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Author Pam Bailey’s Ancestry Search Led to First Time Reunion with Close Family in South Florida

THE WESTSIDE GAZETTE — America’s dark tragic past with African Americans through slavery, reconstruction and Jim Crow laws led to many families being forcibly torn apart with very little chances of reconciliation. That forced separation by a racist system set on destroying any form of family for Black Americans has caused many people to wonder where their families actually come from.

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Bailey found several members of the Miami Green family were DNA matches to her. Dr. Green was unaware of any SC ancestral connection. Bailey’s family, who shares biological connection to the Florida Greens and Lawrences, were enslaved in Clarendon County, South

By Janey Tate

MIAMI, FL — America’s dark tragic past with African Americans through slavery, reconstruction and Jim Crow laws led to many families being forcibly torn apart with very little chances of reconciliation. That forced separation by a racist system set on destroying any form of family for Black Americans has caused many people to wonder where their families actually come from.

This question is what caused Pamela J. Bailey, an author and adjunct professor from Dallas, to begin the complicated search to learn where her ancestors are from and where their off springs live today.

“My family was forced to migrate during the Antebellum period of the slave trade. We put a lot of focus, which is important, on the transatlantic slave trade. However, there were so many people who were American born between 1810 and 1860 that were relocated all over this country and those bonds were broken,” Bailey said.

She began researching her family on both sides ten years ago, but in 2017 started to make strong headway. She took a DNA test by Ancestry.com and used GEDmatch and Social Media to connect her family tree. After countless hours of research, Bailey was led to three of her closely related cousins here in South Florida. That led to a family reunion on August 3, 2019 in South Miami.

Her first major connection was to her cousin Phylis Lawson, who lives in Broward County. It began from Bailey randomly liking a Facebook page for a  book she thought was interesting. She later found out that the woman whose book she admired from afar was in fact her long lost cousin.

Lawson is the author of a book titled “Quilt of Souls.” Bailey was intrigued that Lawson had built this story around former enslaved people who were quilting. Lawson said as a kid growing up in Alabama  she would sit under the porch when it was scorching hot and listen to older people tell stories about slavery and Jim Crow.

“I thought that was fascinating so I liked her book on Facebook and we became friends. It wasn’t until two or more years later that I was in that GEDmatch DNA database, and I was sorta looking through it to see if anything looks familiar. And people would leave their email addresses and one of the email addresses was quiltofsouls@gmail.com,” Bailey said.

She knew that name matched the book she was a fan of and sparked her curiosity to ask Lawson about their possible family connection, so she messaged her on Facebook.

“I said look, I know this sounds really wild but I think we’re family. I think that your family might be connected to my family from South Carolina. And so her initial response was I don’t’ have any family from South Carolina. My family is from Alabama and have been there for generations,” said Bailey of the Facebook conversation.

She later would get multiple excited messages from Lawson in the middle of the night. Lawson told Bailey that she had done some of her own research after they spoke and discovered they were in fact related through her mother from a relative named Josh Horn. He was a former slave that was interviewed as a part of the Federal Writers Project. Bailey knew Horn was her relative and that this was in fact a true match.

The second person Bailey connected with was her cousin Dr. Carey Green, a heart specialist in Miami.

“When I reached out to Carey, there were several people in his family, including his brother and a nephew who I was connected to biologically,” said Bailey. “Carey had no idea that there were any connections to South Carolina [in his family].”

Bailey explained their connection is through her family in Clarendon County. Her Green family branch comes from here, which is her connection to Dr. Green. They discovered that they both have relatives with the name Sipio from South Carolina. Their ancestors were forcibly split apart by their slave owner Pierce Mease Butler, who held the largest sale of slaves of more than 600 people at a race track in Savannah, Georgia in 1850. That sale was called “the Weeping Time” by reporters of the time who covered the event. Part of their family was sold and sent to the El Destino Plantation in the Florida panhandle, which is where Green said his family is from.

The third connection Bailey made was to Jean Jackson and her daughter Cherria Brown. They discovered they were related through their Dewitt family members, who were owned by German slave owners of the same name who lived in Horry County, which is home to Myrtle Beach.

“The most striking thing was they look so much like parts of family in South Carolina that it just kinda took me aback. I thought they are definitely my family,” said Bailey.

Jackson and Brown had been doing their own research on their family tree, and there was a missing part of the family they couldn’t find. When they connected with Bailey they learned that missing family branch was through her grandmother, Isla Henrietta Dewitt.

All of Bailey’s family members met at Dr. Green’s medical office in South Miami on a Saturday morning this Summer. Bailey said before the meeting she was very anxious.

“I remember walking through the door and I felt myself get emotional. I walked in and it was just a lot. I was excited and on the verge of tears. They were excited too,” Bailey said. “There were lots of hugs.”

“Every single person just felt like family. They were happy to meet me. They were happy to have this history restored. They want to be known to the parts of the family that has been scattered. And so now we’re talking about ways that we can get together so we can bring these various parts of the family together because it would be my ancestors’ wildest dreams. It’s not something they could have ever imagined,” Bailey said.

Although all the families are related to Bailey on her mother or father’s side of the family, they’re not necessarily related to each other. Bailey explained that the DNA testing matches for people who are related at least 5th cousin or closer to you. Even though they are not all directly related, Bailey said they still connected and talked for hours over lunch about their lives and what each branch of the family was up to.

Pamela J. Bailey, originally from Mullins, South Carolina, is married and has two children. She moved to Dallas ten years ago and wrote a book titled “Sanctuary: Creating a Blessed Place to Live and Love.” She has taught at a private college in Dallas for the past 4 years as an adjunct professor and has her own production company called Blue Rose Media Company, where she produces content on Black Ancestry in the United States.

Bailey said her Big Family Search Project will guide her new creative projects and the type of content she shares.

“I realized this is the responsibility that I’ve been given,” said Bailey. “I can’t help but to believe that God has a way and maybe those ancestors who have gone on are doing everything they can do to help me make these connections.”

Bailey found several members of the Miami Green family were DNA matches to her. Dr. Green was unaware of any SC ancestral connection. Bailey’s family, who shares biological connection to the Florida Greens and Lawrences, were enslaved in Clarendon County, South.

Bailey and Jean Jackson (teal shirt) are both the great granddaughters of Daniel DeWitt who was enslaved in Horry County, South Carolina. Jean and her husband have raised a family of multigenerational entrepreneurs in Florida.

This article originally appeared in The Westside Gazette.

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PRESS ROOM: First Book, an Innovative Leader in Education Equity, Releases Groundbreaking Research Illustrating the Impact of COVID-19 on Emotional Wellness of Students in Underserved Communities

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Collaborating with First Book to provide educators with evidence-informed activities and curriculum is one more step forward in making sure they feel more prepared to support their students,” said Ariana Hoet, Ph.D., clinical director of On Our Sleeves and pediatric psychologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “Educators have been on the frontline supporting children’s mental health before and throughout the pandemic with limited resources. We know the pandemic has exacerbated worries around children’s mental health, so this need is even more crucial than ever.”

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Nearly One Thousand Educators Participated; Report that over half (53%) of the students they serve struggle with their mental health

WASHINGTON, First Book, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring education equity for children living in poverty, today announced the results of a national survey designed to identify emotional wellness challenges faced by school-age children. In addition to reinforcing earlier findings regarding the devastating mental health effects of COVID-19, this survey shed new light on the severity of this impact — especially in communities of need. It also established that emotional wellness issues have become a significant barrier to education for many students who attend schools in these communities – a majority of whom are children of color. Pediatric psychologists from Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s On Our Sleeves movement for children’s mental health partnered with First Book to offer a clinical perspective on survey questions and process.

In the new survey findings, educators report that 53 percent of the students they serve struggle with their mental health and only 20 percent of educators feel prepared to support the mental well-being of their students. Of significant concern, 98 percent of educators say mental health challenges act as a barrier to children’s education. And notably, educators are facing their own mental health challenges. Student mental wellness issues have a ripple effect on educators who feel helpless and unsupported.

“Educators across the country are speaking out about the urgency of the mental wellness issues that their students are facing, how they don’t feel prepared to address the issues, and how those issues act as a barrier to learning. Based on what we’re hearing from our Network of educators, this is truly a crisis,” said Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO, First Book. “First Book is committed to supporting low-income communities that have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic and the data revealed in this survey is guiding us in providing educators with high-quality, research-driven tools to nurture emotional wellness and develop healthy habits that prepare students to not only learn but thrive.”

On an ongoing basis First Book solicits input from its Network of more than 525,000 educators – all of whom serve children in need – to enable the organization to directly address the needs of practitioners and the children they serve. Mental wellness was spotlighted as a critical problem exacerbated by COVID-19, leading the organization to design focus groups and a survey to better understand the magnitude and scope of the issue, as well as what is needed to address this barrier to education. Nearly 1,000 educators responded to the survey providing startling data. The results provided a framework for the resource, which is now available, entitled: Taking Care: An Educator Guide to Healthy Habits for Student Emotional Wellness, a free resource created in collaboration with On Our Sleeves. The resource and study are now available through First Book.

“Collaborating with First Book to provide educators with evidence-informed activities and curriculum is one more step forward in making sure they feel more prepared to support their students,” said Ariana Hoet, Ph.D., clinical director of On Our Sleeves and pediatric psychologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “Educators have been on the frontline supporting children’s mental health before and throughout the pandemic with limited resources. We know the pandemic has exacerbated worries around children’s mental health, so this need is even more crucial than ever.”

According to the First Book study, the top three life circumstances or experiences that contribute to children’s mental health challenges are 1) unstable or difficult home life; 2) hunger/food insecurity and 3) isolation due to Covid-19. Because these three factors often intersect as children grapple with returning to normalcy post-pandemic, the resources First Book provides to educators are essential tools for helping them become better equipped to aid students who are still dealing with the effects of Covid-related depression, trauma, loneliness, and loss.

First Book’s findings are particularly relevant given recent warnings issued by professional organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association. These groups have declared a national emergency in children’s mental health and have noted that psychological strains, made worse over the past few years by pandemic-associated isolation, anxiety, fear, and grief, have caused a crisis in several societal sectors including education. They also emphasize that children in communities of color have been disproportionately impacted due to previously unresolved inequities linked to structural racism.

Additional key findings in First Book’s survey include:

  • 72% of educators say the pandemic has introduced new mental health challenges among students/children;
  • 65% of educators report the pandemic has exacerbated the existing mental health challenges students already faced;
  • 80% of educators believe gaining access to mental health support is a high or emergency priority in relation to students’ overall needs at this time;
  • 98% of educators say mental health challenges act as a barrier to children’s education;
  • 93% of educators became aware that a student was struggling with mental health issues due to a noticeable change in behavior;
  • 92% of educators indicated they are very or extremely interested in accessing support resources focused on promoting the general mental health and well-being of all students;
  • 51% of educators report that a student’s race/racial identity is relevant to their mental health;
  • 68% of respondents indicate that they take a child’s race and/or culture into consideration when supporting their mental well-being (e.g. observe family/cultural norms, design a culturally inclusive curriculum, and foster open and trusting relationships with their students);
  • 74% of educators are very or extremely interested in accessing support resources to help them approach mental health challenges related to race, identity, and intersectionality;
  • Older children reportedly struggle more than younger children. Educators serving middle and high school students estimate that 59% and 60% (respectively) of the students they serve struggle with mental health, while early childhood and elementary educators estimate 50% and 52% (respectively) of their students struggle.  This compares to the general population at 53%;
  • Educators in urban and suburban communities consider addressing mental health as a stronger priority (83% high/emergency priority) vs. their rural counterparts (75% high/emergency priority).

About First Book

Founded in Washington, D.C., in 1992 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit social enterprise, First Book is a leader in the educational equity field. Over its 29-year history, First Book has distributed more than 200 million books and educational resources, with a retail value of more than $2 billion. First Book believes education offers children in need the best path out of poverty. First Book breaks down barriers to quality education by providing its Network of more than 525,000 registered teachers, librarians, after school program leaders, and others serving children in need with millions of free and affordable new, high-quality books, educational resources, and basic needs items through the award-winning First Book Marketplace nonprofit eCommerce site. The First Book Network comprises the largest and fastest-growing community of formal and informal educators serving children in need.

First Book also expands the breadth and depth of the education field through a family of social enterprises, including First Book Research & Insights, its proprietary research initiative, and the First Book Accelerator, which brings best-in-class research-based strategies to the classroom via relevant, usable educator resources. First Book Impact Funds target support to areas of need, such as rural communities or increasing diversity in children’s books. For more information about First Book, please visit http://www.firstbook.org.

About On Our Sleeves®

Children don’t wear their thoughts on their sleeves. With 1 in 5 children living with a significant mental health concern and half of all lifetime mental health concerns starting by age 14, we need to give them a voice. On Our Sleeves®, powered by behavioral health experts at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, aims to provide every community in America with free resources necessary for breaking child mental health stigmas and educating families and advocates, because no child or family should struggle alone.

Since the inception of On Our Sleeves® in 2018, more than 3 million people in every state across America have interacted with the movement’s free pediatric mental health educational resources at OnOurSleeves.org and educator curricula have reached more than four of five classrooms across the United States.

To schedule an interview with a spokesperson for First Book, please contact Ian Kenison at ikenison@firstbook.org.

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Moore Brown: Maryland Set to Have Two Black Statewide Officials

NNPA NEWSWIRE — If they are elected, Maryland would be the first state to have two Black statewide officials. Wes Moore has caught lightning in a bottle. He has run ads that have been narrated by Oprah Winfrey and has captured the excitement of the moment in Maryland.

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By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

On July 19, Wes Moore and Congressman Anthony Brown won their primary contests to be Governor of Maryland and Attorney General.

Maryland is a deep blue state that currently has a moderate Republican Governor. It is expected that Moore and Brown will have a major advantage over their Republican competitors.

If they are elected, Maryland would be the first state to have two Black statewide officials. Wes Moore has caught lightning in a bottle. He has run ads that have been narrated by Oprah Winfrey and has captured the excitement of the moment in Maryland.

Moore’s main opponent was former DOJ Civil Rights chief and DNC Chair Tom Perez. Perez came in second to Moore. The results were 36 percent for Moore, 27 percent for Perez and 19 percent for Peter Franchot.

Wes Moore’s victory is verification that Black statewide candidates in states with over 20 percent of the Black vote can run and win strong campaigns.

Current Governor Larry Hogan has said publicly that he will not vote for the Republican nominee for Governor. That nominee, Dan Cox, is a supporter of Donald Trump.

“Dan Cox …is a QAnon whack job who was in favor of calling Mike Pence, my friend, a traitor, when they were talking about hanging him,” Hogan said at a news conference on July 19.

Attorney and former prosecutor Glenn Ivey defeated former Congresswoman Donna Edwards in a primary to replace Anthony Brown in Maryland’s 4th district. Ivey is all but certain to be elected to Congress in such a blue district.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent investigative journalist and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is a political analyst who appears regularly on #RolandMartinUnfiltered. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke

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DOJ Indicts Four Police Officers Who Allegedly Lied to Secure Search Warrants for Breonna Taylor’s Home

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Breonna Taylor should have awakened in her home, as usual, on the morning of March 13, 2020. Tragically, she did not. She was just 26 years old. As Attorney General Garland just stated, today’s indictments allege that Louisville Police Detective Joshua Jaynes and Sergeant Kyle Meany drafted and approved what they knew was a false affidavit to support a search warrant for Ms. Taylor’s home. That false affidavit set in motion events that led to Ms. Taylor’s death when other LMPD officers executed that warrant,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke on August 4. 

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By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Tamika Palmer, Breonna Taylor’s mother, has long been insisting that Louisville police have never been at her daughter Breonna Taylor’s apartment on the night they shot her dead.

On August 4, the Department of Justice, led by the Attorney General and Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Kristen Clarke, announced the indictments of four police officers who fatally shot Ms. Taylor during a nighttime raid on her apartment.

They asserted that the officers lied in order to get a search warrant for Taylor’s apartment.

The Justice Department announced that the indictments against the four current and former police officers would include federal charges of using “unconstitutionally excessive force.”

“Breonna Taylor should have awakened in her home, as usual, on the morning of March 13, 2020. Tragically, she did not. She was just 26 years old. As Attorney General Garland just stated, today’s indictments allege that Louisville Police Detective Joshua Jaynes and Sergeant Kyle Meany drafted and approved what they knew was a false affidavit to support a search warrant for Ms. Taylor’s home. That false affidavit set in motion events that led to Ms. Taylor’s death when other LMPD officers executed that warrant,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke on August 4.

“The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution ensures that people are subject to searches only when there is probable cause supporting a search warrant. Falsified warrants create unnecessary hazards for the public and for the police, who rely on facts that fellow officers report in carrying out their public duties,” Clarke added.

“These charges focus on the conduct of the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Place-Based Investigations Unit. In the first indictment filed today, we allege that in early 2020, that unit was investigating suspected drug trafficking in the West End [area] of Louisville. On March 12, 2020, officers from that unit sought 5 search warrants they claimed were related to the suspected drug trafficking.  Four of those warrants targeted properties in the West End where that activity was allegedly occurring,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland before Clarke spoke.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent investigative journalist and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is a political analyst who appears regularly on #RolandMartinUnfiltered. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke

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