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Byron Hurt and Althier Eady on their journey to trace the roots of the Hurt family tree

Byron Hurt stands center of the camera, his profile facing to the side. He is wearing a purple checkered shirt and white blazer.
Courtesy of Byron Hurt
Outside of filmmaking, Byron Hurt is an advocate for gender violence prevention and co-founded the Bystander Intervention Program with Jackson Katz, PhD.

On this edition of In Black America, producer and host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Byron Hurt and Althier Eady. The two were recently involved in the Nova film Lee and Liza’s Family Tree, a documentary that traces the lineage of the Hurt family. This is the second of two interviews from Byron Hurt and Althier Eady on In Black America.

A scanned black-and-white photo of Lee Hurt Sr. and Liza Waller Hurt.
NOVA
Portraits of Lee Hurt and Liza Waller, oldest known patriarch and matriarch of the Hurt-Waller family tree.

Many descendants of slavery find it difficult to trace their ancestry through traditional means. Though Hurt knew the names of his oldest-known ancestors, Lee Hurt Sr. and Liza Waller Hurt, he needed the help of genealogy and other living relatives. He connected with Althier Eady, Lee and Liza’s granddaughter and organizer of Hurt-Waller ancestry committee. The two of them used their family’s history as told by their elders coupled with the work of scientists to uncover more about their ancestry.

Though the two come from a large family with a wealth of stories, Hurt knows that his experience is not the norm. He encourages curious listeners to take the first step, no matter how small, when it comes to learning about their ancestry.

“By having very small, reunions and talking about your family members, talking about your ancestors, looking back at old photographs and sharing those old photographs and making sure that younger generations know who their family members are. And then, you know, just take it from there. I think the most important thing is to honor your family members by honoring the elders and making sure that you're getting as much information out of them as possible while they're here.”

More on this interview can be found wherever podcasts are available. The In Black America program airs on KUT on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. and Sundays at 6:30 a.m. You can also listen anytime on kut.org or wherever podcasts are available. Lee and Liza’s Family Tree is available to be streamed on the PBS website.

John L. Hanson is the producer and host of the nationally syndicated radio series In Black America. It’s heard on home station KUT at 10 p.m. Tuesdays and 6:30 a.m. Sundays — and weekly on close to 20 stations across the country. The weekly podcast of IBA, the only nationally broadcast Black-oriented public affairs radio program, is one of KUT’s most popular podcasts.
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