day camp is the brainchild of Antoinette Harrell-Miller, founder of the nonprofit African-American Genealogy Connection.

"So many kids have no idea of their own history," she says. "They don't stop and think about how their family got here or how they lived."

The campers pored over records in the library and The Amistad Research Center at Tulane University. They also visited cemeteries and older family members and went to parish courthouses.

They dug through birth and death certificates, deeds, registrations and voting lists.

"We took them to federal and state offices so they could learn how to get records," Harrell-Miller says. …

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