Afi-Odelia E. Scruggs

Afi-Odelia E. Scruggs

Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
November 3, 2003

Q. Who is Afi-Odelia E. Scruggs?

A. First and foremost, I'm a black woman who is committed to her people and her culture. I'm not an activist nor a revolutionary, but I do feel a responsiblity to do the best I can for my ancestors and my race. I try to be an honest writer. I try to live my life with integrity. And I do have a great sense of humor. I like to have fun and I often see the funny side of things.

Q. What inspired you to write CLAIMING KIN?

A. CLAIMING KIN grew out of completely unrelated project. I wanted to write a how-to book on performing black gospel music. That project chnaged into a book of essays on specific gospel songs. I was writing the essay on a song I associate with my father, when I realized that the book should really be about the emotions associated with my genealogical research.

Q. How did you come about the title?

A. When I started researching my family, I found the names of relatives - close relatives - whom I hadn't known existed. I had to embrace them, hence "Claiming Kin." I also uncovered secrets about my family members that forced me to reexamine all my assumptions about my identity. That's where I got the second part of the title, "Confronting the History of an African-American Family.

Q. Will you continue to do genealogy research on your ancestors?

A. I do research, though not as much as I did previously. Now I've switched to one of the branches of my mother's family.

Q. How long have you been writing?

A. I started writing poetry in the late 1970s. I switched to prose in the 1980s, about the time I became a journalist. So, it's been 25 years! Wow! It doesn't seem like I've been writing that long!

Q. Do you write in any other genres?

A. Yes. I've written a children's book called "Jump Rope Magic" I have a collection of essays on knitting that will be published soon.

Q. What type of atmosphere do you require to write?

A. I like coffee shops where there is a little noise: background music, other people, etc. I have a hard time writing at home. It's too quiet.

Q. Are you currently composing another book?

A. My book on knitting comes out in Winter, 2004. I'm working on a children's book, too.

Q. What message would you like readers to receive from reading CLAIMING KIN?

A. I'd like readers to understand every family has a story. It might not be a good story or an impressive story, but it's important because it is history. I'd also like readers to know that they can discover the story of their family if they are willing to put in the time and the work.