MORROW — More than one speaker asserted during the “1619 – 2019: African Americans’ 400-year Journey - Footprint in Georgia” event at the Georgia Archives Saturday not to rely upon history books.
“We are doing a lot to correct history,” said Emma D. Hamilton, chairperson of the Black History Month Project Committee, as she introduced the program.
The event brought together 170 researchers who dig into the past for one special reason or another.
Christopher Davidson, state archivist, welcomed speakers and visitors to the program, and Jumoke Ifetayo, an activist and member of the Afrikan Liberation Movement, offered libation, a formal prayer that recognizes ancestry. Adolphus Armstrong served as master of ceremony.
Guest speakers offered their viewpoints on various topics that started with Lisa Bratton of Tuskegee University speaking on the life of the Creek Indians and the black indigenous Indians before Georgia became a colony.
A cameo presentation was made by a representative of the Gay Family who went back in time, around 1820, to talk about the progression of Reuben Gay and his family in Fayette County.
Genealogist Kristin Harris continued the program’s timeline with the topic, “Founding Georgia.” She erased many of the early myths of the Georgia Colony and told of its role as a protector of the South Carolina Colony, which had been founded 125 years earlier.
Historian Velma M. Thomas led her audience through the early years of Auburn Avenue and United Odd Fellows of Georgia. She told of the life of Benjamin Jefferson Davis Sr. and the erection of the Odd Fellows building which set the standard for African-American architecture in Atlanta.
The event was brought to culmination with the topic, “Researching Georgia,” as Archivist Caroline Crowell told visitors, especially those new to genealogy research, how best to start digging into family backgrounds.
“The Georgia Archives holds a wealth of information relative to African-American genealogy,” Crowell said. “We always recommend that people start by gathering any information they might have at home, including what family members might know about the relatives of interest.”
For more information, visit the Georgia Archives at www.georgiaarchives.org. The Archives is located at 5800 Jonesboro Road in Morrow and is open to the public Tuesday-Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.