Annual Sons & Daughters of the U.S. Middle Passage Conference

The 2nd annual Sons & Daughters of the United States Middle Passage Conference will take place Saturday, June 2, at Rider University, 2083 Lawrenceville Rd, Lawrenceville, NJ.

The conference is a celebration of the lives of individuals enslaved in the United States and early English America. Without them, African-Americans and their descendants would be unrecognizable. They endured the horrors and brutality of American slavery, and must never be forgotten.

This year’s program and awards banquet will be highly informative, with sessions including basic and advance genealogical research, using DNA and other records to discover your roots, preserving African-American burial sites, understanding African-American history by using genealogy, and presentations on known history about slavery. It will also feature two young emerging researchers—one from Harvard University and another from Jackson State University.

Session speakers are noted researchers, bloggers, and family historians. The lunch speaker, Stephen Hammond, a descendant of the Sphyaxes, a family of enslaved people who became very influential in Washington, DC. As we approach the 400-year commemoration of the first unfree Africans arriving in early colonial America, plenary speaker, Ric Murphy, Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS) Vice President of History will discuss the history and its significance.

Other speakers include: Gigi Best-Richardson, owner/curator of Best Richardson African Diaspora Museum of Literature and Culture and Best Books & Rich Treasures Antiquarian Booksellers; Mary Ragland with Janice Gilyard, local speakers and family historians; Ruth Hunt, noted researcher and featured speaker; Teresa Vega, noted genealogist, blogger; family historian, researcher, writer, and blogger; Zann Nelson, director of the African-American Descendant’s Project for James Madison’s Montpelier; LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG(SM), Certified Genealogist; and Amy Thiriot, author of the forthcoming book, Slaves in Zion: African American Servitude in Utah Territory.

The awards banquet will highlight eleven individuals who have made significant contributions to the memory of these amazing ancestors, including Frank Cellini, founder of the Georgetown Memory Group; Nettie Washington Douglass of the Frederick Douglas Institute; Dr. Martha A. Sandweiss, Professor of History at Princeton University; Darius Gray, early coordinator of indexing and digitalization of the Freedman Bureau Records; Zann Nelson, director of the African-American Descendant’s Project for James Madison’s Montpelier; and Calvin W. M. Pearson, Sr., founder and president of Project 1619.

Also honored will be authors, Dr. Daina Ramey Berry and Margo Lee Williams. Ms. Amy Thiriot will also receive a certificate of recognition for her research on Slavery in the American West.

Keynote speaker Mélisande Short-Colomb, is a descendant of the 272 enslaved people sold by Georgetown University, many of whom were sold to Louisiana slaveholders. She will be sharing the fascinating story of her ancestors and her amazing journey of discovery. The event will climax with a presentation of certificates to new members.

Sons & Daughters of the United States Middle Passage (SDUSMP) is a heritage society for people who can trace their lineage to a direct ancestor enslaved in the early colonial America and/or the United States of America. The organization was formed in 2011 in Washington, D.C. Its mission is to encourage descendants of enslaved Africans to identify and honor their ancestors’ supreme sacrifice in the creation of the United States of America through education, patriotism, remembrance, and memorialization.