Obama’s purported link to early American slave is latest twist in family tree

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, History, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2012-07-31 18:35Z by Steven

Obama’s purported link to early American slave is latest twist in family tree

The Washington Post

Krissah Thompson

President Obama’s extraordinary family story gained a new layer this week as a team of genealogists found evidence that he is most likely a descendant of one of the first documented African slaves in this country.

The link to slavery, which scholars of genealogy and race in the United States called remarkable, was found to have existed approximately 400 years back in the lineage of Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. It was discovered by a team of four genealogists from Ancestry.com whose findings from two years of work were released in a report Monday.

Using property and tax records, the team uncovered “a lot of context and circumstantial evidence” that points to an enslaved black man named John Punch being Obama’s ancestor, said Joseph Shumway, one of the genealogists who worked on the report…

…Interest in the family trees of Obama and his wife has served to upend assumptions, said Sheryll Cashin, a Georgetown University law professor who documented her research into her own family history in the book “The Agitator’s Daughter.”

“It’s absolutely poetic,” Cashin said of the discovery. “Race mixing was here from the beginning.”

The discovery comes at a time when Americans of all backgrounds have been digging deeper into their family trees. It was such familial research that led the team at Ancestry to make the connection between Punch and Obama’s family line.

They first traced Obama’s mother’s heritage through her maternal grandmother to the Bunch family, who at one time lived in Virginia, where they “passed for white” and “intermarried with local white families,” according to the report. Members of the modern Bunch family, who had already begun to dig into their heritage, conducted DNA testing that found that the family had an ancestor from Africa, and they posted that information on a family Web site. Shumway and his colleagues set out to find that black ancestor…

Read the entire article here.

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Almost White

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Social Science, United States on 2012-07-31 04:28Z by Steven

Almost White

212 pages
Original Classication ID: E184.A1 B53
Source: University of Michigan via The Hathi Trust Digital Library

Brewton Berry


  • Preface
  • 1. The Myth of the Vanishing Indian
  • 2. Where Are They?
  • 3. Who Are They?
  • 4. What the Whites Believe
  • 5. What the Negro Thinks
  • 6. Etiquette
  • 7. How They Live
  • 8. Their Schools
  • 9. Almost Red
  • 10. Almost Black
  • 11. Almost White
  • Bibliography
  • Index


Miscegenation seems to be an inevitable consequence of the meeting of races and nationalities. Despite the fears and warnings of the Jeremiahs, hybrids are everywhere. Fortunately, most people of mixed blood are able to identify themselves with, and are accepted by, one or the other of the racial groups from which they have sprung. Thus, the American mulatto thinks of himself as a Negro and is accepted by other Negroes as one of themselves.

But here and there we find pathetic folk of mixed ancestry who never know quite where they belong. There are Eurasians in the Far East, Anglo-Indians in India, Cape Coloured and Afro-Asians in South Africa, Jamaica Whites in Jamaica, and Indo-Europeans in Indonesia. Elsewhere we find Bovianders, Lobos, Caboslos, Cafusos, Moplahs, Moriscos, Cholos and countless others. These are raceless people, neither fish nor fowl, neither white, nor black, nor red, nor brown. They bear a heavy cross.

We have such folk in the United States. I first became aware of them as a youth in Orangeburg, South Carolina where there are outcasts known as Brass Ankles, Red Legs, and Buckheads. But, like others of my class, I remained aloof from them and never gave them a passing thought. Not, at any rate, until 1937 when I read Everett Stonequist’s The Marginal Man. That set me to thinking, and for the past twenty-five years I have been searching out and visiting these hybrid communities. A fellowship from the Julius Rosenwald Foundation enabled me to spend one full year in the field, and another was made possible by a grant from the Graduate School of The Ohio State University.

My informants have been legion. Over the years I have corresponded with hundreds of persons who shared my interest. I have talked with thousands of whites and Negroes who live in proximity to these mixed-bloods. My indebtedness to all these is very great. Especially do I appreciate the help given me by Dr. William Harlen Gilbert, Jr., of the Library of Congress, Mr. Calvin L. Beale of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Edward T. Price of Los Angeles State College, and Mr. C. A. Weslager of Wilmington, Delaware. I am grateful to Dr. Chapman J. Milling, of Columbia, South Carolina, for permission to use his poem “Croatan” which appears in Chapter II. The editors of Phylon allowed me to reprint “The Myth of the Vanishing Indian,” and the University of North Carolina Press granted permission to quote from James Aswell’s God Bless the Devil!

Most of all I am indebted to the thousands of mixed-bloods, whom I call mestizos, who received me with kindness and courtesy, and who shared their secrets with me. I hope that this book will help to remove some of the prejudice and misunderstanding to which they have been subjected.

Brewton Berry

Read the entire book here.

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Ancestry.com Discovers President Obama Related to First Documented Slave in America

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, History, New Media, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2012-07-31 02:19Z by Steven

Ancestry.com Discovers President Obama Related to First Documented Slave in America

Provo, Utah

Research Connects First African-American President to First African Slave in the American Colonies

PROVO, UTAH – July 30, 2012 – A research team from Ancestry.com (NASDAQ:ACOM), the world’s largest online family history resource, has concluded that President Barack Obama is the 11th great-grandson of John Punch, the first documented African enslaved for life in American history. Remarkably, the connection was made through President Obama’s Caucasian mother’s side of the family.

The discovery is the result of years of research by Ancestry.com genealogists who, through early Virginia records and DNA analysis, linked Obama to John Punch. An indentured servant in Colonial Virginia, Punch was punished for trying to escape his servitude in 1640 by being enslaved for life. This marked the first actual documented case of slavery for life in the colonies, occurring decades before initial slavery laws were enacted in Virginia.

In the 372 years since, many significant records have been lost—a common problem for early Virginia (and the South in general)—destroyed over time by floods, fires and war. While this reality greatly challenged the research project, Ancestry.com genealogists were able to make the connection, starting with Obama’s family tree.

President Obama is traditionally viewed as an African-American because of his father’s heritage in Kenya. However, while researching his Caucasian mother, Stanley Ann Dunham’s lineage, Ancestry.com genealogists found her to have African heritage as well, which piqued the researchers’ interest and inspired further digging into Obama’s African-American roots. In tracing the family back from Obama’s mother, Ancestry.com used DNA analysis to learn that her ancestors, known as white landowners in Colonial Virginia, actually descended from an African man. Existing records suggest that this man, John Punch, had children with a white woman who then passed her free status on to their offspring. Punch’s descendants went on to be free, successful land owners in a Virginia entrenched in slavery…

…More details and supporting information on this discovery and additional research on President Obama’s family lineage can be found at www.ancestry.com/obama

Read the entire press release here.

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Halle Berry and the Resurgence of the Tragic Mulatto

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2012-07-31 02:01Z by Steven

Halle Berry and the Resurgence of the Tragic Mulatto

The Root

Clay Cane

The furor caused by Berry’s assertion that her daughter is black reminds us how confused Americans remain about race.

Halle Berry’s recent comments in Ebony magazine have brought up the complex subject of racial identity, which still seems to confuse many Americans. Asked if her daughter, Nahla, is African American, the Oscar-winning actress answered, “I feel like she’s black. I’m black and I’m her mother, and I believe in the one-drop theory.”
Blogs raged, and suddenly everyone was an expert on dissecting the social construction of race. Even many black websites roared that Nahla wasn’t black. It was as if a chapter from an Alex Haley book had come to life on the Web.
Berry has never used the words “mixed” or “biracial” to describe her racial identity. She identifies as a black woman. Similarly, President Barack Obama, Faith Evans, Jasmine Guy and even the late, great Bob Marley all embraced having a white parent—but didn’t identify by degree of blackness. Apparently, they subscribe to the belief that either you are black—or you are not.
In 2011, black is no longer praised as beautiful; everyone wants to be “multi.” People proudly run through their race, ethnicity and nationality as if it’s a résumé. “Mixed,” “multiethnic,” even the deeply offensive word “mulatto,” are resurging as the hottest labels around. Here’s another new term I recently heard: “double-raced.”…

…Today everyone wants to be a tragic mulatto, not knowing the history. The mulatto is a classic stereotype that first made an appearance in 19th-century American literature. Eventually this archetype became box office gold for films like 1934’s Imitation of Life and 1949’s Pinky

…Race is not an individual choice; it’s a social choice. The key question is, “Do you or do you not have white privilege?” If you don’t, then you are a black person in America. If Nahla Ariela Aubry were white or could truly exist in this country under the imaginary label of “biracial,” then this volatile discussion about her color wouldn’t have started. As Halle told Ebony, “I had to decide for myself, and that’s what she’s going to have to decide — how she identifies herself in the world. And I think, largely, that will be based on how the world identifies her. That’s how I identified myself.”…

Read the entire article here.

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From Negro to Caucasian: or, How the Ethiopian is Changing His Skin

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2012-07-31 01:46Z by Steven

From Negro to Caucasian: or, How the Ethiopian is Changing His Skin

Pilot Publishing Company, San Francisco, California
65 pages
Source: University of Michigan via The Hathi Trust Digital Library

Louis Fremont Baldwin

A concise presentation of the manner in which many Negroes in America … have abandoned their… afiliation with Negroes

A concise presentation of the manner in which many Negroes in America who, being very fair in complexion, with hair naturally or artificially free from kink, have abandoned their one-time affiiliations with Negroes, including their own relatives,  and by mingling at first commercially or industrially, then socially with Caucasians, have ultimately been absorbed by the latter.

Prepared and published at the request of the Society for the Amalgamation of the Races
New York, Paris and London
Pilot Publishing Company
617 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, Calif.


The reader is earnestly asked to accept as authentic and reliable the information that is given in this book. The writer is indebted to many friends throughout the country from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from the St. Lawrence to the Rio Grande.

These friends rendered valuable assistance enabling him to locate the individuals with whom he has held interviews related in the text, and from whom he was able to gather information that impressed him with the fact, of the enormous num ber of Colored Americans, who have sufficient ad mixture of bloods in their veins, to alienate them in appearance from the American Negro.

More startling still is the discovery of the great numbers of this contingent of the so-called Negro race, who have deserted-and forsaken kith and kin, and become merged with, or rather absorbed by the American Citizenry as the latter pursues the ordinary paths of trade, commerce, industry and professions, and . . and matrimony.

The reader will also recognize how complicated the situation—but this does not mean that the situation is necessarily calamitous,—but how difficult for any person, particularly those whose ancestors resided “In The South” to be perfectly sure that there is not “a drop of Negro blood in their veins!”  That it can be there, goes without saying, as the  incidents mentioned in the text that follows plainly show, but just as millions of Negroes—Negroes with fair complexions and perfectly straight hair,— those who have not “Crossed Over” as well as those who have, have white blood in their veins, why the author asks, can there not be millions of  persons who believe themselves to be white, yet  have Negro blood in their veins, obtained by the methods that it has been thought appropriate to  bring to the attention of the public through the publication of this book.


Let the undersigned assure the readers of this book that after he had read the proof-sheets, he felt it his duty to give the author permission to add his personal testimony as to the prevalence of the practice alleged to be in vogue. He can confirm what is stated as occurring in so many instances, because a branch of his own family “Crossed Over” some few years ago, and has become completely absorbed in the white race.

—A. E. SHADD, Bishop of the United Holy Church of America; Western & Pacific Coast District

Read the entire book here.

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Obama Has Ties to Slavery Not by His Father but His Mother, Research Suggests

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, History, New Media, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2012-07-30 23:47Z by Steven

Obama Has Ties to Slavery Not by His Father but His Mother, Research Suggests

The New York Times

Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s biography — son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas — has long suggested that unlike most African-Americans, his roots did not include slavery.

Now a team of genealogists is upending that thinking, saying that Mr. Obama’s mother had, in addition to her European ancestors, at least one African forebear and that the president is most likely descended from one of the first documented African slaves in the United States.

The findings are scheduled to be announced on Monday by Ancestry.com, a genealogy company based in Provo, Utah. Its team, while lacking definitive proof, said it had evidence that “strongly suggests” Mr. Obama’s family tree — on his mother’s side — stretches back nearly four centuries to a slave in colonial Virginia named John Punch…

…The findings come as more and more Americans are discovering their own mixed-race heritage. Elizabeth Shown Mills, a former president of the American Society of Genealogists, said the Internet, coupled with the ease of DNA testing and heightened interest among both amateur and professional genealogists, was helping to reveal the extent of racial intermingling over the centuries…

…The Ancestry.com team used DNA analysis to make the connection, and it also combed through marriage and property records to trace Mr. Obama’s maternal ancestry to the time and place where Mr. Punch lived. The company said records suggested that Mr. Punch fathered children with a white woman, who passed her free status on to those children, giving rise to a family of a slightly different name, the Bunches, that ultimately spawned Mr. Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham

…The Ancestry.com team spent two years examining Mr. Obama’s mother’s past, focusing on the mixed-race Bunch line. The researchers said that over time, as the Bunches continued to intermarry, they became prominent landowners in colonial Virginia and were known as white.

“We sort of stumbled across it,” said Anastasia Harman, the lead researcher. “We were just doing general research into the president’s family tree, and as we started digging back in time, we realized that the Bunch family were African-American.”

There is no evidence that Ms. Dunham had any inkling that she might have had African-American ancestry, said Janny Scott, her biographer. By the mid-1800s, according to a 2007 article in The Chicago Sun-Times, one of Ms. Dunham’s Bunch ancestors had a son who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.

The Ancestry.com group traced two major Bunch family branches, one that lived as white and stayed in Virginia for generations and another that left for the Carolinas. In North Carolina, the Bunches were recorded as “mulatto” in early records, and their descendants are also the president’s cousins…

Read the entire article here.

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The Powhatan Remnants

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States, Virginia on 2012-07-30 17:32Z by Steven

The Powhatan Remnants


Helen Campbell

Prior to the white man’s arrival in America, a chain of separate but interacting Algonquian communities thrived along the Atlantic coastline. The Indians thrived in communities from the Chesapeake to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. When warm weather arrived, the Indians used the coastline for fishing and hunting. In the southern regions Indians turned to the planting of crops for foodstuff. Some of the Southeastern Indians tribes became extinct almost immediately upon contact with the explorers from the Old World; the contact with the Indians was catastrophic because the foreign ships carried a plague of diseases. The Native Americans didn’t have any immunity to the diseases, which resulted in epidemics and the deaths of millions of Native Americans. The first African slaves were transported to the Americas in 1510 thus transmitting new diseases from Africa to the Native Americans. In 1551, the English voyagers reported that the Roanoke Islands’ natives were dying by scores.

The First European Settlements

In 1584, an Englishman, Walter Raleigh, led an expedition to look into Spanish defenses in the Caribbean Islands and to explore for a perfect site to build a new settlement. His men explored in Albemarle Sound and landed on the Virginia coastal island (now North Carolina), of Roanoke Island. In 1585, Walter Raleigh tried to establish a settlement on the newfound island. It was the ideal location to plant and grow wild sassafras, an herb prized for it’s medicinal qualities in England. Raleigh sailed back to England to purchase provisions for the coming winter. During a skirmish with the Indians, the settlers killed an Indian chief and the Indians were infuriated. This first group of immigrants abandoned the undeveloped settlement after a year when Sir Francis Drake rescued the settlement from disaster…

…About one hundred miles inland, from Roanoke Island, and adjacent to the South Carolina border, was an area called Robeson County, North Carolina. In 1719, a group of hunters and trappers strayed into the hilly landscape and stumbled upon a tribe of Indians. The Indians had light skin, gray/blue eyes and light brown hair. But most astonishing was the fact that they spoke nearly perfect Elizabethan English. These Indians said that their ancestors “talked from a book.” Their customs were similar to the early English Roanoke Colony. This sighting brought about a theory that the starving colonists at Roanoke took refuge with the Croatan Indians during the first winter when Governor John White didn’t return. To this day the descendants still live in Robeson County, North Carolina. They are known as the Lumbee Indians. The surviving remnants of the Roanoke settlement may have been assimilated into the indigenous tribes. The existence of fair skinned Indians in Roberson, North Carolina substantiates the theory that the Roanoke colonists and perhaps the abandoned Turks and Portuguese and Moors blended in with the Croatan and other Tidewater, Virginia Indian tribes, including the Powhatan and Lumbee Indians. Dr. Robert Gilmor, a Melungeon researcher, suggests the people of the legendary “Lost Colony of Roanoke” intermarried with the Powhatan Indians who had already intermarried with Jamestown Colony. Adding the surnames White and Dare to the Indian population. Other surnames common to the Lumbee Indians are; Applewhite, Atkins, Braveboy, Bridger, Caldwell, Chavers and it’s variants, Cole, Cumbo and it’s variants, Cummings, Drake, Goins, and it’s variants, Humpreys/Humprey, Kearsy, Kitchens, Locklear, Manuel, Morison, Moore, Mainer, Newsom, Oxedine, Ransom, Revels, Thompson, and Wood. The remnants of this mixed raced population were ultimately pushed together in the mountains of south-central Virginia, western North Carolina and upper South Carolina where they became known as the Tri-racial isolates

…Chief Powhatan – Wahunsonacook 1550s-1618

It is not certain but probable that Don Luis was the father of Wahunsonacook, born in the 1550’s and later became the legendary Chief Powhatan of the Powhatan Confederacy.

The English called Wahunsonacock, Chief Powhatan, King of the Powhatans. Wahunsonacook was a member and chief of the Pamunkey Indians. The Pamunkey were the largest of the many Virginia Tidewater tribes. Their political system was Chiefdom, a sovereignty and supreme power with a king and a province. Some researchers have written, that Wahunsonacock inherited the Chiefdoms of the Powhatans, Arrowhateck, Appamattock, Pamunkey, Mattaponi, and the Chiskiak Indians.

The Powhatans lived in a 9,000 square mile area. Chief Powhatan and his people lived on the North side of the James River in Henrico County. It was a custom for the Ruler of the Powhatans to acquire the name of the tribe, thus Chief Powhatan.

There were hundreds of Indian villages near the Chesapeake Bay. The inlets and rivers that flow into the Chesapeake Bay, were vital, they were used for transportation and were a major source of food. The rivers and bay provided the Indians with an abundant source of fish, oysters, clams and waterfowl. The Powhatan villages were strategically placed enabling the Indians to have a commanding view of the waterways and the people traveling them, especially their enemies. Historian James Mooney estimated the Powhatan population at nine thousand Indians in the sixteen hundreds and by the end of the eighteenth century they had nearly disappeared as a result of warfare, disease, and inter-marriage with Africans and Europeans. Some were fortunate enough to be adopted among other Indian tribes thus becoming another mixed raced people. In 1685 the Powhatans were said to be extinct, but in reality their survivors continued to move inland, intermarrying with other mixed-race exiled people. In 1691 a law was made to end the intermarriage of Whites to Indians and Blacks. The remnants of this mixed raced population eventually fled to the isolated mountains in the Southeast…

Read the entire article here.

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The semantics of ‘mestizo’

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive on 2012-07-28 23:33Z by Steven

The semantics of ‘mestizo’

GMA News Online

Amanda Lago

“What’s your mix?” clothing brand Bayo asked Filipina women in its heavily-lampooned ad campaign from last month.

The ad drew criticism for excluding 100-percent Filipinos, and glorifying the “50-precent Filipina” instead, thereby feeding the beauty industry’s obsession with so-called mestizas.

But as it turns out, all Filipinos are mestizos of a sort—and it comes down to matter of semantics.

Apparently, the word “mestizo” has long suffered from widespread misuse, at least according to cultural anthropologist Dr. Fernando Zialcita.

To most Filipinos, “mestizo” refers to fellow Pinoys who are fairer-skinned than others, usually those who are descended from American or European parents or grandparents.

But in a lecture at the Instituto Cervantes Tuesday, Zialcita said that the original meaning of the word “mestizo” has nothing to do with skin color…

Read the entire article here.

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Instituto Cervantes holds forum on genetic diversity in the Philippines

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive on 2012-07-28 23:27Z by Steven

Instituto Cervantes holds forum on genetic diversity in the Philippines

GMA News Online
Quezon City, Philippines

On Tuesday, July 24, Instituto Cervantes presents “Todos somos mestizos: A Topogenetic Atlas of the Philippines,” a forum on the genetic make-up of Filipinos all over the archipelago. The talk will be led by Filipino anthropologist Fernando Zialcita, Ph.D. and Spanish Biology professor, Antonio González-Martín, Ph.D., who is currently in the country to conduct an ongoing project funded by the Goverment of Spain.

The forum’s title, which roughly translates to ”We Are All a Mix,” is a prelude to the subject matter of the genetic diversity of Filipinos originating from different parts of the country. Dr. González-Martín will reveal for the very first time a rough approximation of the genetic make-up of the Filipino people. Why did he choose the Philippines? “Aside from the fact that the Philippines has an extremely rich demographic history, these islands are key to explain the expansion of human beings in the Austronesian region,” says González-Martín…

Read the entire article here.

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New Americans: Rise of the Multiracials: A Documentary

Posted in Census/Demographics, Family/Parenting, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States, Videos on 2012-07-28 20:14Z by Steven

New Americans: Rise of the Multiracials: A Documentary

A Work-In-Progress Documentary

Eli Steele, Producer

With more Americans marrying across the color line today than before, it is inevitable that the racial makeup of America’s face will forever change. Of the nine million individuals that identified themselves as multiracial on the 2010 census, more than 50 percent were under 18 years of age, including filmmaker Eli Steele’s two children, Jack and June. By 2050, they and their multiracial peers are expected to account for 25% of the total population.
This fate was long predicted by early Americans such as James Madison and Frederick Douglass who knew the color line could not keep the races apart for eternity. And now that this fate is upon us, what does it mean for a country that has shed so much blood in the name of race?

With this question on his mind, Filmmaker Eli Steele, who is multiracial himself, has embarked on a journey through America to explore various aspects of the American landscape for clues to what the future holds. So far, he has encountered individuals ranging from a U.S. Army soldier who refuses to self identify his race to a radio host who identifies as Black American despite a white mother and black father. Aside from interviews, Steele plans to explore the role of multiracial individuals in key moments in American history, the ongoing demographic shifts that are rapidly redefining once firm racial boundaries, and pockets of resistance to the multiracial baby boom.
Steele also plans to journey into the history of his family for to be multiracial is a fate that is at once deeply personal and political. Why did the ancestors of his children make the decisions to cross the color line, especially at times where there were no societal advantages in doing so? By learning more about the world they came from and the decisions they made, Steele hopes to provide his children with a better understanding of the world and people they come from. 
To date, Steele has discovered there are two Americas at odds with one another. There is the private America of individuals has advanced race relations to the point that 85 percent of 18 to 29 year olds and 73 percent of 30 to 49 year olds would consider marriage to another race. On the other side, there is the public America of government institutions and corporations that continue their race policies despite an obvious absurdity: if an individual is more than one race, then what is race? Will America reconcile its race policies with the irreversible trends of private America or will there always be a disconnect?

The outcome of this new front on the culture war around race will determine whether America continues its legacy of racial strife or finally looks past skin color to the person’s content of character. At the end of his journey, Steele hopes to return to his two children, Jack and June, with a better and realistic understanding of how to prepare them for the America they will live in 2050.

Interview subjects include Clay Cane, Jennifer Ceci, Jen Chau, Marcia Alesan Dawkins, Eric ‘Charles’ Jaskolski, Angela Mckee, Farzana Nayani, Jared Sexton, and Ken Tanabe.

For more information, click here.

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