Moved to Tears

Eva Robinson Taylor, courtesy Gayle  Jessup White
Eva Robinson Taylor, courtesy Gayle Jessup White

When I read Gayle Jessup White’s essay in a recent post on “The Root,” I had such strong identification with it that I was moved to tears:

Like most African Americans, oral history is my primary source for deep family roots. There are no birth certificates, marriage licenses or census records. Our great-great grandmothers, great-great grandfathers, aunts, uncles and cousins were items on manifests, bills of sale and plantation ledgers. Sometimes, our forefathers or their families owned our foremothers. This was apparently the case in my family. But I wasn’t to learn that for decades.

Like White, my forefather owned my foremother.  This oral history handed down in my family was confirmed working with my linked descendants.  It wasn’t so much the evidence as the experience of working with my linked descendants to uncover our shared history that was so meaningful to me as White so eloquently conveys. Click here to read White’s full essay.

Cousins

I started digging deep into my paternal family history in 2008 in hopes of finding information about my great, great grandmother, Tempy Burton who had been a slave. The search took me from Maryland to Mississippi and introduced me to cousins I didn’t know I had. But I never expected to encounter descendants of the family who had once owned Tempy.  I wrote about our work together to reclaim our common history and our complex connection in a recent issue of MORE magazine.