Review African American Historical Events.
Black, colored or Negro:
words used to describe a person belonging to the African
branch of the black race.
Civil rights: the
rights guaranteed to all U.S. citizens by acts of Congress
and the Thirteenth and Fourteenth amendments to the Constitution.
Kwanzaa: an African American
festival held in late December.
Racism: a belief in racial
superiority of one race over another race.
Slavery: the state of a
person who is owned and considered the property of
Segregation: the separation
or isolation of a race, class, or ethnic group from the rest
EPISODE SEVEN: AFRICAN
This episode focuses on the distinct challenge in
researching African American records. Part one introduces
Collette De Verge. She and members of the Southern
California Genealogical Association share what family
history and genealogy means to them. In part two, expert
Tony Burroughs will dispel myths about African American
records and will introduce new information to help begin
a successful search.
Before Viewing the Episode
- Duplicate the student handout on the next page.
- Read aloud the EPISODE OVERVIEW and OBJECTIVE.
- Write the VOCABULARY words (at left) on the
board, and discuss with the class the meaning of
the words racism, segregation, slavery, colored,
black, Negro, and civil rights, all of which are
important to understanding African American genealogy.
note: A suggested time for viewing
Episode Seven would be during Black History Month in
February or during Kwanzaa from December 26 to January 1.
After Viewing the Episode
African American Historical Events and Records
Events create records that are important in family
history research. African American records are defined by
their creation in the context of American history. The
students will fill in the timeline with the appropriate
events in African American history. They will then deduce
which events created records that can be used in family history
- Classroom discussion of the records created
A. Slavery. Slaves were treated as property, therefore,
Bills of Sale, probate records from plantations and
inventories can be used to trace African American
B. African Americans have served in all the U.S. wars
including the Revolutionary and Civil War. Military
records are a great source of information for the
C. Plessy vs. Furgeson created a legal framework
for segregation. As African Americans were segregated
in every aspect of their lives, so were their
records. African Americans often need to search
segregated records to find information about their
ancestors. For example, as Tony Burroughs noted in
the series, African Americans are often found in the back,
or colored section of City Directories, a precursor
of the telephone book.
A. 1870 The Fifteenth Amendment was
passed. All citizens, regardless of race or gender
were given equal protection of the law.
B. 1787 The United States
Constitution was approved. Slaves had no rights as
citizens, and were counted as three-fifths of a
C. 1954 Supreme Court declared
that segregation of the races is unconstitutional in Brown
vs. Topeka case.
D. 1963 250,000 people attended a
civil rights rally in Washington D.C., where they
heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.s "I Have
a Dream" speech.
E. 1861 (April 12) - The Civil
War began. Slavery was a major cause of the fighting between
the North and South.
F. 1619 The first black slaves in
North America arrived in Virginia.
G. 1865 (March 3) - The Union
Congress created the Freedmens Bureau to assist
H. 1909 The National Association
for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded.
Blacks and whites joined together to legally try to
I. 1964 The Civil Rights Act of
1964 was passed by Congress, and declared that
discrimination on the basis or race, sex, religion,
or national origin was unlawful.
J. 1896 "Separate but
equal" facilities for blacks and whites were
declared constitutional by the Supreme Court in the
Plessy vs. Ferguson case.
K. 1700. Author Samuel Sewall
wrote "The Selling of Joseph" as the first
American protest against slavery.
L. 1778 An Act of Congress
prohibited the import of slaves into the U.S.
M. 1865 (December 6) - The Thirteenth
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was passed,
N. 1955 Rosa Parks, a black woman,
sparked the civil rights movement in the South when
she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man
and was arrested.
O. 1989 L. Douglas Wilder was
elected Governor of Virginia. He was the first
African American to be elected a governor in the
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