Supervisor Carson Presents 'Family Journeys,' celebrating African American families, Bay Area Black History

Are Blacks leaving the Bay Area? San Francisco's Black population has dropped to 3.9 percent, according to recent Census data.

The Bay Area is a vital aspect of our collective history, yet many youth are not familiar with the story of their ancestors. Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson is organizing a unique Black History Month event on Saturday, February 19 at the Black Repertory Theater in Berkeley.

Family Journeys: The Migration of African Americans to the Bay Area and Intergenerational Dialogue will feature an informative panel discussion where audience members will learn about the Great Migration and the contributions of African Americans to the Bay Area. They will hear the stories of the men and women who arrived to work in the shipyards and stayed to raise families, worship and create a flourishing and diverse community and Bay Area history.

Panelists include: Professor Dr. Oba T'Shaka, former Chair of the Africana Studies Department at San Francisco State University; Pastor Dr. Martha Taylor, Elmhurst Presbyterian Church; and Betty Reid Soskin, Outreach Specialist at Rosie the Riveter WWII/Home Front National Historical Park. The panel will be moderated by Davey D of Hard Knock Radio.

Following the panel, audience members will have the opportunity to participate in an intergenerational breakout session in which youth and elders will listen to each other and absorb knowledge about family histories and African American culture. Youth participants have been invited from the Berkeley High School African American Studies Department, McClymonds High School Culture Keepers, Beyond Emancipation, Berkeley Youth Alternatives, East Oakland Youth Development Center and Leadership Excellence.

In addition to the discussion, the goal is to make certain that African Americans in Alameda County receive the resources and information they need to research and create their own family tree. Audience members will learn about the Regional Family Resource Center and how to research their own ancestry online, with genealogy software, at libraries and with County resources.

The Family Journeys event will kick off a semester-long project that will introduce high school youth to the study of genealogy and get them excited about documenting their own family histories. With the help of experts from the African American Genealogy Society of Northern California, the youth will learn about research tools and resources, interviewing their relatives, and documenting their findings with web and video tools. Each student will produce their own family tree and tell the story of their ancestors through pictures, documents and video. The results will be presented in a final event in May that will showcase the youth projects front and center.

Family Journeys is being sponsored by Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, The Socially Responsible Network, The California NAACP and The Oakland Black Firefighters Association.

Images: Top, Safero; right, Flickr user Omega418.

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