Category Archives: African-Native

Why African American and POC Genealogists and DNA Small Segments Matter!!!!

I have been busy writing my book, The DNA Trail from Madagascar to the Americas.  However, I had to take a break from writing to respond to two of Roberta Estes’ blogposts which were written in the last 2 weeks that angered many as well as Ancestry’s decision to eliminate <8 cM DNA cousin matches.

Please read my blogpost Listening to Our Ancestors This Time: M23 is NOT a Native American Mitochrondrial Haplogroup written 6 years ago as it shows Roberta Estes’ modus operandi is still the same then as it is now. I was dismissed by her even though I have been co-admin of FTDNA’s Malagasy Roots Project with CeCe Moore , descend from Malagasy ancestors, and help people discover their Malagasy Roots. What could I possibly know? It’s Estes’s refusal to address things in private and disregard the contributions of African-Americans and POC genealogists, within the larger genetic genealogy field, that make some of us go public in order to correct her genealogy ignorance, however “benign” Estes considers it to be. Not giving credit where credit is due is also a MAJOR problem for us. I don’t even know Roberta Estes personally so is not “Roberta bashing” to offer VALID, CONSTRUCTIVE criticism which she would get in any peer reviewed scenario.  We say ENOUGH is ENOUGH because African American and POC Genealogists Matter!!!!

While African American genealogists can appreciate Roberta Estes speaking out in favor of AncestryDNA keeping small segments, we DON’T appreciate the manner in which she went about it. Making outrageous statements like the one below is indicative of her lack of experience with African American genealogy and history. Given her blog audience, it is critically important for African American and POC genealogists to correct gross MISINFORMATION like this.

 

She is still very dismissive of African American genealogists whom I appreciate for calling her out for her inaccuracies immediately. As of this morning, she has still failed to issue a retraction or delete the inaccuracies she is perpetuating.

 

 

 

By the way, did I mention that Nicka Smith is Roberta Estes’s DNA cousin???? Did I mention that Family Tree Magazine voted BlackProGen LIVE one of their 10 Best YouTube Genealogy and History Channels? Did I mention that Megan Smolyenak  awarded Nicka Smith and BlackProGEn LIVE a 2020 Seton Shield’s Genealogy Grant? I encourage everyone to check out my BlackProGen LIVE page to see all of our panel’s genealogy credentials and blogs. While you are also on my website, Please check out my AfricanAmerican/African Descent Genealogy Blogs as well as my LatinX, Caribbean, and Cape Verdean Blogs. Mind you, African American genealogy has made quantum leaps and bounds since Roots. We have been here for more than a quick minute. No amount of clicking your heels three times, wishing us goodbye, and twirling around will make us disappear. We have always been part of the larger genealogy community even if that community has failed to recognize us. We SEE you! The question is, “Can you see US now?” We truly hope so!

As many people know from reading my blog, I have been a panelist on BlackProGen LIVE the past few years. BlackProGen LIVE , Midwest African American Genealogy Insitute (MAAGI)  and the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS) have classes that are taught by qualified African American genealogists (and others) who consistently break down pre-1870 brickwalls — some of those walls go back to the 17th-18th century. It also goes without saying that WE ARE experts in searching for our own ancestors and the communities they lived in across space and time. In fact, I have gone further and believe it is our moral obligation, as descendants, to be the voice of our ancestors in our lifetimes. #FactsMatter

On Using Small DNA Segments

As an African American AND Puerto Rican genealogist with Native American family and ancestral ties to many nations up and down the East Coast due to my deep colonial roots, I believe in the inherent value of small segments in certain situations and always in conjunction with traditional genealogy methods. Because my family has tested 30+ family members, if any or some of them match an individual between 8-20+ cMs, then chances are that my 6 cM or 7 cM match may not be just “noise.” It may be indeed “real.” I am not alone in believing that eliminating <8 cMs will be devastating for us. Fonte Felipe, a Cape Verdean Dutch genealogist/genetic genealogist, published a blogpost this week that describes in depth why Afro-Descendants are rightly concerned with losing their matches. He calculates that 50-75% of our matches will disappear. Fonte’s research also shows how people in the African and Native Diaspora use AncestryDNA matches in creative ways. His breakdown analyses of various African regions at the micro-level per country is one GREAT example. Shannon Christmas, a well-known and respected African American genealogist/genetic genealogist, has also published a blogpost titled What Genetic Genealogy Needs Now —Priorities, Problems, Solutions” That gives a great overview of the issues facing African American Genetic Genealogy with all DNA testing companies.

For many of us, DNA testing has allowed us to finally discover some of our ancestral truths by revealing these 5th-8th DNA cousin matches. For someone like me, just knowing that an ancestor was Lenni-Lenape, Ewe, Nipmuc, Fante, Pamunkey, Malagasy, etc. is something I want to know because I consider it to be my birthright!  That being said, as long as I have my African – and Native American DNA cousin matches, I have peace of mind knowing that I found something that was supposed to be lost forever due to all aspects of slavery. The existence of  my ancestors’ lives, in the archival records and elsewhere, is a testament to the fact that my Black, Brown, and Red ancestors were consummate survivors of a global capitalist system of slavery that devalued them for centuries. Their “soul value,” as Daina Ramey Berry has written, however, has always been incalcuable to me.

Below are some blogposts that African- and Native American descended genealogists/genetic genealogists have written that highlight how genetic genealogy has been a godsend for people with African, Native, and Asian ancestry.

 

Dutch Woman in Search of West African Forefather 1

Dutch Woman in Search of West African Forefather 2

Dutch Woman in Search of West African Forefather 3

Discovering Igbo Roots Through Genealogy and DNA

A Puerto Rican Look at: Y-111 (Correa)

Using DNA Painter to Verify Igbo Origins

Decolonzing My Family Tree: Revisiting Juan Eusebio Bonilla Salcedo

Got Roots in Madagascar?

Confirming African Matches: Abuelo’s Peul (Fula) Relatives

Finding Your Wakanda Africa With DNA Testing

Ghana, Kassena: Finding Safiah’s Diaspora Relatives

Slavery Freedom and the Babilonias of Puerto Rico: Re-visioning a Family History: Part 1

Slavery Freedom and the Babilonias of Puerto Rico: Re-visioning a Family History: Part 2

 

On Using Full Sequence mtDNA and Autosomal DNA to Discover Enslaved Malagasy Global Migration Dispersals

Slavery, colonialism, and genocide were never designed for Black and Native family reunification. On the contrary, it was meant to obliterate the ties that bind FOREVER. While many people know that 12 Million people of African descent were forcibly imported into what became the United States during the Transatlantic Slave Trade, many are unaware of the fact that between 2-4 Million Native Americans, primarily  men, were forcibly exported from their Turtle Island homeland and they were the first people to be enslaved by British colonizer settlers. Ships that sailed from ports laden with colonial merchandise from the American colonies transported shackled enslaved Indigenous Americans around the world. On these same ships returning from the Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, West and East Africa, were enslaved Africans who occupied the same hellish spots that many Indigenous Americans previously occupied only months before. As a descendant of Native American, North/South/West/East African, and Malagasy people, any one of these enslaved people who were forcibly removed from their homelands could have very well been my own ancestors.

Any discussions of African- and Native American genetic genealogy must be viewed within the lens of slavery and capitalism. Commodities like gold, silver, coffee, sugar, tobacco, spices, timber, cotton, wine, and enslaved people were traded between the 15th and 19th centuries by the Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, British, and American colonial powers. The wealth of nations was literally made off the extraction of forced enslaved labor. The disposibility of enslaved Black, Brown, and Red bodies has always been calculated for maximum profit with losses always taken into account. It was the overall exchange of merchandise that allowed colonial empires to prosper and which has led to repeated calls for reparations today (and yesterday) by the descendants of those who were formerly enslaved.

Looking at global macro-histories allows us to see the conditions which led to our ancestors forced migrations. Likewise, a mtDNA analysis of Full Sequences matches, along with autosomal DNA matches, gives a “micro-history” of how slavery dispersed enslaved people around the globe. Using my extended M23 DNA family as a case study, my 1st book,The DNA Trail From Madagascar to the Americas, will discuss how genetic genealogy can be used to flesh out the silences of our ancestral pasts. I will be updating and expanding on my four blogposts below. In addition, I will be discussing the micro-histories of many of our ancestors in the locations where they ended up with the sole intention of inserting them into the historical record and adding to the growing literature witinh the subfield of history that is focused on the historiography of enslaved people.

 

As of today, Andrea and I have been able link a majority of our M23 Malagasy matches to the NY/NJ Hudson River Valley Region going back to the mid-1600s and a subset of that group to VA, AL, LA, and MS. Three of our M23 cohort members are connected to the French Hugeunot Devoe Family of Uslter County, NY, Middlesex County, NJ, and Pennsylvania. They are also descendants of Rose Fortune, a Black Loyalist, who ended up in Nova Scotia at the end of the Revolutionary War along with 5 Thompson women —possibly our own ancestors— from Newark, NJ.  Another member traces his ancestry to St. Helena Island in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, an island that received thousands of enslaved Malagasy. As part of the Islamic Slave Trade, 1 cohort member’s family ended up in Antigua, before moving to  St. Croix via India and another member’s Malagasy ancestors ended up in Yeman.  Three members, and possibly a 4th depending on mtDNA test results,  are the descendants of NY/NJ ancestors who were kidnapped and sold South to enslavers in AL, LA, MS via the illegal Van Wickle Slave Ring to work on sugar and cotton plantations. Like many Malagasy women who ended up as concubines, another of our M23 cohort member is linked to the Ragland and Merriweather Families of Colonial Virginia whose descendants migrated to KY, TN, and TX.  Moreover, four other cohort members are linked to the African American Timbrook/Ten Broeck Family who were enslaved by the Buckelew Family of Middlesex County, NJ. Lastly, our own family is tied to the Dutch Blauvelt, Haring, Schmidt, Demarest, Mabie, DeWitt and Ackerman families of Bergen County, NJ who left New Amsterdam and settled the Tappan Patent in 1678. Though a mtDNA test will never help us identify our common M23 ancestor, we are still able to learn “micro-histories” about the lives of our Malagasy-descended DNA cousins by finding more about their family origins.

Her Name Is Sophie/Sophia Legars Henry (1805-1868) : A Malagasy Migration Micro-History in Small DNA Segments

When categorizing our small DNA segment matches on Ancestry, several of my family  members shared DNA  with K.W. When Andrea reached out to K.W. inquiring about her Malagasy ancestor Sophie/ Sophia Lizard Henry.  Andrea was told that, “Sophie was born in Madagascar and was sold into slavery. She was sentenced to death in Mauritius but it was overturned and she was sent to Australia with her son.” There was nothing else known about her parents or siblings. We had so many questions as to what Sophie did to get a death sentance. How did she end up in Australia? Was Sophie related to us? Possibly. We hope this  DNA cousin will take a mtDNA test since Sophie is her maternal ancestor and may also have a M23 haplogroup.

 

 

Sophie was sent to New South Wales,  Australia on the Ship Ann, as a convict in 1825. She was described as being – 5’2″ tall with copper skin and black eyes, black lips, a broad nose, and stout. Her migration micro-history definitely caught our attention.

National Archivrs of Mauritius., Court of Assizes Procceedings, April 1823

 

After a bit of deep digging to see what I could find on Sophie, I came across a University of Tasmania dissertation by Eilin Friis Hordvik titled “Mauritius Caught in the Web of Empire: the legal system, crime, punishment a nd labour 1825  that described all the events that led to Sophie’s banishment to New South Wales, Australia.  Sophie had been a personal child slave to Madame Francoise Legars (not Lizard) before her marriage to Amedee Bonsergent, a Medical Officer in Mauritius, in 1818. At 18 years old, Sophie was in a relationship with Jean Gombault, a Free Black Creole and was pregnant with their son Jean, Jr. Below describes the events as they were reported at the time.

 

Hordvik, p.85
Hordvik, p.86

For his receiving of stolen money, which was returned, JeanGombault received 8 years in iron chains.

The Bonsergents wanted to  be compensated 300 piastres for Sophia and her son’s transportation to Australia as well as damages to their other property. At the time, the French IndoChinese piastre,  was the currency used in the Indian Ocean and Far East commercial trade. When the British took over Mauritius in 1810, they continued to use piastres. According to Hordvik, “The average price for a female slave at the time was 250 piastres. Negotiations between Bonsergent and the local government in the end settled on the sum of 80 piastres (including the child), which was the price fixed for a male slave in similar circumstaces. substantially less than the open market price. The Mauritian authorities were not prepared to pay extra for Sophie’s son.”  For the record, Sophie was the first Mauritian to be banished to Australia and her son Jean, Jr. was the only child to follow a parent to Australia when it was just a penal colony.

Sophie was probably assigned to work as a domestic for a free settler or assigned to work at the Perramatta Female Factory as a majority of female convicts had to do. Though Sophie and her son would technically be freed upon arrival in Australia, one has to question what degree of freedom (i.e., “unfreedom”) she actually obtained if she worked under the same harsh conditions as before her arrival. That she was female also opens up the question as to what, if any, sexual abuse she may have been subjected to during her banishment.

Three years after she arrived, Sophie, now  known by the English version of her name Sophia, married John Henry, another convict of color who arrived in New South Wales onboard the Earl St. Vincent in 1818. Of the 160 men who boarded in Cork, Ireland on August 7, 1818, he was one of 157 survivors who landed on December 16, 1818. He was born in Suriname which was then part of British Guiana and was mostly likely from a mixed-race background.  We don’t know when or how she met John Henry, but he was sent to Parramatta where worked on a Farm Factory until his term expired. These two convicts were married in St. James Church  with a marriage bann with the consent of the Governor on March 21, 1828.

 

John Henry later adopted Jean Gombault,Jr. after he married Sophie and together they also had a daughter named Sophia Emma Henry. In September of 1833, both John Henry and Sofia Emma were baptized together in St. James Church in Sidney.

Sofia Emma Henry (1833-1905), K.W.’s ancestor, married John Hemson (1814-1887), a convict from Suffolk, England who arrived on  Ship The England in 1835. They had the following children: John, T., Sophia, Louisa, Emily, Agnes, Walter, Alice, Eva, and Lenard. John was able to purchase land after completing his sentence and later became a police constable.

At this time, we know little regarding Jean Gombault Henry, but this may change in the future.

Louisa Hemson Atkins (1855-1943), daughter of Sophia Emma and John Hemson, and granddaughter of Sophie/Sophia Legars Henry

Conclusion: Will the loss of Our <8 cM DNA matches result in a Genetic Paper Genocide?

As a family historian and genealogist, I constantly remind others that they need to dig deep. By that, I mean that we MUST explore all avenues of research to locate our ancestral stories which are buried and submerged leading to the mistaken belief that everything about our ancestors’ lives have been erased when, in fact, their histories have been just waiting to be found.  Genealogical research on African and Native American ancestors is not easy because of the historic trauma they were subjected to as enslaved human beings and the dearth of documentation. However, our duty as descedants also requires us to muster up  the strength to soldier on and not get discouraged. Our ancestral stories EXIST!

With Ancestry doing away with <8 cM DNA matches, African and Native American descendants will lose, not only DNA cousins who may, in fact, be related to us via slavery, but we also could lose thousands of  “micro-histories” in the process. Sophie’s life story is just one exmple of what could be lost to people who share DNA matches o they no longer have access to because they have been subjected to a genetic paper genocide. I define  “genetic paper genocide” as a deliberate and systematic erasure of DNA matches that results in the obliteration of ancestors’ and family history. I understand that Ancestry’s decision was made to increase the accuracy of DNA cousin matches. However, it is clear from their decision that they did not consult with the very people who would be disproporiately impacted. It makes you wonder if Ancestry realizes that they are in fact telling us that OUR ANCESTORS DON’T MATTER!  Given their public statement in support of Black Lives Matter, it would be a major blow if they allow it to become just a corporate slogan and performative action with no real value other than the optics behind it

.To prevent genetic paper genocide, I recommend the following:

  1. That Ancestry reach out to well-known African American and Native American genealogists who have a large number of followers, like the genealogists on BlackProGen LIVE, AAHGS, Shannon Christmas, Fonte Felipe, Ellen Fernandez-Sacco, Terry Ligon, Bernice Bennett,  Angela-Walton-Raji, Melvin Collier,  Andre Kearns, Colleen Robledo Greene, Luis Ariel Rivera, among others to get advice on how to move forward.
  2. That Ancestry either rescind their decision to remove any <8 cM matches immediately or extend the time period for people to group their low matches for at least 6 months due to the pandemic.
  3. That Ancestry seriously consider that they are preventing family reunification not only due to slavery, but also due to adoption, genocide, famine, etc.
  4. That ancestry fix their Timber algorithm so that it does not treat all “pile-up” cMs as IBS and thus already limit the amount of small DNA segments that could in fact be IBD.
  5. That Ancestry find other ways to fix any broken systems they have presently.

 

Off the Battlefield, But Still Suffering from PTSD

This blog is dedicated to our cousins Helen Hamilton, Keith Lyon, and Raymond Armour who were on this jouney with us from the start and whom all joined our pantheon of ancestros within the past 8 months. They are now our newly-appointed Ancestor Angels and biggest cheerleaders. We will keep saying their names so that they will always be remembered.
L Cousins Helen Hamilton, Keith Lyon, and Raymond Armour

On behalf of the extended Lyon-Green-Merritt family, we would like to thank the Town of Greenwich Board of Selectmen, State Representative Michael Bocchino, the Conservation Commission, Nancy Dickinson, Christopher Shields, and the rest of the Cemetery Committee of the Town of Greenwich, The Office of the Town Clerk, the Greenwich Preservation Trust, CeCe Saunders, Brian Jones, and the staff of Historical Perspectives, Inc., the Greenwich Historical Society, and the Rye Historical Society for their help over the past four years. A special thank you goes to Josephine Conboy and the Greenwich Preservation Trust who worked hand in hand with State Rep. Michael Bocchino to advocate for a new CT cemetery law that will protect other ancient burial grounds from the descecration our family experienced. Another thank you goes to Jeffrey Bingham Mead who challenged me years ago to research and preserve not only the history of Greenwich, but also to write about a history he knew was important for people to read. Finally, I owe a big thank you, to Eric Fowler, Anne Young, and the Law Department of the Town of Greenwich for dealing with me directly these last two years as it was not an easy thing to do and I admit it.

When the Battle Is Over, I’m going to SING and SHOUT!: We Claim Victory!

They got to keep their driveway. It was never about their driveway or their property for us! NEVER!

We GOT EVERYTHING WE WANTED!!!!

It was all about preserving OUR cemeteries, especially the “Colored Cemetery” section of Byram Cemetery, and making sure all our ancestors would be remembered and properly memorialized. It was about making sure that our ancestors in the “Colored Cemetery” would be able to rest in peace, alongside their kin, after having their section of Byram Cemetery made into someone’s front lawn. It was about making sure our Lyon ancestors’ original intention for the “Colored Cemetery” to exist where it always has been was RESPECTED and given the historic, accurate name it always had. It was about making sure OUR LINEAL RIGHTS as descendants were finally acknowledged. Most importantly, it was about paying tribute to the Native-African presence that has always been in Greenwich and which has always been reflected in the Lyon-Green-Merritts of Color who have the DNA, oral, and written history to back up their Native-African heritage — no one ever had the right to tell us what we always have been. Finally, it was about paying tribute to the history of slavery that was personified in the North which led to our ancestors working together on the Underground Railroad and engaging in the social justice/resistance acts of abolition.

We Were NEVER the PROBLEM/http://www.timidmc.com/shop/

After almost a year of being on the Cemetery battlefield, on August 6th, my 5 cousins and I learned that the judge DENIED The Stewarts their 2nd Motion to Strike us from The Jeffrey M. Stewart et. al. v. The Town of Greenwich et. al. lawsuit. We had been waiting for the day for a judge to read all our documented evidence. Then, on Wednesday, August 8th, we were asked to send a letter indicating our support for the Town of Greenwich’s Stipulation of Settlement as the Now Named 6 defendants. The next day, on August 9th, the Town of Greenwich Board of Selectmen approved the Stipulation of Settlement at 10.42 am. I was at the funeral of my Uncle/Cousin Raymond Armour where I had the honor of announcing the Settlement to my family and to him directly. It will now be sent to the judge. Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end of this case.

The “Colored Cemetery” is where our Native-African ancestors were buried. Make no mistake, our ancestors ARE BURIED there and have been for centuries. The Stewarts’ constant and continued denial of our ancestors physical presence in the “Colored Cemetery,” speaks volumes about THEM more than it does our ancestors. In my blogposts on my Green-Merritt ancestors and on the now resurrected, hidden historic community of HangrootI documented our ancestors lives in Greenwich, CT and noted how they were the ONLY family of Native-African descent to live next to their former slave owners and slave owner descendants for over a century. In fact, they made up the majority of People of Color in Greenwich in the mid-1800s. DNA also links us to the Lyon, Merritt, and Green families. But, The Stewarts want others to believe that not one of our ancestors were ever buried there??? Please…

The “Colored Cemetery” at Byram Cemetery

In my many blogposts on the “Byram African-American Cemetery,” I documented how our extended family felt upon learning about the desecration of our “Colored Cemetery.” We have been waiting for justice to be served for four years. We always KNEW The Stewarts didn’t have a case. I mean how do you abide by a Cease and Desist Order in 2014 after you desecrate the “Colored Cemetery,” then invite the descendants of people buried there into your home to discuss putting a plaque on tree in honor of the “Colored Cemetery,” and then wait over a year to file a lawsuit that denies the existence of the same cemetery? We won’t even discuss my epic 277-page response, three 1890 contemporary newspaper articles mentioning the first desecration of the “Colored Cemetery,” the 1901 dated, time-stamped, and accepted copy by the Town of Greenwich Clerk map, Historical Perspectives, Inc.’s documentary study, or all the letters written by my cousins which were submitted to the court as proof. If you are interested, you can read all the evidence here  (Docket#: FST-CV-17-6033549-S).

The Privileged Don’t Pay the Price, But Others Have to…

A lawyer friend asked me recently how I felt about the process that led to the settlement and what were the things that troubled or concerned me about the settlement? I told him that I did what I had to do to protect the rights of my ancestors to rest in peace and not be erased from history. That being said, while I am happy about the outcome, I do feel that the Stewarts and the Town are now able to just walk away and both entities act like everything was done for “due diligence” and can say “let bygones be bygones.” They can easily both “go home with footballs,” as Attorney Marcus stated in the Greenwich Time newspaper on 8/11/18. Obviously, they never considered the racial and class dynamics that were being perpetuated in prime time that were no different from what my ancestors experienced. They had the power once again to deny us everything and that was not lost on us —not for one second, one minute, one hour, one day, one year nor for centuries.

Meanwhile, I am battle-worn, battle-scared, and suffering from PSTD feeling like I was forced against my will to run thousands of miles to the top of a mountain and now some people feel that I should run down the other side of the mountain immediately when I am physically and mentally exhausted. No, that is not going to happen. I need time to deal with the past two years and especially the past 8 months. I don’t have the luxury to just walk away now, as others apparently do, because my ancestors CHOSE ME to be their unified voice to articulate their pain, loud and clear, with my head held high…just like they showed us all when they walked towards freedom. It was a burden I willingly carried and I did it to protect my ancestor’s burial site and elucidate their RADIANT lived history that should NEVER be erased. I need time to breathe clean air again and re-charge my batteries. I would like to think that I’m like Timex and can take a lickin and keep on tickin,” but I’m not. Vegatron does have her limits. Don’t worry. I will be just fine in the end. His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.

Both The Stewarts and The Town’s Law Department put my family under tremendous, unnecessary stress. The Stewarts knew it was a cemetery from the beginning. The Town did not follow proper procedures in acquiring abandoned cemeteries. Both entities threw The Stewarts’ wealth in our faces like hot bricks just out the fire. The “no disparagement clause” in the settlement is for their mutual benefit. At no point, have they even offered an apology to my family —not privately, not publicly. Though that is something I know they would never do and I am not holding my breath for, it’s those little things that sometimes matter most.

My family and I worked out our issues with The Town in early April and this has allowed us to move forward. From the beginning until present, The Town said, and now will do, what they said they would do when they actually acquired the abandoned cemeteries. Our family will be active partners with the Town going forward to create a historic “Colored Cemetery”. However, The Stewarts are another matter. As of today, there will be NO Kumbaya moment. I want nothing to do with people who have no integrity and show no respect for the sacred resting spaces of others.

There are NO Statutes of Limitation on Historic Trauma/Historic Erasure

Desecrating an ancestral burial ground for greed is traumatic. Arguing that we must excavate our ancestors to satisfy that greed and morbid curiosity is traumatic. Denying that our ancestors ever existed and trying to erase their physical presence in this world is traumatic. It is traumatic because you KNOW that slavery was never designed for Native-and African-American family reunification. It was designed to sever the ties that bind. And then, here we were in 2016 and just as we located our oldest ancestors, we found out that the couple, who made our ancient burial ground into their front lawn, tried to use us against The Town. You realize that had you not had Guardian Angels in Greenwich who immedately notified you of The Town’s actions, they would have gone with the photos you sent them, selfies included, with the letter you unknowingly wrote in their favor to the Town of Greenwich meeting on 9/22/2016 and act like they had secured the approval of the descedants of the enslaved/formerly enslaved buried there. Duplicity in action!

I strongly feel that The Stewarts need to be held accountable for their actions that led them to desecrate our burial ground. Two years ago, I wrote that no one should expect us to be neutral on this matter and we meant it. Since Section 34 was part of their lawsuit— though the “Colored Cemetery” has been in existence for centuries as part of Byram Cemetery — and is now forever etched in our collective memory, we will continue to tell the truth that their lawsuit was an obvious land grab to increase the value of their waterfront property. It was also a racist lawsuit since they could have argued their case without mentioning race in the first place. They are the ones who DECIDED to go there and WENT there! We are the ones who always told the truth.

 

Jeffrey M. Stewart et. al. v. The Town of Greenwich 

 

August 28, 2016 Is The Day Our Ancestors Decided This Very Outcome

The Stewarts made several wrong assumptions back in 2016. 1) That we would not know anyone in Greenwich because we didn’t live there. 2) That we weren’t educated and couldn’t detect the gaping holes in their story on Day1; 3) That we would never be united with our Lyon cousins. Our ancestors, on both sides of the color line, decided that would not be the case. They chose me on that day to repeatedly ask the all important question which was “If no one owns the land as you indicated by doing a deed history search, then why are you following a Cease and Desist letter?” Our ancestors chose my cousins Pat and Eddie to bare witness on that particular day, too.

I believe in many things. I believe that that my God is an awesome God who loves everyone unconditionaly. I believe that in my Father’s house there are many mansions. I believe that my ancestors are with me wherever I go. I believe that death is but a necessary happenstance. I believe that there is no shelf-life in the Hereafter and that, as descedants of originally enslaved people, family reunification happens automatically upon transitioning — even if it never happened during our years on Earth. I believe in the power of God to direct my path. Like Assata Shakur, ”I believe in living, I believe in birth, I believe in the sweat of love and in the fire of truth and I believe that a lost ship, steered by tired, sea sick sailors, can still be guided home to port.” On August 28, 2016, I KNOW my ancestors guided me to THEIR ancient burial ground here on Earth to help guarantee that our side of the family would be represented at the September 22,2016 meeting alongside our Lyon kin.  A family UNITED will never be DEFEATED. My cousins and I will continue to make them proud.
We are the Lyon-Green-Merritts

 

My Research Is My Therapy: Next Up On the Agenda

I will be contiinuing my research to get state and federal recognition for the Green-Twachtman House — the house my 3rd great-grandfather built in 1845 at 30 Round Hill Road (Hangroot) —as a confirmed UGRR site. My 3rd great-grandmother, Mary Johnson, was a self-emancipated woman who arrived in Greenwich, CT in the mid-1820s from Virginia.

In Closing…His Eye Is On the Sparrow and I KNOW he watches ME

Let it be forever known that I am the daughter of Joyce Greene Vega, the granddaughter of Richard W. Greene, Jr., the great-granddaughter of Richard W. Green, Sr., the great-great granddaughter of George E. Green, the great-great-great granddaughter of Allen and Mary Green, and the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Anthony and Peg Green.

I’m going to leave this Walter Hawkins video right here so I can go back to singing amd shouting! We got the VICTORY! 

 
 
#DaughterOfJoyceGreeneVega #BaptizedInMessiahBaptistChurchByRevMichaelWayneWalkerIn1981 #80LegionParkwayBrocktonMA

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