In The Time Travels of Annie Sesstry, the reader learns of the tribulations of the Unknown Ancestor; a spirit voice representing the millions of Africans forcibly removed from their native land. Men, women, and children sold into slavery whose identities are unlikely to be ever known. The Unknown Ancestor speaks of his journey on a slave ship; her despair at being sold and stripped of her identity, her culture, her dignity. She or he begs their descendants to find him or her and restored them to the fullness of humanity. Thus, the challenge of the Sesstry family is to one day unmask the identity of the Unknown Ancestor.
With today’s expanding DNA services, many are searching for clues to their ancestry, and, like Annie, to discover the origins of their bloodline. But most Americans of African descent lack the requisite information to know their ancestors and they are unable to trace their DNA to a specific individual, regardless of the claims of televisions commercials that suggest the contrary.
In the novel Roots, Alex Haley made the impossible seem possible. It was over forty years ago that Haley penned his family tale, beginning with the capture of a black man in Africa and concluding with an American/African reunion two hundred years later. The story was written before Ancestry.com, and other companies established the platforms for familial searches. Since the publication and subsequent television mini-series of Haley’s work, African Americans have increased the efforts to identify their unknown ancestors – the Kunta Kinte in their lineage.
So this blog endeavors to contribute to the efforts of African Americans and other ethnic groups to uncover information about their ancestors. We cannot be another research service, but we can give our readers the opportunity to share their stories and information. Readers are invited to be co-contributors and to highlight strategies and resources they have used to fill in the gaps of their family history.
If anyone has information or an intriguing story to share, they are invited to embark on this journey with Annie, Emma, and Joshua to track the unknown ancestors; and more importantly, to celebrate the ancestors we do know who are heroes, sheroes, and role models to today’s young people.
A good place to start is to determine how far back you can go on at least one side of your family.
Let’s get started.