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March 2022

The Importance of DNA

          As I continue to research the history of our family, I find it somewhat difficult to find documents referencing African Americans, their origins or their lineage after being brought to America. As apprehensive as I am to discover information, I do not consider this as justification to fabricate the real struggle of our ancestors and their descendants. Even with the roadblocks placed in our way, many of us are fortunate enough to connect our lineage through DNA.


          This data is considered a blessing to those of us who have exhausted all other resources. With the loss of older family members, records and various forms of data due to hurricane Katrina, it has been a struggle to obtain photos of relatives that we treasured over the years. Thankfully, there were family members residing outside of the areas affected who graciously offered whatever they could in an attempt to help preserve our history. We will acknowledge all contributors in our upcoming monthly essay.


          While this is a blessing to us, it is a curse to some. Today through DNA, proof of relationship can be easily established, documented and either accepted or rejected. In my search I have had the pleasure of having photos shared with me by family members reaching back to the civil war. The physical traits, similar occupations, and analogous thinkers are evident when comparing ancestors with members of our families today.


          Within our family, there are theologians whose lives impacted society as a whole. There are educators who stepped up into leadership roles, causing repercussions within their inner-circle and impacting the lives our descendants. The foundation was laid long ago for many because of their struggles. Although not an easy task, the fight for right and equality was led by our courageous ancestors whose names are affixed to physical structures throughout the city of New Orleans today.


           In the process of learning about these persons who saw injustice and sought to right the wrong caused by slavery, I have come to admire their meager efforts. I realize the difficult task they encountered when being singled out, and often persecuted for their sacrifices to bring about a better life and a decent life for those who were kidnapped from our motherland, Africa; brought to England, France and America to be used in servitude. Our ancestors struggled but survived. We cannot allow their vision for a better life die on our watch.

Yvonne Richard-Sanchez

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