I’m excited about being asked to repeat a presentation that I delivered back in February for the University of Pennsylvania’s Black Alumni Society entitled “African-American Genealogy 101″. This time, the presentation is being sponsored by the Penn Alumni Relations Office of Multicultural Outreach and the Penn Alumni Education “Office Hours” webinar series.  This webinar is open to all Penn Alumni and will be held on June 19, 2013 from 12:00pm to 1:00pm Eastern Daylight Time.

Why in the middle of the week you might ask? Well, June 19 is “Juneteenth”, the anniversary of the end of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865. What’s that you say? Wasn’t slavery ended with the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln 150 years ago? Or the end of the Civil War when Robert E. Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865? No, if you were in Galveston, Texas, the end of slavery was when General  Gordon Granger showed up with 2,000 Union troops and read General Order Number 3:

“ The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

So June 19, or Juneteenth (also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day), has been celebrated since that time, almost consistently.  That celebration is observed in 42 states and the District of Columbia as either a state holiday or special day of observance. While the observance almost ended, it has seen a resurgence.

The presentation covers basic genealogy techniques, challenges unique to African-Americans, and uses some of my personal research, specifically leveraging Bishop Alexander W. Wayman, 7th Bishop of the A.M.E. church, to learn more about how those that came before my generation lived before, during and after the Civil War.

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