Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I Shall Not Forget My Ancestors' Past

Earlier today, in a recent thread on social media, a statement was made in reference to America's "peculiar institution" that we know as slavery, and it was suggested that as a nation we should simply "get over it" and move on.

Now, I normally ignore such statements that trivialize the history of people of color, and I usually ignore those who cry "get over it" their blatant dismissal of my history. They usually come from individuals whose opinions are not important to me,  I "get over" them and their dismissal of my history and move on.

However, the one I saw today came from someone whom I know, and I was compelled to respond and to share why I shall never "get over it", I responded with an explanation of how I am honored to remember what happened to those whose history I study every day. And in addition, I am obligated to teach future generations also to never "get over it" because that term suggests, that the history of an entire people should never be mentioned, and their lives should never be consider as worth remembering.

I shall never subscribe to anyone forgetting their history and definitely not a critical institution in America, such as the enslavement of Africans upon this soil. Now that does not mean walking around with a grudge, but to ask anyone to dismiss and forget and get over it trivializes something that was vital to this country. If we cannot get over it that a war was fought then end slavery then those who descend from the enslaved dare not "get over" what happened! Remembering the painful past instills even deeper respect for the ancestors and their survival for they lived within the confines of a terrible system. I then gave some thought about what that statement to just "get over it" means to me, and so, I replied.

I have since been asked to post my reply so that it can be shared. It follows below:

I shall always honor my ancestors who went through so much! No discomfort of those who are "tired of hearing it" can ever impede my honoring them, nor mentioning it. I work with records from the slavery era every day. Every single day from slave schedules to probate records, to old newspapers, to Freedmen's Bureau. That does not mean that every where I go I bring up history. But---my history lives with me, and every person carries pieces of their history with them.

Every day, when I see the post Civil War records of people begging the Bureau to retrieve their children still held in bondage, years after the war ended, I know that freedom did not come easily and Lincoln did not "fix it". I research every day.

When I see the peonage records that reflected forced labor of men and women into the 20th century---no----I shall not forget it, and it SHALL be mentioned. I would never tell anyone to "forget" their history, simply because someone unaffected by an evil system is tired of hearing about it.

You know me enough to know that I don't "wear it on my sleeve." But clearly it shall not be forgotten and as one who sees it in records every day--as a researcher---the impact of what I research and see and learn is humbling and I am honored to call the names of my enslaved ancestors. I am also not ashamed to say that they were enslaved, for their fate in life was the result of an evil system, and their ability to live in spite of it, speaks to their resilience. 

Their strength makes me stronger when life challenges me. So yes, I shall call their names, and I shall point out that these courageous people were once enslaved.

To "get over them" is the ultimate insult to those who were legislated into "nothing-ness". By my continuous remembrance of them--I become a better person, because I must still live a good life as I move through life and interact with the sons and daughters or the descendants of those who enslaved others.

I have met the descendants of those who enslaved my ancestors. I remember, and they remember and we now work together.

I stand upon the shoulders of many people---among those were enslaved men, women and children, who survived. 

And I shall always remember.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
And so----today I shall call their names:
-Irving and Nancy Bass, enslaved by John Bass of Giles County Tennessee
-Patrick Drennen, enslaved by John Drennen of Van Buren Arkansas
-Kitty Perry, enslaved y Nail Perry, Choctaw Nation
-Amanda Perry Anchatubbe enslaved by Emeline Perry, Choctaw Nation

-Jackson Perry Crow enslaved by Nail Perry, Choctaw Nation
-Sallie Perry Walton enslaved by Emeline Perry
-Mitchell Bass, enslaved by Henry C. Pride, Horatio Arkansas
-Minerva Houston, enslaved by Elizabeth Houston Millwee, Horatio Arkansas
-Georgia Ann Houston enslaved by Elizabeth Houston Millwee, Horatio Arkansas
-Martha Campbell, enslaved by Robert Campbell, Maury County Tennessee
-Amanda Campbell Young enslaved by William Tandy Young, Ripley Mississippi
-Harriet Young Martin, enslaved by William Tandy Young, Ripley Mississippi
-Berry Kirk, enslaved by William Tandy Young
-Lydia Walters Talkington, enslaved by Mary Walters, Dripping Springs Arkansas
-Samuel Walton, enslaved by Josiah Harrell, Dripping Springs Arkansas & Jim Davis Choctaw Nation

           .......and I honor those whose names are yet to be discovered as I continue my genealogical journey.


Kristin said...

Ashe. Thank you for posting this Angela.

L. Garrett-Nelson said...

This is a wonderful tribute to your ancestors and those of all Americans whose families survived American slavery. Thank you for this.

Terrence A.T. Garnett said...

Simply beautiful! Thank you Angela!

Carolyn Schriber said...

Love this response. Your voice needs to be heard by all of us.

LindaRe said...

Thank you.