Tangled Roots: Braxton Descendants Research Their Past and Discover Intersecting Black and White Family Threads.
Friday, March 24, 2023 at 1:30pm
Panelists: Viola O. Baskerville, B.A., J.D.; Gerry Gilstrop, MS, CPhT; Allison Thomas
This panel discussion will reflect on the movement toward African American descendant and allied communities to transform historical narratives through collaborative genealogical research by reaching across ethnic lines to either confirm or deny family stories. African American history is American history; yet, Black family history is often difficult to confirm because families were often torn apart, and critical paper documents are often either incomplete or missing. Despite these “brick walls,” key information awaits to be discovered. The panelists will discuss the genesis of their collaboration, their family trees, the types of evidence being collected and their research goals. The panel includes a descendant of Carter Braxton, Sr., Virginia Signer of the Declaration of Independence whose family resourced the College; a descendant of an enslaved man believed to have been owned by the Braxton family, and a descendant of a free person of color whose ancestors migrated from New Kent County to Williamsburg. Our ancestors were witnesses to history. They have testimonies to share. When tested in the crucible of serious genealogical research, these stories can provide the necessary steps toward healing, reconciliation and liberation for descendants of both the enslaver as well as the enslaved. Hopefully, this panel discussion will encourage those who are researching their Black family history and urge them to cross ethnic lines to untangle their roots.