Welcome to The Sankofa Projects blogspot!!!

"In the spirit of SANKOFA...Reach Back and Fetch your history & your culture so that you will take purposeful steps into the future."

~ Chadra Pittman Walke, Founder & Executive Director

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

BBDLW Reunion & Weyanoke Coming Together Day

On Friday, August 10th after over a year of planning by my mother, Cecelia White Pittman and my cousin Mose Ball, we had our first ever Bell, Ball, Dancy, Lewis White Family reunion in Newport News, Virginia.

This BBDLW brought together 5 families who are all connected by a common ancestor Harriet Jones. We have traced our family history back 189 years to Harriett Jones who was born in 1819 and bore 5 sons. Harriet gave all her sons the last names of their fathers which is the reason why we 5 families know we are related today.

My mother after many weeks of preparation ran herself ragged and could not attend the 1st night's activities. She was missed but family stepped and registered family and we got everyone fed and singing karaoke and line dancing until 11:00 p.m.

Saturday morning, I conducted a Genealogy workshop where we talked about the construction of race, tracing lineage, our Native and African roots. We spoke about our common ancestor Harriett and talked about race relations during that time as her 1st child was born and fathered by a European man at the age of 15 years old. Was that relationship consensual? Was Harriet enslaved? Was Harriett raped?

That afternoon, I went to the Weyanoke's Association, Coming Together Day in Charles City County in Virginia. It was an amazing event under the tall pine trees of the Fish Hatchery, we were smudged with sage and then were lead in by Mr. Harrell and Mrs. Harrell, Founders of the Weyanoke Association, as they sang a traditional African Native song and chant.

There were lectures and singing and drumming. I gave a lecture on the importance of Remembering our Ancestors and the June 9th ritual at Buckroe Beach. I spoke of the importance honoring our ancestors and the importance of the youth the work of our ancestors forward.

We had a banquet Saturday night and danced the night away. We saw how incredibly talented our family is with the poems read and performed, the beautiful singing as her background dancers we lovingly named the Pips, we honored our eldest relative who is 99 years young.

We ended the reunion with a church service and a lunch where we signed volunteer registrations for President Obama's 2012 campaign and took pictures to send in to them campaign.

It was a beautiful weekend as we met new family , reconnected with family we know yet haven't seen in a while. In the spirit of sankofa, we must look back before we can move forward. I am grateful for all these new people in my life, my family whom I did not know before this weekend yet I grew to love them by the time the weekend was over. I so look forward to seeing them again soon!

If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to talk with your family members and plan a family reunion. Touch your roots and know the rich history you come from. You will be glad you did!

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