How an AncestryDNA test led to a mind-blowing discovery about his history.

In 1838, Georgetown University sold 272 slaves to the state of Louisiana.

And Jeremy Alexander — an executive assistant at Georgetown University — is a direct descendant of one of them.

All screenshots via Upworthy.


Alexander learned of his lineage thanks to an AncestryDNA test that he took in 2014. It was an astonishing discovery and one that gave him a clearer picture of his identity and, more importantly, the history of his family.

"It's a good sense of mind just to be able to call their names," he says. "To identify, to make them human."

What followed is a moving story of self-discovery — for Alexander, for the descendants of the 272, and for Georgetown. Check it out right here:

"He took a DNA test and found out he is a descendant of slaves who were owned and sold by the institution he currently works for."

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, May 31, 2017

It all started when Alexander wanted to know just how far back his roots go.

Since 2008, Alexander and his wife, Leslie, started building their Ancestry family tree right after their son was born. They wanted to trace their family history back as far as they possibly could in order to learn the names of distant ancestors over multiple generations.

Alexander building his family tree on Ancestry.com.

He'd been curious about where he came from and would even ask his elders to tell him stories about relatives he was never able to meet.

So it was no wonder that Alexander was ecstatic when he was finally able to take the AncestryDNA test to dive deeper into his heritage. And Ancestry made it easy to connect with a family member Alexander had never met, who had some interesting information about her own story — that turned out to be part of his story as well.

"I received an email [through Ancestry] from Melissa Kemp, my third cousin, that I was a descendant of the Georgetown 272 slaves that were sold back in 1838," he remembers. He was the descendant of Anna Mahoney, who later became Anna Mahoney Jones, a woman who, with her son Arnold and her sister Louisa, were transferred from Alexandria down to Louisiana in this sale.

The Katherine Jackson Ship manifest with Anna, Arnold, and Louisa Jones' names on it. Seeing this document, and the age of her son Arnold, had a profound impact on Alexander because his son was the same age Arnold was at that time. Image from National Archives and Records Administration, via Ancestry.com

"I couldn't believe that she just told me this information. I had to tell her, I said, 'You have to understand, Melissa, that I actually work for Georgetown University. That's where you're talking to me right now. I'm sitting here in my office.' She was blown away."

Soon after Alexander learned about his connection to Georgetown, the university also decided to finally make amends for its history of slavery and offered a formal apology.

"We hosted two major events," says Marcia Chatelain, associate professor for the history department at Georgetown. "The first was to offer a formal apology to the descendants of the 272, and then we rededicated two buildings on Georgetown's campus."

It was a truly powerful event for Alexander and one that moved him to tears. No doubt the message that Georgetown delivered was one he'll remember forever.

"As we seek to more deeply understand our story," said Georgetown president John J. DeGioia, "we too deepen our understanding of our shared American story."

"We offer this apology for the sins against your ancestors."

A deeper appreciation of our past can undoubtedly light the way toward a more unified future.

"It was so powerful," Alexander says about the event. "It brought me to tears because I never expected to hear anyone apologize, to say they are sorry to me for their acts of slavery."

"I look at that as a wonderful first step in terms of a healing process," he adds.

"When you really look at the whole event," he continues "and especially even the messages after that, everything was about, 'Let's get through this healing process together.'"

Now, Alexander is looking to the future and hopeful that his son, Jesse, will grow up in a different world.

Unlocking the richness of his past has changed Alexander's approach to fatherhood for the better. Plus, with Georgetown setting a new tone for the future, he is less worried about the challenges Jesse might face.

"My son is really going to have a great sense of pride to know that he came from strong people," Alexander says. "All we can wish is that he will do better in America. And that's what we wish for Jesse, is to have that better opportunity."

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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