Archive for February 20th, 2021

BLACK PEOPLE O! -DNA TESTING HELPS BLACKS DISCOVER THEIR TO ANCESTRY O!

February 20, 2021

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By  Lisa Robinson    I-Team Reporter BALTIMORE — For many Black Americans, knowing their heritage has been difficult because of the slave trade. Over the years, many have gathered stories from family members, but the availability of kits that sequence DNA has led to knowledge Black Americans never previously had. For years, Melvin Collier has been researching where he comes from using census records, other documents and oral histories with older family members. When DNA testing became more widely available, he took advantage of it. Advertisement “I’ve tested my mother, my father, my aunts, uncles and other relatives,” Collier said. “(The results give) you things like, ‘Hey, you’re 30% Nigerian. Or, you’re 25% Ghana, from that region.’ It brings about a sense of belonging.” Nick Sheedy, the lead genealogist for the PBS show “Finding Your Roots with Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.,” said the accessibility of records and affordability of DNA testing has been huge in helping Black people uncover their stories. “You get names, you get particulars and I think that that helps foster a better understanding,” Sheedy said. “For African Americans, especially, these tools allow you to connect dots that we may never have been able to connect otherwise, especially the DNA.” He said it’s very emotional for many of the people they research. “Most of these people were probably held in slavery, so you always have that in the background, but to be able to document those ancestors, to put names to the relationships and to find them in slave records, especially, really helps to put those people into context,” Sheedy said. Through his research and DNA testing, Collier has really added to his family tree, and the reunions are getting bigger and bigger. “It gives you a great sense of identity, you identify more with your African roots,” Collier said.


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