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APSU students, public to explore genealogy

September 17, 2002

For many people, especially African-Americans, discovering the tangled branches of the family tree may be difficult. But it's not impossible, according to a panel of genealogy experts who will address this issue Sept. 27 and 28 at Austin Peay.

“As a result of the slavery period, many African-Americans believe it's impossible to find their roots,” said Dr. Nancy Dawson, director of APSU's African-American Studies Program. “The group of professionals we've assembled will definitely dispel these myths.”

Taught by Dawson, APSU students will participate in the seminar, “Tracing African-American Roots: An Exploration into Genealogy,” on Sept. 27 and 28. The African-American Studies Program and the Wilbur N. Daniel African-American Cultural Center will sponsor the seminar, which is designed to give participants the strategies needed to begin a search for their ancestry.

At 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 27 in the African-American Cultural Center, Dr. Tommie Morton Young, Nashville, will give a lecture on “The Importance of Tracing Your Roots.” A professional genealogist for more than 20 years, Young lectures at colleges and universities nationwide. Her APSU talk is free and open to the public.

At 9 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 28, students will participate in a workshop sponsored by the Clarksville/Montgomery County Public Library. Tim Pulley, supervisor of the Genealogy Room, will introduce participants to library resources that are essential for anyone interested in genealogy.

Samuel Pieh, a descendent of Joseph Cinque who led the Amistad Rebellion, will lecture at 2 p.m. that afternoon in the African-American Cultural Center. Pieh's lecture is free and open to the public.
In preparation for his lecture, there will be a discussion and showing of the movie “Amistad” from 6-9 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 26. This event is free and open to the public.

Born Sengbe Pieh in Mani Sierra Leone in 1815, Cinque was captured by Spanish slave-traders in 1839 and given the name Joseph Cinque by his captors.

According to Dawson, he and 48 other enslaved Africans were herded onto a schooner, named Amistad, which set sail for a plantation in Cuba. The group, led by Cinque, took possession of the ship and ordered the navigator to take them back to Africa. After more than 60 days at sea, the ship was intercepted off the coast of Long Island, N.Y.

Dawson said, “The course of events that occurred following this incident had a significant impact upon American history.”

For more information on any event listed here, telephone Dawson at 7106 or contact her by e-mail at