I have discussed quite a few African American genealogy blogs in several articles in the past two years.
Recently, a new blogging meme has surfaced across several genealogy blogs that do not normally focus on African American genealogy.
This meme is called “A Friend of Friends Friday.” Every Friday, genealogy bloggers are requested to post records of slaveowners that name their slaves.
The name “A Friend of Friends,” as Sandra Taliaferro writes in “A Friend Of Friends: Lessons From The Underground Railroad,” posted 15 January 2010 in her blog I Never Knew My Father, comes from the old TV movie, Roots: the Gift.
As she explains it,
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. …
The phrase, and the underlying concept, seems particularly appropriate and relevant for those of us in the genealogy community; aren’t we all on some level really just A Friend of Friends? Strangers helping strangers. Friends of friends with a common bond that ties us all together….the desire to know our ancestors, and to tell their stories. A common goal, with different methods, different paths that cross and intersect along the journey. As we travel this road to uncovering our ancestors and their stories we should all embrace the concept…we should be A Friend of Friends. Don’t be afraid or reluctant to share, to care, to guide, or to assist your fellow researcher along their journey.
As an African American researcher my task is two-fold; I research my family, but inevitably I must also research the family of my ancestor’s slave holders if I want to know more about my roots. Often we must seek information (assistance) from those that we do not know to aid us on our journey. It is an unavoidable truth – the descendants of our ancestor’s slave holding families may hold the key to our enslaved ancestor’s past. Slavery is an ugly truth of our shared history. I am not angry with you because your ancestor held my ancestor as a slave; don’t be angry with me because I seek those records that may shed more light on the lives of my people, and help me to tell their story more completely. Some who were members of slave holding families assisted passengers along the Underground Railroad. I challenge you to be A Friend of Friends.
The website’s “About” page describes its mission, “A Friend of Friends website is a repository for documents donated and shared through the concept and ideals behind a movement that is spreading throughout the genealogy community. … It is intended as a place where descendants of slave owners, and other holders of slave-related documents, can share that information with their fellow African American researchers and family historians.” Unfortunately, the site has not been active since 19 April 2010.
However, it has been reborn of late by the blogging theme, “A Friend of Friends Friday.” I would like to invite all bloggers to participate in this meme, and everyone else to read the existing blog post. For more examples, please visit the Geneabloggers shared Google Reader list.