Thank you Bell Atlantic!!!

It all started when the telephone rang… and I took Bell Atlantic’s advice and let my fingers do the walking.

I don’t know who was on the other end of the line, but I’d like to shake their hand, for sure!

There I was sitting between Nana and Granddaddy during what was supposed to be a ‘quick’ in and out visit. Yes. I really made the 60+ mile journey with every intention of saying hi, give a hug and head back home. Stop being judgemental. I wasn’t making good on the leaving front, though. Nana wanted to know about EVERYONE… so, I had to give her the details of each of the children. I was nearly finished dispensing with all the required information, when, as I said previously, the phone rang.

I’m not sure how things work in the homes of your grandparents, but in Nana’s house- you don’t dare leave whilst she’s on the phone. So there I was sitting on the couch, twiddling my thumbs.

I think I might have reached for a magazine (always handy) on the coffee table in front of me. That’s when I saw it.

You know I had to pick it up. The first thing I noticed was that Nana had written her name in it, but that’s not unusual, as she does it with all her books. Then I began flipping, nonchalantly, through the book.

I was just about ready to close the book and put it back on the table, when I noticed this:

 The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I knew those names. I have been researching them for two and a half years. I looked to my Nana for explanation, but she was still on the phone, grabbing away. My Granddaddy was no help, either, so engrossed in the football game was he.

I flipped through again and found a section of pictures. I won’t share them here, but just know, their stories are coming.

When Nana finally got off the phone, we had a FABULOUS discussion about our family history and the people in the book. And look and behold, Granddaddy even chimed in! He told me out of his own mouth that Rev. Tyler, who’ve I’ve long believed was an important Pastor in an area church (during the years of inception) was indeed the person I believed him to be. Nana also agreed with this. Though, it’s odd that two years ago, when I was going down this rabbit hole, Nana vehemently disagreed with my findings and Granddaddy was silent on the matter- only chiming in to tell me to look into his brother’s death, because they always believed something happened other than what they were told in regards to his WWII death.

I also learned that a particular set of relatives were steered clear of because they were crazy… I’m sure if you asked those relatives about Nana, they’d say she was uppity- so, you know take it with a grain of salt.

Oh and Nana let this book come home with me- a most shocking thing. Though she admonished me to return it in the same manner she gave it to me, no less than 10 times. I have a mind to copy all 100 pages. Is that wrong or illegal?

Well, it has been two days and I have finished the first read through of the book. I’m sure there will be at least three or four more reads, each time learning and grasping more of the stories to be told.

Until then, let me leave you with a few things I have already learned…

*The area where my family lives in Stafford, VA, is called Brooke (unofficial, but recognized by everyone who is a resident). But why is it called Brooke? Well apparently, there was a man by the name of Brooke, who owned obscenely amounts of land in Stafford and Fredericksburg. As was the custom of the day, Brooke was permitted to name his lands. Surprise, surprise, he named them after hisself.

The author, a cousin of mine, not only verified this information through traditional documentation in 1980, but also through the first hand account of her grandfather, who was a SLAVE on the premises when it all went down.

This book also talks about the one and only Pocahontas AND John Smith. Guess what? That encounter took place in Stafford, County and not near James Town as I  and others had grown up believing.

I am so in awe of this find and I can’t wait til I can flesh out the stories to share them with you all. Have you ever come across a unique find or discovery that opened a door into the daily lives of those before you? What did you find? What did you learn from it? I definitely want to hear all about it! Leave me a comment and tell me everything! Of course, I’d love it if you could hit the like/share/follow buttons too?

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The Revolution Won’t Be Televised

A big part of my life has been spent as an advocate. Whether advocating for more funding for schools, equality in schools, with local government on behalf of the minority, or any number of other ‘hot topics’- I have been there. Front and Center, tirelessly working to make where I live and what affects me better.

Kim is an activist

Here I am sitting with other community activists and advocates, during a press conference   (circa 2013). From left to right, I am the 6th person.

 

As I have worked on my tree, I have hoped that I would be fortunate to come across a revolutionary, like me. I dreamed of finding an ancestor that some how thwarted the efforts of the South during and after the Civil War. I longed to discover someone who participated in Freedom Marches, sit-ins and if I were extremely lucky- a Black Panther. Alas, the revolution will not be televised and the revolutionaries living within my many branches have not come forward with any of these harrowing stories- YET.

Even without any direct ancestors coming forward, I felt compelled to tell this story. Especially in light of recent events very near to the place I call home…

When D.T. came to the White House, I did not join the throngs of people who protested his presence- even though I wholeheartedly disagree with a great majority of things he says and does. When the Black Lives Matter marches came to my front door, I stayed home; regardless if how much of the outcries resounded within my soul. And when the debates started over statues became angry debates and cause for rallying cries- I stayed home and what’s more is that I kept my mouth shut and my opinions- of which there are many- to myself.

***Let me interject here to make it perfectly clear that this is not an invitation to debate anything and this post certainly is not designed to be a political pot stirrer- OF ANY KIND. You are entitled to your opinion and I, mine. The point isn’t what you or I support.***

Then came “the petition”. In my hometown, there sits a stone block on the corner of a well traversed street. People, some in my own immediate family, are trying to have this stone block removed. I still am not sure where I stand on the removal of this particular block. I have talked with people on both sides and living where I do now, I can see how each side’s argument, if you will, has the potential to be beneficial or detrimental. Being the social media savvy girl that I am, I posed the following inquiry to the social media world…

When we drive by that stone, I tell my kids what happened there. I want them to know real history and I think this block makes it real. I haven’t taken a stance on any of the monuments, publicly- and I won’t… But, I think this petition is misguided and not in the best interest of people of color… What do you think?

For the most part, interesting conversation ensued, even with people not agreeing with each other. We didn’t have to agree with each other to have great dialogue. It was a pretty terrific experience- especially given the temperament of people today and even more especially as current events unfold all around us.

But then, it wasn’t. I received the following response…

Literally standing with some of the least educated and morally disgusting people I’ve ever known in my life. Just think about that. Out of a thousand “friends” you stand with the legit worse.

This lovely statement was parlayed from an IMMEDIATE family member. I was shocked and unprepared. As an activist and advocate, I have been on the front lines of countless ‘battle grounds’ and this person, who has never involved or availed their self to anything not solely focused on themselves was attacking me so vehemently over a QUESTION? The nerve. The audacity.

But then it hit me. The revolution won’t be televised. There very well could be a slew of revolutionary branches in my tree, but over the years, those that maintain the gardens, have done their darndest to prune the tree of these unsightly and maybe even rogue branches. It is possible that these ancestors were attacked and felt it best to keep their part in the revolution hidden; not telling a soul of their involvement or perhaps the looks and conversations of disdain and disapproval were so weighty (especially from immediate family members) that the revolutionary was silenced before he or she even knew they had a voice.

Whatever the case, I am more encouraged in my hunt to find the disruptors. I picture them sitting on their respective branches in a Tom Sawyer kind of relaxed way, just waiting on me to come along and tell the world their stories.

The revolution won’t be televised… At least not until I uncover their identities!

Have you ever hoped to find something in your tree? Have you found things you wish you hadn’t? I’d love to hear about your experiences! Please leave me a comment and tell me your woes! If this resounded with you in any way, I would love for you to hit the like and share buttons!

  • Many thanks to Gil Scott- Heron for the creation of “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, which gave me the title of this little diddy… You can hear it here, if you’d like.
  • Additionally, as this post was not meant to stir the pot on any side of any argument, I did not include a picture of the ‘stone’. You can see the stone block here, if you wish.