Sandra Taliaferro

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, […]

A Simple Promise to Sandra – Happy New Year!:)

I was in my car on February 15, 2013 when I learned via a Genea-Traveler email from Felicia of Echoes of My Nola Past, Sandra TALIAFERRO had passed. It took my breath away. San and I hadn’t spoken in a long time. Too long really. I didn’t even realize Sandra had been ill.

Though the heaviness of her passing followed me for days, I couldn’t help feeling San was finally free. I could see her interviewing the TALIAFERRO and MIDDLEBROOKS Ancestors she’d spent countless hours searching for. I could see her getting to know her daddy, John Lawrence TALIAFERRO and reuniting with her Mama, Lillian MIDDLEBROOKS who passed on September 27, 2009 — San’s birthday.

I could see her walking and exploring and if she felt like it — probably running!:)

Many don’t know Sandra spent almost 45 years in a wheelchair. In route to student orientation on her first day of college at Clark Atlanta University, Sandra and friends were in a terrible car accident that nearly took her life. In spite of her physical constraints, Sandra rose — in every possible way.

Sandra TALIAFERRO was as stubborn as a mule, but she was truly amazing too! I hope she knows that now. So in October when San came and sat on my shoulders to say something had to be done to prevent her research from being lost, I knew better than to ignore her!:)

The timing stunk! I’d just loss Mama 8/5 and started AAGSAR 8/15. Small gestures of attempting to pay for her I Never Knew My Father domain or rescue research […]

TALIAFERRO FLASHBACK: A Call To Action For African American Researchers ~ 2 March 2010

Original post: 2 March 2010 Sandra TALIAFERRO of I Never Knew My Father (archived)

My friend Luckie Daniels of Our Georgia Roots, has written another thought provoking Monday Madness post, this time to the African American Genealogy CommunityMadness Monday: The Digital Divide Revisited ~ Tough Love For The African-American Genealogy Community.  After commenting on Luckie’s post, I realized I had actually written my next post.  Yes, I could have let that suffice, but I felt I needed to show my support for and belief in Luckie’s position here on my blog.  So often, we sit back in the amen corner bowing our heads up and down in agreement, but never speak-up and take a stance. I wanted to echo Luckie’s sentiments. My comment to her did that, and posting it here reiterates it. There needs to be some serious changes in the African American genealogy community; those changes need to occur sooner, rather than later before we are standing in the shadows as the online genea-community moves forward.

Thank you Luckie for a very timely and long overdue post.  How sad it was to hear people who have been researching their family history for years stand up in a meeting and ask for help, but they are not on the internet, don’t like, won’t do it. There are so any resources out there, and many connections to make, but you won’t find them in your living room or in the archives.  Genealogy is changing, and the African American community of researchers must change with it. And, it’s not only in genealogy. As another comment so appropriately pointed out, we are missing a wealth […]

Cousin Musings: The Savannah Gang 2010 ~ Sandra, Felicia, Mavis & Luckie!:)

Sweet memories! I miss you San!:)

TheSavannahGang

30 August 2009: Clueless ~ The TALIAFERRO PROJECT

The TALIAFERRO Project, a community act of kindness to honor and preserve the family research efforts of our cousin, Sandra TALIAFERRO.

Myself along with other genealogy contributors will work to “repost” blog entries of San’s originally shared via her “I Never Knew My Father” genealogy blog (now offline).

Sandra didn’t leave behind children or family to inherit her research legacy. In every way, this body of work was her lifeline and that work is unfinished with open questions to answer.

The best homage we can pay Sandra, is the commitment and willingness to continue connecting the dots on her behalf.

The TALIAFERRO Project

*******

By sjtaliaferro

Well, here I go; I am finally taking that leap into the world of genealogy blogs. I am Clueless. Over the past months I have come to see genealogy, African American Genealogy in particular, in a whole new light. Who knew all of you were out there, researching and blogging away…I was Clueless. But, I have been following many of you religiously over the past month or so with great interest and delight. Along with researching, reading genealogy blogs became a new favorite pastime. I have been inspired by your words, research techniques, knowledge, willingness to help others and, above all, your desire to tell the stories of your ancestors. Thanks to all of you who are out there sharing your journey. I want to say a special thanks to my “cousin” Luckie Daniels who unknowingly influenced my decision to take this next step in my research. I am totally addicted to your Our Georgia Roots!

Being the ultimate procrastinator I could […]

Thinking on Sandra…

Luckie & Sandra - Wilkes County, GA April 2010
Yesterday was Sandra Jean Taliaferro’s birthday.

Sandra was as stubborn, fiery and brilliant as they come! A master with the pen and an impeccable researcher, she was sister, cousin, confidant to me.

We shared several arguments, endless laughs and most likely more than one ASKEW-JACKSON-DORSEY Ancestor between us.

I was reminded yesterday of our April 2010 road trip to GREENE County, where local response to my on display tattoos brought us to tears , Sandra ‘ate crow’ when I demonstrated the art of gleaning intel from COMPLETE strangers in a country town, and how we celebrated being led to a small church graveyard by new friend Minister Baugh, where we discovered MANY of San’s Ancestors! Tears, tweets and pictures were flying!:)

We miss you San. I miss you San.

Should you decide to enlist us to finish tracking your/our GREENE and FULTON County Ancestors, we will be ready!:)

Sandra Jean Taliaferro
Sept. 27, 1952 – Feb. 12, 2013

Sandra’s SURNAMES: Taliaferro, Toliver, Lawrence, Brewer, Askew, Dorsey, Jackson, Poole, Butler, Allen, Gilbert, Crawford, Middlebrooks, Gates, Parks, Thompson, Alford, Favors, Guise, and related surnames