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Meet the Author: Andre Kearns

Andre Kearns is a genealogist, public speaker, commentator, and writer with deep roots in the American south and a passion for discovering new ancestors and learning their stories. As an African American, he knew he descended from enslaved persons and likely slave owners, which DNA analysis helped, confirm. Through his research, he also discovered ancestors who were free people of color long before the civil war. He has traced his ancestry back to the 1619 and the first Africans to arrive in colonial Virginia.  He serves on the board of the National Genealogical Society where he chairs its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, and is a Founding Member of the Society of the First African Families of English America as a descendant of Emanuel Cumbo. He holds a BA in Business Administration from Morehouse College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He regularly shares is Cumbo family research findings at He also blogs on Race, Culture, History and Genealogy at under the name Andre Kearns.

His article The Cumbo Family: Tracing One of the First African Descended Families In English America describes how the Cumbo ancestors were among the first Africans arriving in Virginia prior to 1630. Over successive generations, many Cumbo family branches either maintained Black or mixed-race (mulatto) identities, passed into white communities (Melungeon, Portuguese or Irish) or fully embraced Native-American (Lumbee, Tuscarora, Saponi or Meherrin) identities. Cumbo descendants today self-identify across all of these racial groups. Additionally, as the Cumbo family grew, so did variations of the name, which expanded to Cumba, Cumbee, Cumby, Cumbia, Combo, Cumber, McCumbee and others. This article explores the lineage and history of an African American Cumbo Family.