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Leadership Team

We are the leadership team behind the Oklahoma Freedmen Collective. We started organizing the Collective in 2019 to leverage digital assets in a way that advanced freedmen genealogy, storytelling, and community empowerment. 

Angela Walton-Raji

Choctaw Freedman

  • Blogger
  • YouTube

Angela Walton is a descendant of Choctaw Freedmen--former people enslaved in the Choctaw Nation, by Choctaw Indians. Since discovering her family records in 1991 at the National Archives, she has devoted herself over the years to research Freedmen from all of the former slave-holding tribes of Oklahoma. These are Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole Nations. She is the only nationally known genealogist  who has this specialty, and she had developed a unique perspective of telling stories about the former slaves--the Freedmen from these tribes.

Her books include "Black Indian Genealogy Research," "Freedmen of the Frontier (Volume I)," and "Freedmen of the Frontier (Volume II)," the latter two books grew out of a project in 2017 where she documented 52 Freedmen families, over 52 weeks---the entire year. In 2018, she decided to turn those 52 blog posts into a 2-volume book set reflecting stories of these 52 families she profiled. She is a blogger, and podcaster and she claims both Arkansas and Oklahoma as her home states. She has a degree in Spanish from St. Louis University and a Master of Education from Antioch. She is currently working on a memoir about her journey to document the Oklahoma-based Freedmen, and her own African-Choctaw family. Her research continues at the National Archives in Washington DC, and also from Maryland where she continues to research and write.

Nicka Smith

Member of the Cherokee Nation 

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • YouTube

Nicka Smith is a professional photographer, speaker, host, and documentarian with more than 20 years of experience as a genealogist. She has extensive experience in African ancestored genealogy, reverse genealogy, and family reunion planning and execution. She is also an expert in genealogical research in the Northeastern Louisiana area, sharing genealogy with youth, documenting the ancestral journey, and employing the use of new technology in genealogy and family history research. 

Nicka has diverse and varied experience in communications, with a background in publications, editing, graphic design, radio, and video production. She has edited and designed several volumes of family history that include narratives, photos, and genealogical information and has also transferred these things to an online environment. She is the host of BlackProGen LIVE, an innovative web show focused on people of color genealogy and family history.

Shelby Ward

Choctaw Freedman

  • Instagram

Shelby is a public interest environmental lawyer, entrepreneur, and family historian. She has a passion for design thinking and Star Trek. 

As a genealogist, Shelby documents and shares her family stories. She is a founder of the Beck Genealogical Society and has trained volunteers and staff at the Knoxville Family History Center on the subject of African Diaspora genealogy, history, and culture. She is a member of the Tennessee Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association and honors those that were removed on the Cherokee Trail of Tears through local preservation and commemoration efforts. She is the 2019 recipient of the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute’s Judge Lewis Nixon Scholarship. You can see her scrapbooking process for family stories on her Instagram: Scrapbooking Culture. 

Shelby is a lineal descendent of Wallace Willis, the person credited as the composer of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and other negro spirituals. Oklahoma designated “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” as the official state gospel song in 2011.

Robin Hughey

Choctaw-Chickasaw Freedman

  • Blogger

Robin is a registered nurse, mother, small business owner and active family an American history researcher.


Her family descends from Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedman. She is the president of the City of DeSoto Texas Historical Foundation and a member of the African American group of the Dallas Genealogical Society. Robin is a Blogger and blogs on her site about her families connections to the five slave holdings tribes.


Robin's family descend from Isabinda Blue Harlan a Choctaw Freedman and Elijah Harlan a Chickasaw Freedmen both are of mixed African and Native American ancestry.


Terry Ligon

Chickasaw Freedman Descendant 

  • Blogger

Keziah Anderson

Chickasaw Freedman

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Ken Ford

Muscogee (Creek) Freedman

Denise Friday

Muscogee (Creek) Freedman


Tirzah Anderson

Chickasaw Freedman


Ean McCants

Chickasaw Freedman

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