A Friend Of Friends: Lessons From The Underground Railroad #TALIAFERRO

By sjtaliaferro

One night during the holidays I watched one of my favorite movies, Roots: The Gift. The movie stars LeVar Burton and Louis Gossett, Jr., in their roles as Kunta Kinte and Fiddler from the television series Roots. In this movie, Kunta and Fiddler accompany their owner to another plantation at Christmas time for a party, and become involved in a plan to help some runaway slaves escape via the Underground Railroad to freedom. A simple, yet powerful story. There are many messages and lessons to be learned from Roots: The Gift.

In one of my favorite scenes, Fiddler and Kunta are helping the group of runaway slaves get to the river where they are to meet a boat that will take them further on their journey to freedom. Along the way they make a stop to pick up other “passengers” on the Underground Railroad. When they come to a farmhouse, Kunta approaches and knocks. The man asks…”who goes”? Kunta responds “Friend of Friends”…in acknowledgment, the man replies “Friend of Friends”. A group of “passengers” exit the house. Kunta, Fiddler, and the group continue their journey.

This year, I was particularly moved by the Underground Railroad scene, and even more so by the phrase uttered by Kunta- Friend of Friends. The phrase, and variations of it, was used along the Underground Railroad as a password or signal to those assisting runaway slaves on their journey North…to freedom. The traditional response to the “who goes there” password is said to have been “A Friend of a Friend”.

A Friend of Friends. Say it… A Friend of Friends, again…A Friend of Friends. It evokes such a comforting, welcoming feeling. A feeling of trust, of sharing, of caring, of kindness, […]

#DREAMFORWARD Call To Action: Congressman John LEWIS, 1961 Freedom Rider

Congressman John LewisCongressman John LEWIS, 1961 Freedom Rider:

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr., stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, turning it into a modern-day pulpit. He saw an America where men and women of all colors would be loved equally as God’s children. He invited us to not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ We have come a long way in these fifty years, but we are not there yet. We need to find ways to share our common humanity, instead of finding differences to divide us. I am encouraged by #DREAMFORWARD’s efforts to reaffirm Dr. King’s Dream for the future. I hope young people are inspired by this observance to choose the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence. Young people are the future, and more than ever before, we need them to be unafraid to stand up for what is right, to speak up and speak out, to get in the way and to cause some good trouble in the name of a better America. We must dare to carry the dream of a world that is more fair and more just. If we do those things, if we keep the faith and keep our eyes on the prize, we can advance Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream in 2014 and beyond.”



DREAMFORWARD Inspiration #2Be open to whatever comes next… #DREAMFORWARD

Image Source: Dina Wakley

DREAMFORWARD: Dr. Martin Luther KING Jr. | 15 January 2014

Dr. Martin Luther KING Jr. “So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream…”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

#DREAMFORWARD | 15 January 2014


HAPPY THANKSGIVING: What’s Luckie & AAGSAR Got Cooking?!:)

Martin Luther King Jr. ~ SERVICE

After the passing of my Mom, Geraldine BARWICK on August 5th to Alzheimer’s Disease, I returned online to the genealogy research so dear to my heart.

I also created the African American Genealogy and Slave Ancestry Research Community via Facebook, a collaborative work-group where we work 1:1 with up to 200 researchers of slave ancestry descent. AAGSAR’s primary goals: 1.) acclimate African American researchers to the smart technology tools capable of advancing their research, 2.) share core best practices and techniques to hone research skills and 3.) support researchers in migrating their family history online.

It’s been a FUN albeit AMAZINGLY CHALLENGING 3.5 months! Here’s just a “taste” of what’s brewing in our virtual kitchen!:)

6TH EDITION Carnival of African American Genealogy ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. #DREAMFORWARD

6TH EDITION Carnival of African American Genealogy

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. #DREAMFORWARD
Wednesday, 15th January 2014 in observance of Dr. King’s Birthday!

All Races & Ages ― One Common Purpose



“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ― MLK Jr.

We’ve Run Revival & Oh What a Time We Had!:)

Jackson A.M.E. Church ~ Wilkes County, GARecently via the AAGSAR Facebook forum, Marci asked me how my family felt about my research. My response was brief and what I believed honest — “they don’t really appreciate it much until I’m not doing it”. How wrong I was!

REBIRTH: It’s Time For Revival was not only SOUL FORTIFYING for this Mama-missing, Buddhist gal, it was Spirit Therapy for my children and family too!:)

The kids, who’ve missed the kinship I grew up with, have been surrounded by it in the weeks leading up to REBIRTH! They’ve heard me singing the Gospel, learned about our family church homes and spiritual customs, and witnessed me reaching for His Eye Is On The Sparrow and Precious Lord time after time, claiming the refuge they have always offered me.

The response to Journeying By Faith from Uncle Jake’s namesake, cousin Ronnie Jr., moved me beyond words!

Bernita of Voice In My Head shared her family’s excitement with the forum, expressing her Mom’s sentiments as she enjoyed reading all the REBIRTH entries and Joann of J-Mac’s Journey was busy sharing our Revival and Aunt Mary with her family AND Co-workers!

5th Edition Carnival of African American Genealogy (CoAAG) ~ REBIRTH: It’s Time For Revival!

Photograph of baptismal service, Wilkes County, Georgia, 1913

re·birth rēˈbərTH,ˈrēˌbərTH/ noun noun: rebirth; noun: re-birth
1. the process of being reincarnated or born again. “the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth”


Those who know me outside my Ancestor work, can attest to the fact I never intended to return online to research my family’s genealogy. There were no plans to resurrect blogs or as beautiful an experience it was/is, the Carnival of African American Genealogy (CoAAG). Never could anyone have convinced me I’d be managing a genealogy forum via Facebook — my least favorite social platform!

Over the years I’ve learned to follow the Ancestors whispers and nudges without question. And those spirit prompts have brought me here. Some days teacher — equal days student! I’ve returned to challenge, and be challenged; to help and be helped. To be healed because life’s journey is ahead of me.

Though I didn’t really want it, I’m thankful the Ancestors laid this 5th Edition of CoAAG in my hands. It’s soothed me on days when my feathers were ruffled and my heart cracked a bit wider from the absence of Mama. It’s fortified me, summoning memories and Gospel melodies I didn’t realize I still had in me.

This new life experience, has without question been an Awakening and I can think of no better way to bless it, than by […]

5th Edition Carnival of African American Genealogy ~ REBIRTH: Journeying By Faith

Saint Paul A.M.E. Church ~ 27 January 1980Journeying By Faith

“…Shall we permit adverse winds to overwhelm us as we journey across life’s mighty roads, or will our inner spiritual jets sustain us in spite of the winds? Our refusal to be stopped, our courage to journey on, our determination to go on men of St. Paul in spite of, reveal the divine image within us. The man who has made this discovery knows that no burden can overwhelm him and no wind of adversity can blow his hope away. He can stand anything that can happen to him…”

~ Rev. Ronald M. JACKSON, Sr. {1941-1981}

My Great Uncle Jake was one of a kind! Growing up, we frequently got treated to assorted renditions of Uncle Jake’s antics as a young boy, performed by various family members!:)

Raised on Baymiller Street in Cincinnati, word from the family was long before Uncle Jake found Jesus, his cussing and mischief were legendary!

Though just 4 months her senior, Jake was Mom’s uncle; baby of the JACKSON clan – Harry, Fannie (my Grandmother), Marie, Theodore, Mitzi and Minnie.

He so loved and spoiled Mama, and she in return nicknamed him her yella flubba-dub, based on his tan complexion and propensity to keep a juicy mouth! And never being outdone, Uncle Jake often shared with us his belief living with the BARWICKS — my Grandparents Willie and Fannie, Mom and Uncle Walt, “turned him brown”!:)

Ronald JACKSON Sr.God […]

SENTIMENTAL SUNDAY: Zephyr SMITH SCOTT ~ Let The Gentle Wind Speak

Zephyr SMITH ~ Marshall, TXOn November 11th I received an email from Nahshon ANDERSON expressing interest in the upcoming 5th Edition Carnival of African American Genealogy (CoAAG) — REBIRTH: It’s Time For Revival!

Apparently while researching a short story regarding his Great Grandmother, Zephyr SMITH SCOTT (1899-1923), Nahshon *stumbled upon* the CoAAG Call for Submissions and believed the piece on Mrs. Zephyr to be a good fit.

For me, not so much.

Nahshon isn’t a member of AAGSAR nor to my knowledge, is he active in the online genealogy community. He doesn’t pen a blog and the piece on his Great Grandmother doesn’t quite capture the familiar, happy memory sentiments I’m hoping will resonate from our REBIRTH CoAAG.

But thankfully, Mrs. Zephyr hasn’t been so easy to dismiss! Today, for reasons I can’t even begin to explain, I knew she deserved a safe place to have her story shared…

The Lady Zephyr submitted by Nahshon ANDERSON

Curious about my family’s background, I started conducting genealogical research several years ago. The more I discovered the more I became obsessed with my Great Grandmother’s story who was raised in a Southern Baptist home.

Her name was Zephyr which means the west wind, a gentle breeze. Born in 1899 to Charles and Missouri SMITH,  she was raised in Marshall Texas on a farm with several brothers and […]