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Akata Documentary Presents: The #AkataCookout

April 8, 2017

July 30, 2016 My team and I hosted a FREE luxury summer cookout, to celebrate a year of production and to introduce our project to the community. We spared no expense when it came to venue selection, food and raffle prizes.

At the halfway point in the evening, we presented a sneak peek video presentation to showcase what we have been doing this year. Afterwards we opened up the floor to questions. At first our guests showered us with praises and safe questions like: “How does your family feel about your journey?” All of a sudden, our conversation led to deeper issues within the African and Black communities. Topics such as mental health, systematic racism and personal testimonies came up. Several of our guests poured their hearts out during the Q&A portion, that people described our event as a public therapy session.

We also sold $5 raffle tickets at the event. The prizes included an Ancestry DNA kit, a handmade purse from Kenya and 2 curated African baskets filled with awesome items from Black and African owned businesses. We are raising money for our team to take a trip to Marion, South Carolina to visit The Gregg Plantation. Without giving away too many company secrets…. My last name is Gregg and we want to visit The Gregg Plantation, you guys put 2 + 2 together.

If you would like to make a donation to our project, click here

All in all, our team was humbled by the turn out, love and feedback we’ve received. If the money permits we will contemplate hosting another cookout or similar event again.

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DNA Testing My 95 Year Old Grandmother

July 9, 2016 My Creative Director and I drove 2.5 hours to Eastern Shore, Maryland to visit my 95 year old grandmother (on my mother’s side). She is the only living grandparent I have and have ever known. I love her to pieces

Unfortunately, this is the second time we’ve had to DNA my grandmother. As you can imagine, it is very difficult for a 95 year old woman to provide enough spit to fill half of a tube. I really hope Ancestry.com can do something with sample that she did give. If not, I am looking for other DNA testing companies that use hair samples or cheek swabs.

Here is my call-to-action, do not wait to start your family tree. And if you have the finances PLEASE PLEASE test the members in your family, especially if you do not know your family’s origin story. Why? Your future grandchildren will thank you.

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Much Love From Ivory Coast

Jason and I were invited to attend a private reception at the Ambassador’s estate to welcome African American’s who discovered they had shared Côte D’Ivoire ancestry!

His Excellency, Diabaté Daouda, shared a beautiful presentation, amazing Ivorian food and made us feel so welcomed!

The evening opened with light refreshments and the guests communicating amongst themselves. Even though I “looked” the part, I felt so out of place. Instead of being the fun and outgoing person I am, I was worried if the Africans could smell the American on me. All the butterflies were washed away when the host gave his opening speech and welcomed all of the African Americans in attendance and reiterated that this event was for us. After many speeches from the Ivory Coast staff and a round of applauses for the blacks who shared Ivory Coast ancestry, the love expressed in that room was overwhelming. Then it dawned on me, as much as I am seeking the African community, many Africans are reaching back to embrace me. As an American, I only looked at Slavery as something that negatively affected Black Americans, never taking into account that families were destroyed and colonization tormented entire communities. Being at this event gave me validation,  I am on the right track. Here’s hoping my brothers and sisters will join me.

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Top 5 Tips To Starting Your Family Tree

Welcome to Part II of our Ancestry Mini Series.

This series will soon answer the question, Can African Americans successfully use Ancestry.com to trace their roots? Akata Documentary follows the journey of Victoria G, as she discovers her own African heritage. One of the goals of this film is to inspire Black people to research their own family history to better understand our place in this world, acquire life lessons, and discover a whole new community that has been reaching out to us for some time now.

In this video, The “Barefoot Geneologist” Crista Cowan, shares her top 5 tips to starting your family tree. Here are the 5 tips, as follows:

1) Talk to your living family members
2) Start Building your Family Tree
3) Utilize the US census (if you are doing US based research)
4) Take the Ancestry DNA test
5) Don’t Give Up

Try Ancestry.com and get 14 days Free

If your family does not have a family tree, why not take on that role to cultivate that information, so you can share it with future generations to come.

For more information about our documentary, check out our teaser: https://youtu.be/aoke2LIoYQI

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New Year Protest – Shut Down Chinatown For Sandra and Tamir Rice

Happy New Year!

While most of America rang in the new year turning up, my creative director, Jason, and I decided to take our cameras to capture the “No Indictment: Turn Up To Shut Down Chinatown For Sandra Bland and Tamir Rice” protest.

If we learned anything from showing up late to the #JusticeOrElse march, we made sure to arrive 30 mins early to the venue. I’ll be honest with you guys, in the 28 years I have been on this earth I have never participated in a protest. I was extremely worried for my safety along with the other protesters because… you know.

To much of my surprise everything was really organized. By 6:45pm, we were enjoying street dancers performing amazing acrobatics. By 6:50, there was a mild crowd forming by the station. By 7:00 on the dot, we were surrounded by hundreds of people! All of a sudden, I heard a cadence and the crowd moved from the sidewalks to the middle of the road. In amazement, I looked on a crowd seemlessly  stopped traffic.Behind me were a group of cops standing by laughing amongst each other and having a good time.

I walked over to them and said ” Hello officers, how are y’all doing today?”. I thought Jason was standing next to me, that fool was nowhere to be found. In unison, the officers smiled and said “We’re fine, how are you?” I said ” I’m good, do you guys mind being interviewed for…” In unison, they ALL closed their eyes, shook their heads and said “Noooooooooo.” “Can I ask you questions off the record?” “Nooooooooo.” At this point, a look of disappointment is written all over my face. I finally said “Well… are you happy?” I heard them say “Yea, never better” ” Of course” “It’s a great day to be alive”. I thanked them for their time and went to find Jason.

New Year Protest - Shut Down Chinatown For Sandra and Tamir Rice

By the time I found Jason,  the Leader of the, Black Lives Matter DMV was wrapping up speech and announced that “we were going to march down the streets”. As were were walking, I realized that Jason and I were surrounded by White People. In fact, the protest as whole was extremely diverse! The media will have you thinking that there is some extreme Black and White race war happening right now, but this event showed me otherwise, and it was awesome!

New Year Protest - Shut Down Chinatown For Sandra and Tamir Rice

We had the opportunity to interview a white couple in attendance and asked them “Why did they sacrifice their NYE to attended the protest?” She shared that she grew up in a predominately white neighborhood in Ohio, and she “woke up” to the racial injustice in America after the Travon Martin case.

” I woke up, I don’t know where I was. I was asleep for 50 years, I’ll admit it and I’m sorry. So now I am trying to make up for lost time”.

New Year Protest - Shut Down Chinatown For Sandra and Tamir Rice

If you were at the event, what were your experiences? And how else do you feel we can “wake up” the nation?

New Year Protest - Shut Down Chinatown For Sandra and Tamir Rice

New Year Protest - Shut Down Chinatown For Sandra and Tamir Rice

New Year Protest - Shut Down Chinatown For Sandra and Tamir Rice

New Year Protest - Shut Down Chinatown For Sandra and Tamir Rice

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Ancestry Mini Series Kick Off

Welcome to our introduction video to our Ancestry.com mini series! A month ago, we visited the Ancestry.com Headquarters, in Utah, to ask one simple question. Can African Americans successfully use their service? Some background information: back in July of 2015 I decided to purchase a DNA testing kit, after much research I chose that Ancestry.com. But as a marketing professional, I realized that Ancestry.com commercials do not reach MY demographic, which lead me to question if Ancestry.com could benefit me and my community.

Fast forward to December of 2015 I am sitting across from Crista Cowan, Corporate Genealogist  and Anna Swayne, AncestryDNA Educator in Utah asking them “tough” questions about race and Black ancestry.

Ancestry Mini Series Kick Off

In order to get into that rich discussion we have to laid down the foundation. Who is Ancestry.com and Why should you use it?

If you like what you see, share it!

For more information about our documentary, check out our teaser.

Free Shipping on AncestryDNA, just use promo code (FREESHIPDNA)

Try Ancestry.com and get 14 days Free

Special thanks to the African American Civil War Museum for allowing us to film!

Ancestry Mini Series Kick Off

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JusticeOrElse Behind The Scenes

10.10.15 After meeting the son and grandsons of Minsiter Louis Farrahkan and Elija Muhammad: The Akata Crew took our camera’s washington mall to capture the excitement for #JusticeorElse.

With a mission to collect interviews of the attendees, to our disappointment, we showed up right when the speeches ended.

Even thought we missed out onlistening to the minister himself speak, I can honestly say that as a fly on the wall, you could still feel the love in the air. The camaraderie and black unity that I witnessed was absolutely beautiful. Black vendors were making thier money, street performers were performing and most importantly we networking amongst ourselves. I love the fact I saw black families together sharing this special moment in black history.

We interviewed one gentleman, who brought his wife and two kids to the march. He shared with us that he went to orginal march (20 years ago), and wanted to relieve that moment again with his children. To show them just how far we came, and now they are the ones who will carry out the torch because there is still work to be done.

Another young lady we interviewed, was so capitivated by the love that was in the air and wondered why an event like this couldn’t happen every year.

If you attended in event, how would you describe the vibe? And do you think an event like this should happen every year?

JusticeOrElse Behind The Scenes

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Behind the Scenes- Son’s of Minister Louis Farrakhan

We are living in a special time similar to the events that happened in the mid 1960’s and 70’s where we are returning to a heightened states of black awareness; from wearing natural hair to the #BlackLivesMatters/#BlackOut movements.

October 10, 2015 the Minister Louis Farrakhan invited the nation to Washington, DC to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March called #JusticeOrElse. My team attended the #BlackWealthMatters event, hosted by Dr.Boyce Watkins, the day before and caught up with sons of Min. Louis Farrakhan and the grandsons of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and asked them: What does Justice Or Else means?

It was truly an pleasure speaking with these young men and being amongst my community in love and hope for a better tomorrow. You can’t “script” a documentary and bumping into these men was an amazing opportunity that fell into my lap. This film will continue to the positive trend of black awareness and to peek the interest for our people to dig deeper on this resurgence of a black pride.

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