Knowing where you come from is so important. Leave us a message to help record black history

Mabinty Quarshie, Shannon Rae Green and Claire Thornton, USA TODAY

As the United States commemorates the 400th anniversary of the landing of the first Africans in Virginia, we're still grappling with slavery's impact. 

Earlier this year, we asked you to share family oral histories with us. We heard stories of triumph, tragedy and the society that molded and shaped the lives of your ancestors. 

Genealogical experts say that remembering family stories can be more important than proving where your ancestors came from. In fact, oral histories are the backbone of researching familial roots. When stories are confirmed and fact checked, they become history.

Now we're retelling your stories to add to the historical record. Readers Phillip Liverpool, Vernon Butler, and Paul Alleyne tell stories of how their ancestors escaped slavery. A slave master's will, escaping down the Mississippi River, and enlisting for the British military helped three individuals break away from slavery.

USA TODAY's Deborah Barfield Berry was inspired to trace her family history while covering slavery's legacy in Hampton, Virginia. While talking to the Tucker family there, Berry realized she wanted to learn more about her own ancestry. She tells the story of that journey, and the amazing discovery she reached while doing genealogical research.

Want more? Sign up to help us continue the conversation around race in America

Sharing these stories is so important to record not just black history but American history. Leave a short message on the 1619 Voices Project at (202) 524-0992 answering this question: what do you wish more people knew about your racial heritage? USA TODAY editors will reach out to document your story.

This is all part of an ongoing project.

Explore more 1619 stories

The founding family you've never heard of: The black Tuckers of Hampton, Virginia

America's original sin: How an accidental encounter brought slavery to the United States

Slavery's explosive growth, in charts: How '20 and odd' became millions

Augmented reality: Experience the harrowing journey of the first enslaved Africans to land in America

Slavery in America: Behind USA TODAY’s 1619 series on black history

Black history 1619 project: Call our Google number, share your story

Follow Mabinty Quarshie on Twitter: @mabintyq. Follow Shannon Green on Twitter: @ShannonRaeGreen. Follow Claire Thornton on Twitter: @claire_thornto

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Black history 1619 project: Call our Google number, share your story