Today I am returning from a five-day visit with my family. It was a family reunion, minus my oldest son and my oldest cousin and his family.
We took a trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where I got to see more of my family… literally.
This is us outside the museum.
My aunt, me, my youngest son, my mother, my youngest sister, my daughter, my brother-in-law, my niece, my uncle, and my middle sister. Missing is my oldest son and both my cousins.
My great, great, great grandparents are the featured photo in the section titled “Creating a Segregated Society.” They were freed after the civil war.
Here is my grandfather (on my mother’s side) as a baby, with his mother and father. Laura mentioned in the photo below is the daughter of Laura in the photo above.
My great grandfather knew that education was key to success. My grandfather attend Cornell, one of the few schools that allowed black people to attend. Here is the banner my grandfather purchased when he graduated from Cornell in 1924. After my grandfather died, my aunt kept asking herself, "Why am I holding onto this banner?" Now we know why.
That evening, at my aunt’s home just outside of DC, we were joined by family members from my father’s side, plus one of my cousins.
We did what families do. We talked, spouted opinions, challenged those opinions, asked questions, and laughed. Here is a photo of us.
But this next photo is the one that moves me the most.
Three of their seven great, great, great, great-grandchildren are standing in front of their photo. (My daughter, my niece, and my youngest son.)
There is no way that my great, great, great, grandparents could have imagined the groundwork they were laying with their unshakable belief in a better life.
They were slaves, beaten, used, disregarded, and viewed like animals, and yet my family is still benefiting from their fierce belief in a better life after slavery ended. It has not an easy "better" life but it is a better life.
THIS is my family. I cannot express how lucky I feel to call them that.
I have been drinking from a well that I did not dig.
Now it is my turn to pass on the fierce optimism for a better life, one that I will not see.
I will continue to dig.
What well are you digging?