February 1, 2022
Happy Black History Month, everyone! It’s a time to honor trailblazers and heroes and to reflect on how far we’ve come as a society, while acknowledging how very far we still need to go. As we celebrate the writers and actors, activists and advocates, inventors and pioneers, and those who have made an impact on our daily lives, we find the lives and accomplishments of people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Oprah Winfrey, and former President Barack Obama at the forefront.
I can’t help but give a nod to some of the Black icons that have impacted my own life, such as Vice President Kamala Harris, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, LeVar Burton, Langston Hughes, Angela Davis, Maya Angelou, former First Lady Michelle Obama, Fannie Lou Hamer, Coretta Scott King, Ida B. Wells, Henrietta Lacks, Cicely Tyson, Janet Mock, Regina King, and Alvin Ailey—to name just a few. Of course, this blog space can’t begin to offer the necessary volume to acknowledge even a fraction of the many Black individuals who have made an impact on my world and shaped my own history. Regardless, I appreciate the different qualities each of these icons have and the inspiration they’ve given me.
When researching your ancestry, you may be like me and not discover anyone particularly famous on your family tree. As we celebrate the notable accomplishments of the individuals mentioned above, it’s important to remember that for many of us, it’s the everyday heroes and trailblazers that have left a lasting legacy and made us who we are today.
And when you’re ready to learn more about your African American ancestors, please remember that the Midwest Genealogy Center is here to help. We have resources for beginning genealogists, such as Black Roots: A Beginner’s Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree. For family historians looking for a new research path, we also have some lesser-known resources, such as Forgotten Patriots: African American and American Indian Patriots in the Revolutionary War—A Guide to Service, Sources and Studies: Supplement 2008-2011, which is available for checkout.
If you are able to visit MGC, you might also want to look at Virginia Slave Births Index, 1853-1865 , Slave Narratives, and the Journal of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society.
Who knows! Maybe you’ll discover a military ancestor who was a member of the renowned Buffalo Soldiers, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers, the Tuskegee Airmen, or the “The 6-Triple 8” Central Postal Directory Battalion, the only all-Black female unit to serve in Europe during World War II.
Whatever sparks your interest to begin, or continue, with your genealogy journey, we welcome you to our library. Have you had some “breakthroughs” in your research? Share your discoveries below!
Midwest Genealogy Center