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A DNA test sent her on a search for Black relatives she didn't know she had

 Dayna Foster lives in Pinellas County.
Dayna Foster
Dayna Foster lives in Pinellas County.

February is Black History Month, and today, we hear from a woman who recently made a discovery about her ancestry that's prompted her to want to learn more.

"My name is Dayna Foster. I live in Gulfport, Florida and I am retired. I have been in Pinellas County for a little bit more than a year. My wife and I moved here in February last year.

"I was really disturbed when I heard that our governor had disapproved the advanced placement course for Black History. I don't like where things seem to be heading in this state with regard to that.

"But it made me think a little bit about what I learned in high school and then what I've learned since then, about Black history. And one thing that occurred to me is Black history is American history.

"And I think that I got shortchanged when I was in school. Now I can remember studying about George Washington Carver, that's one that a lot of people know. The poetry of of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Langston Hughes.

"And then I think a big part of what I remember at least was around the Civil War, and the fact that that was fought at least partly over slavery. So I think that there was a lot of content that could have been covered that was not when I was in school.

"And I have since sort of educated myself, not intentionally, necessarily, but by sort of osmosis. By having working with Black colleagues, having Black friends, being a part of a community that was diverse, I've learned so much more.

"And one of the interesting, one of the things that happened recently, for me a couple of years ago, I submitted a DNA sample to 23andMe, and Ancestry, and discovered that I have some Black ancestors. Unfortunately, I don't know who they are, because I'm adopted. And I know something about my birth mother, but nothing about my birth father.

"My birth certificate, in fact, indicates I'm illegitimate. And there was no father named, but I did find a couple of first cousins that are part of ancestry and 23andme. And I have reached out to at least one of those cousins and heard back from his daughter.

"So I'm trying to establish a relationship because I want to know about my my own personal history. I know that whatever Black ancestry I have came to me through my birth father.

"It's challenging, because I don't know anything about my birth father. So I'm trying to, through making contact with some of these first cousins, I have tried to find out a little bit more about their family and see if I can figure out where our two groups might have met.

"So that I think that as more and more people start to explore their ancestry, they will discover that, in fact, they have Black ancestors. And I hope this will encourage them to research or look beyond the family members that they know.

"And maybe through just through stories and things like that, to find out where where those black ancestors might have come in into the family.

"As I said, I have no idea of where mine did, but I'm very curious about that. And I would really like to explore it. I hope to explore that more as I move forward with this.

"Because this is America, and we are multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-ethnicities. And if we don't recognize that it's a shared history, then we're losing a part of ourselves. We're not only are we losing a part of what makes us America, but we're losing a part of us as individuals.

"In my case, I'm losing a part of me if I don't explore that."

Copyright 2023 WUSF 89.7. To see more, visit WUSF 89.7.

Kerry Sheridan is a reporter and co-host of All Things Considered at WUSF Public Media.