AAHGS Welcomes
Three New Chapters!

Sandhills, NC - East Tennessee - Louisiana

Reprinted from AAHGS News May/June 2020 with permission from AAHGS, Inc.


The AAHGS-East Tennessee chapter began organizing in May 2019 as a group of individuals who shared a common interest in creating and organizing an African American genealogy group in their area of the state. There were already AAHGS chapters in Nashville and Memphis, but none serving the East Grand Division of Tennessee. We not only want to research our individual heritages, but also the rich African American history of this area of of the state. We recognized the void in contacts available in the Eastern region for educating and assisting others who want to research their family genealogy and history.

Our current projects include researching the 1917 murder of Tom Swagerty and possible lynchings in White Pine, Tennessee. Our work called "Hidden in the High Grass” documents forgotten African American cemeteries in various East Tennessee counties. We also plan to form genealogy groups for kids in the Chattanooga area.

Our chapter meetings consist of monthly conference calls and quarterly face-to-face meetings (which will resume after pandemic ends) across our thirty-county area. We have met in Chattanooga and Knoxville,and had planned to meet in historic Jonesborough, but cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The chapter currently has sixteen members with high expectations for continued growth. We will renew our outreach efforts when it becomes safe.

The featured photo is of our first face-to-face meeting held November 9, 2019, at New United Church in Chattanooga. The meeting was hosted by Chattanooga member Gwen Davis and was attended by national AAHGS President Baba Gene Stephenson and public relations director Toni-Byrd-Vann. Chapter leadership consists of President Shedenna Dockery, Vice President Ron Brabson, Secretary Roberta Elliott, and Treasurer Diane Neal.


The Louisiana chapter is led by president Ja’el Gordon. Starting strong with seventeen members, the Pelican State natives want to assist the community in Louisiana with African American-related historical research, not limited to any specific gender, race, or creed. Their goal is to support nurturing family history research, cultural impact, relevant genealogy and history programming, and building a sustainable database of individuals who will provide scholarly assistance throughout the state of Louisiana. Though their home base is Baton Rouge, the chapter draws members from all over the state including New Orleans, Shreveport, Greta, Ruston, and Opelousas as well as cities in Texas and California, reflective of the migration of African Americans who refuse to forget their southern roots.

Chapter officers include Ja'el Gordon, president; Gaynell Banks- Brady, vice-president; Jari Honora, recording/correspondence secretary; Matthew Ware, treasurer; Salanika B. Savannah, financial secretary; Micaela Bowers, parliamentarian; Divine Nicholas, histo- rian;Tronecia Lockhart-Mims,chaplain;Tasha McClain,e-newsletter editor; Shante'Washington Mercier, public relations liaison; and Shana Watson,fundraising chairperson.

Here is their self-introduction: "Bonjour! We are ever excited to be introduced as the first Louisiana Chapter of AAHGS! We are also excited about everything Louisiana has to offer! Louisiana’s strong African, Native American, Spanish, and French roots interconnect in multifaceted ways. Simply put:gumbo! Each of these influences are visible in every way through our Louisiana Creole and Cajun heritage and traditions. Louisiana would not be what it is today without this these roots mix: 64 parishes of rich culture and pride! Our goal is to assist the community both in and outside of Louisiana with African American related historical research, not limited to any specific gender, race, or creed.

Our charter members specialize in a multitude of academic concentrations related to history, genealogy, genetic genealogy, and research.These areas include ante-bellum/postbellum history of enslaved Africans, Creoles, "gens de couleur libres” (free people of color), and African Americans who make Louisiana what it is today. In our growth, we will collectively support and nurture African American family history research and cultural impact by providing relevant genealogy and history programming. We aim to build a sustainable database of individuals who will provide scholarly assistance throughout the state of Louisiana as the Louisiana Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society.”



AAHGS is growing with the addition of a new chapter covering Sandhills-Harnett, Moore, Lee, and Cumberland County, North Carolina. We urge all who live in or have ancestral roots in that area to contact President Desi L. Campbell at aahgshillsnc@gmail.com. The chapter meets every first Saturday of the month at 10 a.m. (pending end of pandemic lock down). The new chapter has fifteen members and is on track to grow even larger. They have already held two annual African American heritage festivals!! Kenyatta Berry, cohost of the PBS series Genealogy Roadshow, was their special guest at their second celebration in February 2020 (see photos). The chapter’s goal is to build a cooperative network of historians that will continue to preserve the history and legacy of African American ancestors.

In the leadership with Campbell is Vice President Alfreda Wilson, Secretary Frances Johnson, Treasurer Tammy Hooks, Parliamentarian Nelson Smith, and Historian Reba Greene.