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JUSTICE FOR TRAYVON:
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton
Fate has a way of forcing razor-sharp turns in our lives, and Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, parents of slain teen Trayvon Martin, are dealing with the ultimate challenge. Within a week of the acquittal of the man who pulled the trigger on that rainy Florida evening, and though many would crumble under the weight of despair, they continued to turn their pain into a pointed argument for justice. Vaulted into a national debate over the issues of racial profiling, gun violence and “Stand Your Ground” laws, Martin and Fulton are buoyed by the wave of public empathy and rallies taking place around the country; they gain strength and conviction with each heavy step they take.
The pair agreed to meet with EBONY, along with their attorney and advocate Benjamin L. Crump, on a sweltering morning in New York City, just days after the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Ironically, our interview and cover shoot took place in the same hotel suite where a newly elected president Barack Obama stayed at the dawn of his first term in office, and on the same day of his very personal address on race in America. In those remarks, the president poignantly identified with the plight of young African-American men when he stated, “You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago. There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.”
But on this day, the room held a different energy. Obama’s post-electoral elation yielded to a family’s desires to make sense of a senseless tragedy. Holding firm to their convictions, they still seek to properly honor the memory of their son and to ensure the survival of all our children.
Read more in the September issue of EBONY
© 2013 EB
Trayvon Martin’s mother: Verdict will ‘not define’ who my son was
Aliyah Frumin // 4:50 PM on 07/26/2013
Speaking at the National Urban League’s conference in Philadelphia, Sybrina Fulton says, “Please use my story. Please use my tragedy to say to yourself we cannot let this happen to anybody else’s child.”
Sybrina Fulton, the mother of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin, hopes her tragedy will prevent others from having to endure the pain she has gone through.
Fulton made the remarks at the National Urban League’s annual conference on Friday in Philadelphia.
“Please use my story. Please use my tragedy. Please use my broken heart to say to yourself: We cannot let this happen to anybody else’s child,” she told the crowd.
She also said she supports a federal investigation into the case of George Zimmerman, a former volunteer neighborhood watchman who shot and killed Martin in February 2012. He was found not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter and said he acted in self-defense.
Fulton also spoke about the Trayvon Martin foundation and how she will continue to be an advocate for her son.
“At times I feel like I’m a broken vessel. At times, I don’t’ know if I’m going or coming. But I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is using me and God is using my family to make a change, to make a difference,” she said, adding “The verdict is not going to define who Trayvon Martin was. We will define his legacy.”
Watch Fulton’s remarks above.
Were My Enslaved Forebears From Angola?
Tracing Your Roots: A DNA test leads to questions, and a search for answers in historical records.
By Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Jason Amos, NEHGS Researcher
Updated Friday, June 21, 2013, at 8:57 PM
(The Root) –
“My father’s family just got our African-Ancestry test back, and on our matrilineal side, we were traced to Angola. I was shocked, because I was under the impression that most slaves from Angola ended up elsewhere in the Americas, not in the United States. I’d like to know the percentage of Angolans that ended up in the U.S. What was their typical point of entry? Do you have any info about genealogy records that might help me establish Angolan ties? –Diamond Sharp
You had your mitochondrial DNA tested. Mitochondrial DNA is passed down from a mother to her children, so this test traces a person’s mother’s mother’s mother’s line, back for generations. All children inherit this identical genetic signature from their mothers, but only daughters pass it down from generation to generation. Accordingly, it is an ideal way to trace the maternal branch of a person’s family back hundreds, even thousands, of years.
One of the biggest surprises about the history of the slave trade to the United States is the high percentage of our ancestors who were shipped to this country from Angola. African Americans have traditionally thought of Ghana and Senegal as our most common ancestral homes on the African continent, but almost half of all of the slaves arriving in this country were shipped here from two sources: Senegambia, yes, but also, Angola.
The slave trade from Angola to the New World began in the 16th century and continued (illegally) until 1860. It is estimated that, incredibly, there were more than 5 million slaves who came to the Western Hemisphere from Angola; more than half went to Brazil. Far fewer, in terms of absolute numbers, came to the U.S. (since the U.S. received dramatically fewer numbers of slaves than did Brazil, or even Haiti or Cuba or Jamaica, for instance). But the percentage from Angola was comparatively high.
According to historians Linda Heywood and John Thornton, we know that the first “20 and odd” Africans imported into Virginia in 1619 came from Angola. In fact, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, of the 388,000 Africans who landed in the various ports in North America over the entire course of the slave trade, 24 percent, or about 93,000 of them, came from Angola. In other words, an African American has about a one in four chance of being descended from these Central Africans.
It is possible that your Angolan maternal ancestor arrived in Virginia or New York or at another major port such as Charleston or New Orleans between 1619 and 1807. But the first ship that brought the Angolans to Virginia was the White Lion, whose crew captured a Spanish slave ship, the Sao Joao de Bautista, and took some of the slaves it was carrying to Cartagena, Colombia.
In 1808, the U.S. government made the importation of slaves into America illegal, but the illegal slave trade brought in many Angolans after that. The selling and trading of slaves in domestic markets was still allowed. If you are able to trace your enslaved ancestors back to an original owner, it might be possible to find more information about your ancestors’ arrival.
Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is also editor-in-chief of The Root. Follow him on Twitter.
Send your questions about tracing your own roots to TracingYourRoots@theroot.com.
This answer was provided in consultation with researchers from New England Historic Genealogical Society. Founded in 1845, NEHGS is the country’s leading nonprofit resource for family history research. Its website, AmericanAncestors.org, contains more than 300 million searchable records for research in New England, New York and beyond. With the leading experts in the field, NEHGS staff can provide assistance and guidance for questions in most research areas. They can also be hired to conduct research on your family. Learn more today.
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