“We are the children of those who chose to survive.” –Nana Poussaint, Daughters of the Dust
I am a storyteller who also loves reading and listening to great stories. My favorite writers, who I am sure to invoke in a post at some point on this blog, are writers who weave narratives as if they are weaving them with the care of a loom. That’s how I hope to care for my family’s narratives. Some of the stories I cherish most were passed on to me by those still living, while others have been passed on to me over the years by those who have since joined the ancestors.
These are the stories that personalize the history of slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow that so many of us read about in books. These are the stories that humanize the names in census records and other formal documents, making the records more than a list of people residing together in a home on a particular street. Unfortunately, humanizing black people’s experiences has been a necessary part of our journey since we arrived on these American shores.
What I value most about these stories is how they convey the joy, the love, the fear, and the hopefulness and resilience of family members who survived a system of human bondage (whether they were “free” or enslaved), family members who survived racial segregation and violence in the mid-Atlantic states of Maryland/Virginia, and family who survived acts of gender inequity and gender violence. They navigated their way through these oppressive systems all while working to provide their children and their children’s children opportunities that they never imagined for themselves.
As Nana Poussaint declared in Daughters of the Dust, “we are the children of those who chose to survive,” and as the daughter of my grandparents — Mary and James, Edna and Charles — and all of my aunts and uncles who chose to survive, I strive to keep their narratives of survival alive.
This blog, Bearing Witness to Our Stories: Sharing Family History and Genealogical Research, welcomes you to journey with me as I discover the lives of so many who came before me. I imagine this blog as a space for readers to converse about their family history and their experiences researching that history.
My goal is to share with you some of the resources I have come across and I welcome conversations with you, my readers, where I learn from you some of the resources or tactics you find helpful.
Please take some time to peruse the blog for some of the resources I listed. Also, I have listed my family’s surnames and geographical areas of research. You can expect two posts a month (every 1st and 3rd Monday) from me and the occasional post in between whenever I feel so inspired. I look forward to sharing my research with you.
Look out for my first post next Monday, August 6.