The following is a Press Release from a gentleman connected with my Brayboy line.
May 28, 2008
Lamberton Genealogy Project
November 2007 was the beginning of a wonderful and productive relationship for me with the Robert E. Lamberton Elementary school of Philadelphia, PA. Their principal, Marla Travis-Jones declared the 2007-2008 school year's theme as 'Family History & Genealogy'. My wife, Cynthia and I flew from Santa Fe to present and speak to the students about ancestry.
We showed the kids the PBS program 'History Detectives' that featured my 2nd great grandfather John Stevenson, an African American Civil War soldier and veteran. Then we gave a PowerPoint presentation of my ancestors, telling stories and explaining genealogical research along the way. We had a delightful and illuminating Q&A session with the students and their parents. After two days, we returned home.
For the next six months, the students had genealogy projects to develop. In order to graduate from middle school to high school, they had to create a family history presentation. And create they did! Booklets, posters, computer discs, oral histories on audio tape, and even a dance interpretation of three generations of women in one family!
I returned to the school in May to witness - and judge - a collection of genealogical treasures that just blew me away. I could tell that many of the students had help from their older siblings, parents and relatives. No points were taken off for that. In fact, that was the big 'Gotcha' moment. The whole family got together on a genealogical project! Folks, it doesn't get any better than that!
The top ten students had to present to me. There was the typical talking too fast, too low, not facing the audience, stumbling, fumbling, etc. There was something else, also. There was pride, improved self-esteem, and an awareness and upliftedness that comes from learning and knowing your ancestry. One student learned that there are skilled tradesmen on his father's side and college graduates on his mother's side. Another student had prominent ancestors from Haiti. Others had world class boxers, jockeys and footballers to point to. One student could trace his ancestors back to the 1700's. All of the students couldn't wait to tell me what they found out about their families. We also digressed a lot, talking about hippies, yippies, Black Panthers and all kinds of things. We had big fun.
At this juncture, I want to report that the school has all the attributes of an inner city facility in crisis. I could tell that they were probably near the bottom of the list for resources. One of the security personnel drove me between the school and the hotel. He explained to me what a tough job he and the teachers had in keeping the children safe and providing an education at the same time. Their saving grace came in the form of their progressive and dedicated principal, Marla Travis Jones.
It was Mrs. Jones, inspired by the PBS program, who figured that one way to make a difference in her students' lives was to shine a light on their family histories and have that reflection be part of their academic well being. And they got it; the students, parents and teachers! Mrs. Barbara Feracco, an eight grade teacher with a passion for genealogy, assisted the students throughout the year and was surprised by and proud of the students' efforts and parental participation. I was more than appreciative of her help in narrowing down the field to the top ten projects.
Well, I am the Lamberton school's official genealogist. That's an honor I'll cherish and respect for a long time to come. I'm already planning my next visit!
"Guided by the Ancestors"