One Foot Here; Another There…Staying Connected at IBGS

Submitted by Jane Campbell Arrington

Being a member of sister organizations has its benefits. During the events in Ft. Wayne, Indiana at the first International Black Genealogy Summit (IBGS), there were reasons to believe there were additional advantages from those of us from northern Ohio -- in the form of the African-American Genealogical Society, Cleveland and the Oberlin African-American Genealogy & History Group.

Much in evidence were the greetings: smiles and hugs between us; looking out for each other in the tradition of African families carried down through the ages from our ancestors; and most of all was the "networking," passing tidbits from one and the other on the wonderful events "happening" throughout the Summit.

Northern Ohio genealogy members were highly recognizable from their T-shirts displaying their Cleveland and Oberlin logos. In fact, here's evidence. At the reception on Thursday night, several of us from Cleveland were eating, listening to the jazz band, and talking about the energy flowing through the crowd when an older gentleman, dressed in an elegant cap and jacket complete with a men's shoulder bag, came over and spoke to us about people he knew from Cleveland. This person, from Texas, (a retired architect from a well-known construction company owned by African-Americans), stayed awhile with us because he found that my husband, Angus R. Arrington, went to East Tech High with a close friend of his. Through him, we met people from Georgia, who were selling the best darn cookbook sufficiently simple for anyone to follow; I'll vouch for this… Standing in the same place, a lady from New York City came over to tell us of a woman from Cleveland she'd met several years ago at a conference and wanted to know if she was in attendance. These are merely two of many instances in which we were approached during the 3-day Summit. So it is important, folks, to wear our shirts with the logo thereon. Apparently the Chicago group also thought so, because there were plenty of bright yellow shirts (fleece and warm, smile).

Stories like these were rampant among participants at the Summit. In addition, there were tons of folks at the national and regional level of genealogy -- most of which we have only heard of by word of mouth or read about on the Internet. Well, now we’ve both ‘heard and seen’ them in living color (no pun intended), and it was wonderful doing so!

Cleveland's input was known among those who volunteered to assist Debbie Abbott, who chaired the speakers' activities for the banquet, luncheon, and workshops. Some moderators for the conference consisted of volunteers from both the Cleveland and Oberlin genealogy groups. Plus, a few could be seen working at the registration table during the open period.

Having said all of this, there were two unsung supporters from the Cleveland group at Ft. Wayne, Indiana, not associated with the support team under the IBGS banner. Of special observation were:

Last updated: January 18, 2010