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Valencia King Nelson

Webmaster, AfriGeneas Listmaven
Online Genealogy Pioneer

Angela Walton-Raji remembers first meeting Valencia on Prodigy, and then bumped into her again on the old Bulletin Boards when a small network of black computer folks established a black bulletin board called Afronet.

"Valencia, was a pioneer in launching the development of black genealogy, back in the days when she, and Clint Hayes, were the few who really understood the technical capacity of what networking online could produce," Angela recalled. "She and a few of the technoids realized that the Bulletin Board network, that covered many subjects could easily include genealogy as a subject. With a few adjustments, the Black genealogy community was born, with Valencia, setting the tone, and paving the way. She connected persons from New York, to Ohio, to parts south as well."

Electra Kimble Price also remembers those "Prodigy days" ten years ago when she and Valencia were both trying to learn the computer. She provided a 1991 article from the Anniston Star in which Valencia was profiled:

"... Today, Mrs. Nelson is looking for "ghosts" of her own. She is one of a few Anniston area blacks who are researching their family trees -- and finding their roots in slavery ... A retired social worker who was born in Anniston but lived in Santa Barabara, Calif., for the last 30 years, Mrs. Nelson said she has only been researching the family for about three years and still considers herself 'a beginner'."

Electra also shared that Valencia was very into newsletters in those pre-mail list, pre-website days, editing up to four at one time for family and friends. Here's an excerpt from one of her 1991 Computer Time columns in which she displays the same mentoring qualities she does today:

"Well I tell you and I advertise that every home should have a computer and the PRODIGY Program ... it has the capability to chat by computer with other people in any of the fifty states just by typing the messages on the screen. I have met many friends through this means and I am able to communicate with other people on a BBS (bulletin board) who assist with Genealogy. If you have not yet had a chance to view this electronic wonder I urge you to give it a try ..."

Valencia Benham Nelson - Anniston Star, February 24, 1991
[ and she's STILL a Mac-addict - ed. ]

Today, in addition to her multi-faceted duties at AfriGeneas, Valencia who is also known as GFS VKN is the Ethnic Team Coordinator and Forum Personnel Administrator for the Genealogy Forum on AOL. Offline, she is a member of and Correspondence Chair for the AlaBenton Genealogical Society in Anniston.


With poise, and ease, and general compassion, she welcomed all into her area, making the online African American genealogy community a real one, and a warm one. She is a pioneer, whose shoes cannot be filled, but whose footsteps we all wish to follow.
   ~ Angela Y. Walton-Raji

Diligent, Warm, Understanding of all of us on this list -- even the nuts. Open to New Ideas, Encouraging, Resourceful, Always growing, Faithful to take time to post our messages above all.
   ~ Dee Parmer Woodtor

This is an unauthorized, opinionated but sincere impression of a lady I had the pleasure to meet and share some time with while in the Red Clay state of Alabama. It is not often that life affords you the opportunity to meet "genuine" people, kindred spirits. It is also not often that you meet those, not only with vision, but with the determination to see their vision through. We that use AfriGeneas as a resource need to be thankful for the vision of this Quiet Storm. I felt the need to share this the AfriGeneas family, because it is so easy to take things for granted, and just move right along. I think it is important that we not only take time to smell the roses, but thank those that planted the rose bush.

Valencia King-Nelson (VKN), self proclaimed, "chief cook, and bottle washer," is a unique person. Still going strong at 71 years old, her undaunted spirit has managed to attract the kind of quality and support needed to keep AfriGeneas alive and well; not without trial and error, I assure you. I was most impressed by her ability to turn situations that we mere mortals could consider burdens, into an opportunity for all to share at no expense to themselves. Some folks can't budge or dream without the almighty dollar being a factor and at the forefront. I was equally astounded by her sense of encouragement, resourcefulness, and motivating spirit. Most folks are quick to tell you what you can't do, before they tell you what you can do. Her kindness and maternal instinct are also noteworthy.

Usually when strangers meet for the first time there is this period of adjustment that takes place and a sense of awkwardness, while you feel each other out. This was not the case when I met VKN. I felt like I was home, and had been there many times before. There was no ceremonial welcome or official good bye. She and her husband are just that way, warm, friendly, hospitable. We literally laughed all afternoon.

VKN's six children, and her grandchildren should be more than proud to have such a beautiful Mother and Grandmother. I was certainly proud to meet such a Great Lady. I am still grinning.
   ~ Gloria Winston Al-Sarag (July 1999)

The entire AfriGeneas community shares the sentiment expressed by Dee Woodtor:

Valencia, you are wonderful!

Created: 11 May 2000 | Updated: 30 July 2000
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