CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, is working to pilot the first-of-its-kind scientific DNA processes through the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Department of Anthropology and the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. The Family Roots Genealogy Program pilot will provide African American descendants of previously enslaved individuals the opportunity to trace their roots back to their ancestral homelands.
“For too long, people in our community, our state, and throughout our country have been denied a part of their identity because of the legacy of slavery — but there are people here in our community who are righting this historic wrong,” said Ammons. “The Family Roots Genealogy Program pilot is about helping African Americans in our communities to reconnect with their ancestral heritage, which can promote well-being and empower African American descendants around Illinois, who have been denied such resources in the past due to the nation’s practices of slavery. It’s important that we recognize this work and promote its continuation.”
Ammons’ House Resolution 453 spotlights the important work of the Family Roots Genealogy Program pilot, which will demonstrate extraordinary value and benefits for African American citizens in Illinois seeking to engage and recover their lost ancestral history. The program will be led by principal investigator Dr. LaKisha David, an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Urbana Champaign.
Participants of the program provide saliva samples to be processed at the university’s biotechnology center, in which the sample will be analyzed by the National Center for Supercomputing, also housed in Champaign-Urbana.
“We understand that family separations multiple generations ago have a lasting and direct psychological and social impact,” said David. “House Resolution 453 stands as a pioneering initiative, aiming to heal those deep-seated wounds and support healthy identity development by restoring disrupted African family connections.”
“Dr. David’s innovative approach to this project provides a valuable context for important ongoing faculty and student discussions around social justice,” said Dr. Brenda Farnell, Professor and Head of the Department of Anthropology at the university. “By generating large student interest in genetic and forensic sciences, this pilot program has the potential to have an increasingly broad social and scientific impact in the African American community.”
Ammons presented the resolution before the Immigration & Human Rights Committee on Feb. 7, 2024, at 3 p.m. at the Illinois State Capitol Building.
As chairwoman of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, Ammons is highly committed to fighting for reparations and advocating for the African American community’s growth. She has demonstrated leadership not only in the Urbana-Champaign community she represents, but statewide through measures including housing, health and welfare, education, employment and minority business enterprise.
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