Did you read my Part 1 post yesterday? If not, read it before diving into this one, so you don’t get confused and lost.
If you read yesterday’s post, let’s get back to my time travel to the early 1800s. And let me answer you before you ask. Yes, I’m also trying to track the other black folks that were listed as the enslaved property of my 5x great grandparents.
I do know that some Black slaveholders would buy enslaved people to free them from white owners, and provide them safety and security. But I also know that some Black folks owned other Black folks and saw it as pure economics. I haven’t located enough of the records to ascertain which “folk” my great grandfather was. When he passed in 1832, he left his wife almost 700 acres of land, hundreds of cattle, hogs, horses, and three enslaved people (two men and a woman).
In 1840, the census shows my grandmother and everyone (over 30 children and adults) residing with her on her property as Free Colored Persons. In 1850 it shows her owning three slaves. I assume these are the same three listed in my grandfather’s estate. I’m going to find out those details. I can guarantee you, once I do find that information I will be sure to update you.
Some people shy away from that period of time. I run towards it and in a positive way. It’s history; their story, my story, and I’m not ashamed of it or angered by it—well, let me clarify that last point. I am extremely angry, disgusted, and dismayed by what I’ve learned about the enslavement and treatment of Africans and African Americans, from the moment we were snatched up as property and dehumanized, to how the US (and other countries) have chosen to not reconcile the wrongs and heal the wounds inflicted upon us, then and since.
Let’s be crystal clear about that.
But, I will not allow my feelings of hurt and disappointment change my heart. What was, has, and still being done to us (and dismissed through rational-lies) hurts my heart. Yes, for those of you who are quick to yell “What about what Blacks have done to each other” as though Black people are naive, dumb, incapable of distinguishing and properly addressing our grievances— yes, my heart hurts for the pain that Black people cause each other. And let me double back real quick, the defense of “We did but y’all did some of it too” is plain ignorant and cowardly. It’s an attempt to reduce responsibility and accountability. Guess what? That too hurts my heart.
I’m also hurt by the pain that religious people, Christians and the like, have caused, pimping God(s) in the process. No one’s God(s) would want people to be mistreated as we have witnessed before and since the 1600s. There’s not one god you’re praying to that condones the nonsense of this world. Let’s get in agreement with that.
All of the damaging energy that humankind uses against its own (and other species) is disturbing to my heart. But it will not control it. I will not allow myself to become the very energy that chose and chooses evil. I loathe that energy but I will not hate the people who choose that energy. That energy wants me to hate, to become that which I hate. I rebuke that. My heart and mind must work together, to be controlled by me, not the world.
Now that we’re clear about that, let’s get back to the story….
My grandparents both died before they could hear the battle cries of war and later, freedom. My grandfather passed away in 1832, when Andrew Jackson was President, and Harriet Tubman was still enslaved in Maryland. She didn’t escape (the first time) until 1849. Frederick Douglass escaped to the North in September 1838 (changing his last name from Bailey to Douglass) and hadn’t written his first book until 1845. So these two legends rose up after my grandfather had long passed.
When my grandmother passed away in 1858, James Buchanan was President, it was the year Harriet Tubman met John Brown, and one year later helped him with his raid on Harper’s Ferry. Two years later Abraham Lincoln would become President. The civil war was from 1861 to 1865, with the emancipation proclamation issued in 1863. My grandparents children and grandchildren grew up and lived through those periods. But none of them experienced it as the property of someone else. That had to weigh heavily on them.
One day I will share with you my take on ole’ Jim Bowie, the American hero, who fought alongside Davey Crockett and others. I will share how I’ve traced my Scottish Bowie’s (his part of our family) to North Carolina, up to Maryland (where the first Bowie’s arrived) and then all the way back to the town in Scotland where the patriarch, John Bowie Sr. lived before coming to the colonies around 1705. I will also share how I’m connecting to my Scottish roots. I know my history, my ethnic DNA doesn’t lie. I’ve got Scotland in my bones. Just as I have Ireland, England, Wales, Germany, and other European nations woven inside of me.
But I won’t share today.
Today is about me smiling, visualizing that huge chunk of a moment when the shackles of slavery were removed off a branch of my super huge family tree.
I wonder what my 5x grandparents’ prayers were like leading up to and immediately after those days; I wonder how they prayed knowing themselves to be free but knowing others near and far were still being bought, sold, and traded. I wonder their thoughts about these other people never being able to see the lands they came from or that their parents and grandparents came from. I wonder if my grandparents ever thought about the reality that they would never know their native language, culture, and customs—and neither would millions of other enslaved and free Black people.
Imagine reconciling that in your mind. I wonder what their dreams showed them. I wonder if they imagined me, their future, far-removed from their time, and what they hoped for my generation. I benefit today from all that they sacrificed, lost, and labored. I hope they are proud of my journey and the ways I honor them and their legacy.
Okay, so you read my answer. I gave you two days worth of immersed historical dreaming, fact-sharing, and truth-speaking. Now’s your turn. If you could witness a time in history when would it be? Share the details in the comments section below.
Copyright © Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.