It’s interesting how a simple, offhand remark can send you down important paths. My father, who was skeptical of the whole genealogy “thing,” dropped the “all the firstborn males in our family were named Sam” clue on me almost as an afterthought. The author of a remarkable book that came out during the Roots craze took that and ran with it, and urged me to take it from there.

You’ve got some amazing Chicago history to be proud of — landmarks I know. I have a godfather who built the first hospital built for and run by African Americans, back in the day. These people are the ones who “whisper” to me, even the ones who aren’t blood kin. I love them all…

Award-winning former features reporter for the Chicago Sun Times and Arizona Daily Star, HuffPo contributor and author.

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