06-21-2018  1:21 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
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AG Rosenblum Seeks Info from Oregonians

Oregon Attorney General seeks information on children separated from families at border ...

Community Forum: How Does Law Enforcement Interact With Vulnerable Populations?

Forum will focus on public safety and examine mental health and addiction issues ...

King County Council Recognizes Juneteenth

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Unite Oregon Hosts ‘Mourn Pray Love, and Take Action’ June 20

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MRG Foundation Announces Spring 2018 Grantees

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Girl, 14, drowns in pond near Silverton

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ICE office in Portland closed another day

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Washington, other states plan to sue over family separations

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Walla Walla podiatrist charged with unprofessional conduct

WALLA WALLA, Wash. (AP) — A Walla Walla podiatrist has been charged with unprofessional conduct for allegedly failing to meet the standard of care in treating two patients who developed infections which later required amputations.The Union-Bulletin reported Thursday that Washington state's...


How Washington’s 'School Achievement Index' Became School Spending Index

New assessment categorizes schools not by quality of education, but level of funding officials believe they should receive ...

Black Mamas Are Dying. We Can Stop It.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly plans to improve access to culturally-competent care with the MOMMA Act ...

Hey, Elected Officials: No More Chicken Dinners...We Need Policy

Jeffrey Boney says many elected officials who visit the Black community only during the election season get a pass for doing nothing ...

Juneteenth: Freedom's Promise Still Denied

Juneteenth is a celebration of the de facto end of slavery, but the proliferation of incarceration keeps liberation unfulfilled ...


3 men face hate crimes charges in Minnesota mosque bombing

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A grand jury has added civil rights and hate crimes violations to charges three Illinois men face in the bombing of a mosque in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington.Federal prosecutors announced the new five-count indictment Thursday against 47-year-old Michael Hari,...

Governor orders probe of abuse claims by immigrant children

WASHINGTON (AP) — Virginia's governor ordered state officials Thursday to investigate abuse claims by children at an immigration detention facility who said they were beaten while handcuffed and locked up for long periods in solitary confinement, left nude and shivering in concrete...

Abloh's historic debut at Vuitton is a big draw in Paris

PARIS (AP) — The debut Louis Vuitton collection by Virgil Abloh, the first African-American to head a major European fashion house, drew stars of all stripes to Paris for his rainbow-themed menswear show.Kanye West was there with his wife, Kim Kardashian West, who had returned to Paris for...


Q&A: Sam Smith on touring, therapy, smoking and lip syncing

NEW YORK (AP) — Sam Smith knows his music is melancholy and emotional, but he's hoping his live shows will be uplifting and feel "like a fistful of love," as he put it.The singer, known for down-tempo hits like "Stay With Me" and "Too Good at Goodbyes," is launching "The Thrill of It All...

AP PHOTOS: Toasts, kisses and laughs at Clooney AFI gala

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Mike Colter brings the pain as the indestructible Luke Cage

ATLANTA (AP) — "Black Panther" broke box office records, but "Luke Cage" once crashed Netflix.The streaming service suffered a massive outage for more than two hours in 2016, one day after the premiere of "Luke Cage," a drama-action series starring Mike Colter who plays the show's superhero...


Dig it: Archaeologists scour Woodstock '69 concert field

BETHEL, N.Y. (AP) — Archaeologists scouring the grassy hillside famously trampled during the 1969 Woodstock...

Canada's legalization to offer pot by mail, better banking

Mail-order weed? You betcha!With nationwide marijuana legalization in Canada on the horizon, the industry is...

Koko the gorilla, who learned sign language, dies at 46

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Koko the gorilla, whose remarkable sign-language ability and motherly attachment to...

Cuba slightly loosens controls on state media

HAVANA (AP) — Minutes after a plane carrying 113 people crashed on takeoff from Havana airport, Cuban state...

Pope, in Geneva, says Christians must work together on peace

GENEVA (AP) — Pope Francis journeyed Thursday to the well-heeled city of Geneva to encourage all...

South Sudan's armed opposition rejects 'imposition' of peace

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — South Sudan's armed opposition on Thursday rejected any "imposition" of a...

Image from the Freedmen's Bureau Project
By Erika R. Whitehead, Howard University Journalism Program

WASHINGTON -- Thom Reed sits in front of a computer day after day in Salt Lake City, Utah, researching name after name of former slaves, names that date back to just before the 13th Amendment that ended slavery.

It is a late weekday evening, and Reed is drowsy as he flicks through each name, searching for a glimmer of where his ancestors may have come from, as well as the distant relatives of millions of other African-Americans.

He and others hope that Africans and African-Americans across the globe will be able ultimately to use his work to discover in a matter of minutes what he is painstakingly trying to retrieve from one of the few bright lights in perhaps the darkest chapter in the nation’s history.

Reed, the senior marketing manager at FamilySearch International, is one of thousands working on the Freedmen’s Bureau Project, an ambitious collaboration to index millions of records from the Freedmen’s Bureau, which was established during the Civil War to help freed slaves.

The other partners include the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society and the California African-American Museum.

When the project is complete, it will allow people to access four million indexed records of slaves, which will help trace the ancestry of the African-American race.

Currently 10,200 volunteers are extracting raw record information about freed slaves, indexing the records to make them available to the public.

There have been over 440,800 records indexed thus far, officials said. Reed, one of the leaders on the effort, said the goal is to have all four million records indexed in conjunction with the opening of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, which opens in fall 2016.

Reed, a father of his five, said his search for his own family’s ancestry is what drew him to the project.

“Through my interest in my own family history, and knowing where I come from, I kind of started on this project at the end of February, when we really realized what we had and what we could do in engaging the African-American community to help us with this record collection,” he said.

“Personally I jumped at the chance to do this, because TIME did an article about this project. They mentioned the issues I had with my own family, hitting that brick wall. I can trace my lineage through my great grandfather, Thom Baynes, from years ago, but never knew anything about him.”

The Freedmen’s Bureau was created near the end of the Civil War to assist newly freed slaves in 15 states and the District of Columbia. From 1865 to 1872, the bureau opened schools, hospitals, provided food and clothing, and solemnized marriages.

Sherri Camp, vice president of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, said the records reveal a treasure of information.

“The Freedmen’s Bureau gives us actual dialogue, actual letters, actual handwriting, actual stories of African-Americans and what they experienced during this time period,” Camp said. “The reason why the Freedmen’s Bureau was so important during this time was because it was a bridge between slavery and freedom.”

Camp said she believes the information will be particularly helpful to young people.

“We may not be able to have our history properly displayed in textbooks or in schools, but if we are researching out heritage and sharing this with others, young people have the opportunity now to know who they are and have a sense of direction,” she said.

“Once they have that, they have a sense of purpose, and they can begin to move in their lives with more power than they’ve had in the past. That I think is one of the major things that will change the trajectory of our youth.

“Some of our young people don’t know what slavery is. So, knowing their history, knowing their family history, knowing there are people who went through this and survived, will change how they feel about themselves even.”

Camp also has searched her family’s history.

“I’ve been doing genealogy for 28 years now,” she said. “When I first started, I hardly knew anything about my family. When I began researching, finding my slave ancestors, to me, was impossible. In fact, I’ve only found three, so far, of my slave ancestors. What the Freedmen’s Bureau records mean to me, is the opportunity to find my family, which seemed improbable before.”

To join the indexing team or learn more about the project, visit the Freedmen's Bureau Project here.

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