I was Incredibly honored to receive the James Dent Walker award for excellence in African American genealogy research from the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc (AAHGS) on October 12, 2013 at this years AAHGS conference.
This award is named after James Dent Walker who was the Founder and the first President of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (National). In 1977, a few historians and genealogists, led by James Dent Walker, an archivist, met to discuss concerns and the need for an organization that would focus on the family history and genealogy of minority groups. They felt the research and support for these groups had been overlooked. This group wanted to encourage and support the historical and genealogical studies of families of all ethnic groups, with a special emphasis upon Afro-Americans. (Taken from AAHGS Fifth Anniversary Booklet: 1977 – 1982, compiled by Paul E. Sluby, Sr.)
This was a special moment for me as I shared with Mrs. Barbara Walker, wife of the person the award I received is named after, James Dent Walker. Mr. Walker was instrumental in spearheading the research and eventual gathering of African American and Native American patriots who participated in, yet were left out of, the narrative of the American Revolution.
Because of his work and that of many others in 2001, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) published a book identifying African Americans and American Indian Patriots of the Revolutionary War. Seven years later, an updated version was published in 2008 titled, Forgotten Patriots: African American and American Indian Patriots in the American Revolution, The Guide to Service, Source and Studies. The names of 32 men of color and one woman of color from Georgia identified as patriots of the American Revolution are included in this book. Three in particular I found interesting in Georgia were Austin Dabney, Mammy Kate, and Daddy Jack (see page 617 once you download file).
In February 2011, I discovered the story of a heroic rescue made by an enslaved woman named Mammy Kate and her husband, Daddy Jack of their slaveholder named Captain Stephen Heard. Heard was captured by the British at the Battle of Kettle Creek on 14 Feb 1779, and was taken to a POW camp in Augusta, Georgia to be executed. Years after his rescue, he became the 12th Governor of Georgia. See more about Mammy Kate story here:
I questioned why these two enslaved persons, who had risked their lives to save their slaveholder, had not been recognized as patriots of the American Revolution. As the first African American inducted into the Georgia Society, Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), I suggested that my local SAR chapter honor Mammy Kate and Daddy Jack with a patriotic grave marking ceremony. On Oct 15, 2011, this ceremony was held see more here. Patriot Kate became to first woman of color to be recognized as a Patriot of the American Revoluiton in the State of Georgia.
What an honor it was to receive the James Dent Walker award named for the man whose work inspired me and so many others to continue the work of researching and documenting African American and History and Genealogy.