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10 Million Names: Recovering African American History

Clark University & Worcester Art Museum

In fifth grade, my social studies teacher assigned us a research project: create a presentation about your family’s country of origin. Me and the only other Black student in my class were shocked to find out that we did not know exactly what countries our families came from. While our other classmates began researching Ireland, Poland, and a plethora of other European nations, our teacher suggested that me and my classmate research the entire continent of Africa (which is roughly 54 countries). Two 11-year-olds tasked with researching the cultures of 54 completely different countries was a feat that many college students would have trouble doing. This may no longer be a problem for African American youth because of a new project working to uncover African American history and genealogy.

The history and genealogy of African American families have been almost completely erased by the horrors of slavery. The majority of African Americans have no insight into the lives of their ancestors or even the countries in which their families originated.

The “10 Million Names” project is seeking to change this. The project ambitiously hopes to recover the names of the 10 million people of African descent who were enslaved before 1865 in what is now the United States of America. Dr. Kendra Field, Chief Historian of the project, is hopeful that “10 Million Names” will be successful in creating a centralized archive of the names and lives of enslaved families. The project is even encouraging people to share any information about their ancestors to connect them to other relatives and to create a searchable record of African American history. “‘The 10 Million Names project is aiming to corral and encourage, and to welcome people to upload their family history, information, and photographs to the website.” Field states.

Worcester Art Museum

The “10 Million Names” website currently provides information about common myths surrounding slavery, a map showing where the African American population resided from 1790 to 1860, along with many more interesting resources. As the project expands, more and more people will be able to know the stories of their ancestors and tell generations to come.


By Amaar Zarrieff, Freshman, Howard University

Instagram: amaar.fz / X: @Amaar_FZ


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Written by Amaar Zarrieff

Amaar Zarrieff, a student at Howard University, is an aspiring writer, filmmaker, and millionaire looking to make a positive impact on the entertainment industry.

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