Gathering the story of your ancestors is quite a difficult task if you are African American. We are a people that were silenced from the moment we were brought to this country, and that silence was practiced well into the mid 1900s.
We were first striped of our religions, traditions, family name, as well family members. We were silenced. This silenced was perpetuated from generation to generation, later we used the silence trying to erase the pain of slavery. The pain of not knowing and the pain of knowing.
We later wanted so badly to be considered Americans, until we accepted this silencing, in order to gain some respectability through change. Changing who we are and changing who we were. This has made researching our family history even more difficult. There are still people in my family that will go to their graves with certain information. There are things that they refuse to talk about, or things that the continue to lie about.
It is time to put a face on our ancestors and tell their stories. Through the telling of their stories we gain strength and understanding of who we are as a people, who we are as a family, who we are as an individual. We gain insight into the struggle of our people, our aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins. How they were able to endure their plight and from what did they gain their strength.
I believe that it is through these stories that we learn how to understand, how to forgive, and how to love. It is my belief that family is what gave them the strength to endure. Since most African-Americans were stripped of their blood relatives during slavery, family then is what we call community now. I also believe that blood makes relatives, but love make family.
It is time to rebuild those bridges to our past, so we can better understand what brought us over.
Ask your family questions about their pasts, where they are from, what makes them happy, what are there hobbies, if they were taught something by an elder that they still enjoy, etc.
Here are 50 Questions to get you started, and hopefully you will share with me what you learned.
Even if you are not interested in becoming the family historian, this could be fun to do at the next family dinner, the next holiday gathering, or just a visit with an elder in your family. Let me know how much fun you have and share some of the answers.