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Library presents genealogy panel: Tracing the Path of Free People of Color

PENDER COUNTY- On Saturday, Feb. 20 at 1 p.m., Pender County Library will host a panel of genealogists and historians for a discussion of the migrations of free people of color from Tidewater Virginia to southeastern North Carolina and westward going back to the 1600s. During the hour-long event, five genealogists and historians will tell the story of their ancestors and their ancestors’ communities.

The first African slaves in an English colony in the Americas were brought ashore in 1619 near Jamestown, in the Tidewater region of Virginia. In the first several decades of slavery in the English American colonies, a small portion of African Americans were able gain their freedom. Some of these free people of color chose to migrate to North Carolina, an early “frontier” where Virginians moved to seek land and fortune. Recollection of Virginia-North Carolina migration has faded in family memories, but the tracks remain in scattered records and stubborn bits of DNA that persist in descendants’ genomes.

The panel will include genealogists and historians Luke Alexander, Lisa Fanning, Tyrone Goodwyn, Andre Kearns, and Melvin Wilson. All panelists are descendants of free people of color who lived in the Tidewater region and/or migrated from there to southeastern North Carolina. Tyrone Goodwyn, the lead historian on the panel, is descended from free people of color in what is now Pender County.

Register online at, or go to the library’s website,, and follow the links under the Events tab. You can also call the library and staff will take your registration by phone. The event will be hosted on Zoom. There is no need to have a Zoom account; just click the link provided in the confirmation email and follow the prompts to download Zoom. The talk can be viewed on smartphone, tablet, or computer. Registration is required.

For more information or assistance, call Pender County Library at 910-259-1234 (Burgaw) or 910-270-4603 (Hampstead) during regular business hours.

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