"In this great future you can't forget your past" ~No Woman, No Cry, Bob Marley

Monday, November 25, 2013

Living and Still Going--This is Why I Search

“We don’t see the same history….Our history is not dead facts in a book. Our history is alive and still going on. It’s in our songs and stories and the roots of every tree.” ~Grampa Sky

—From The Warriors, page 75 (by Joseph Bruchac)

As a Mom, reading tutor, after school class instructor, and classroom volunteer, I have had the pleasure of reading a number of books, over the years that were written for school-aged youth. The Warriors was one such book; it was one I read a couple of weeks ago to help a teacher decide if it should join the list of read aloud books for his classroom [not that it matters here, but yes, it would be a wonderful add to the list, as would a couple of Bruchac’s other titles]. Little did I know that it also held something for me, a beautiful gift in the form of the above quote, which holds in it a very rich trueness.
The quote comes from a passage in which Jake, a young boy of Native heritage (Iroquois Nation if memory serves), is sitting in his history class. As he is listening to his teacher, his mind wanders a bit, and he remembers what his Grampa Sky told him about how his people view history. When I read the quote, it nearly leaped off the page at me. It resonated immediately, deeply—it struck a beautiful and harmonious cord in the process. A number of thoughts crossed my mind about the significance and richness of this quote, including, “YES!! This is why, in large part, I research and try to share”. I was gifted the history bug by my Mother, who caught it from her father; I love learning about the history not just of my family and the times in which they lived, but of so many others and places. When I am learning about the Ancestors, it is literally something I can feel inside; I can feel a sense of excitement, joy and pride that seems to bubble up and over—it is certainly not a dead feeling, it is very much alive. I feel connected, in such a profound way, not only to those who have gone before, but also to things in a larger sense. Truthfully, there simply aren’t words to express exactly what it means or feels like.
As we learn more about from whence we came/come, cherish, respect, and honor those roots that so firmly hold our tree strong—those shoulders upholding the generations we continue to keep our history alive and keep it on going. As long as we tell their stories and share them with each other (we all hold differing pieces of the same puzzle), as long as we sing the little songs they sang at bedtime, bath time, or times of joy or sorrow; as long as we do these types of things and more, we continue to keep the history living, growing, thriving.
This, this is why I research and seek to know—why I seek to help keep the memory and works of the Ancestors alive—because as Grampa Sky said, “Our history is alive and still going on.”  Is it all a proverbial bowl of peaches and cream, or “hunky-dory”? Why no, no it is not, but it is all part of who we are. Our Ancestors lived, laughed, loved, cried, hurt, lost, gained, made mistakes, contributed to self, family and society, and more—in honoring and acknowledging them; in giving them voice and place, we, in some fashion honor and acknowledge ourselves, give ourselves voice and place.
In the coming weeks and months, some bits of the stories will be shared; it is my hope that you find the stories, which will be shared in this space enriching, enlightening, and from time to time, inspiring. The melodies of the notes sung in the songs of our history and the words that make up the passages of these very same stories will include those of Alfred SAMUELS and his brothers, Isaac and George (Alfred and Isaac both served in the Civil War--CW); Alfred, who was last enslaved by Mary SAMUELS.  The songs and stories, which will include those of Melinda (SNADON/SNORDAN) KIMBROUGH who was the mother of Isaac (Zeke) and grandmother of Frank KIMBROUGH and who was reportedly last enslaved by Thomas Gaines KIMBROUGH; of Free People of Color Families such as Richard and Mary (WRIGHT?) MORAN, whose son Rush served in the CW, and John Wesley and Julia (BANNISTER) ROBERTS. Not to mention, the songs and stories of Bass HARLIN and family, Bass, who was last enslaved in Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma) in the Cherokee Nation by Delilah HARLIN; George W. and Nancy (Nannie) (SEAMAN/NAPIER) GULLICK; Jesse and Anna (SMALLEY) DONALDSON, Jessie who served in the CW and was last enslaved by Levi DONALDSON, and so many more. The notes of the songs and the pieces of the stories are also made up of the various jobs held by the Ancestors, by the activities in which they participated, their religious and political beliefs as well as the daily goings on of the day, so be prepared to be graced with this information as well from time to time.
Connecting Past and Present,
This first picture is of Julia (BANNISTER) ROBERTS and John Wesley ROBERTS date unknown, standing in front of the home in which they homesteaded in Washington State. Julia and John Wesley were my 3rd great grandparents and are part of my maternal lineage. Received courtesy of M. Spearman, cousin and family researcher.
This second picture is of Isaac KIMBROUGH (seated on the far right)--he was my great grandfather, he and his siblings (Ephriam, Lucy, and Lillian), pictured here with him, are part of my paternal lineage. Date and location are unknown for this photo. Received courtesy of J. Jones, cousin.



  1. The Ancestors were CLEARLY speaking through Grandpa Sky & Joseph. They are also, strolling side by side with you too LaKesha! Enjoy this journey. When you have the ability to lean in & listen without exception, is when they speak the clearest. This is natural for you... I can feel it. Good times ahead my dear!:)

    1. Luckie,

      Thank you so much!! I am looking forward to sharing their stories, the pieces I know, and gaining wisdom and knowledge along the way (not to mention, make wonderful connections in the process).

  2. Beautiful story! I love your Grampa Sky's saying! "Our history is alive and still going on". This is so true. :)

    1. Thank you, Denise! This quote honestly leaped out at me. I've read it so many times (photocopied the page and title page before returning the book to the school library). It really resonates with me.

  3. very nice blog, Grandpa Sky said it all (-:

  4. Thank you so much. I agree with you; Grandpa Sky summed it up, and nicely!

  5. Grandpa Sky isn't the only one with a voice that resonates! what a wonderful post and explanation of why you do what you do! thank you very much for sharing this!

  6. Tracey,

    Thank you so very much for your kind words!


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