August 19-25 Proclaimed African American Family History Week In Johnston County

A number of events are planned throughout Johnston County the week of August 19th – 25th as part of African American Family History Week.

Johnston County Commissioners made the proclamation at their August monthly meeting at the request of Todd Johnson, Executive Director of the Johnston County Heritage Center.

According to the proclamation, untold tens of thousands of enslaved person of African and Native American descent toiled on Johnston County farms between the county’s creation in 1746 and federally mandated emancipation in 1865.  Some enslaved persons were auctioned as chattel property on the Johnston County Courthouse Square, with some including small children, permanently separated from their families.

The Heritage Center has created an online database to assist descendants of Johnston County’s formerly enslaved persons in learning about their ancestors and connecting with relatives.  With DNA studies, historical records and oral history, descendants of local enslaved person with the surname Sanders have used DNA to trace their ancestral origins to Cameroon, Senegalese, Bigerian, Beninese, Togoloese, and Ghanaian ethnic groups such as the Fanta, Ga, Tikar, Anlo Eew, Igbo and Yoruba people.

Also known as the Sanders Reconnection Week, Aug. 19th-25th has been organized to allow Sanders descendants to come together, gather information about their ancestors, and reunited on the same soil their ancestors once toiled.   A special program will take place on Saturday, August 25th at the Smithfield Recreation & Aquatics Center in Smithfield.

The goal is to raise awareness of the importance of restoring families and recognizing the contributions of Johnston County’s formerly enslaved people, the proclamation reads.

For more information contact the Johnston County Heritage Center.