I Believe in My History
“Wow look at what I came from” I thought as my mother and I went through my family genealogy. These were my Great Great Grandparents and aunts and uncles who set the path for me. Looking back on my family history fills me with such sense of respect and reverence to know that I came from people put through a real struggle. I believe to be the person that I want to be in my life I have to know first where I came from through my heritage and African American history.
For all of my short but rewarding life I’ve been told by my Mother (especially) and my family “know your family history” and “You have to know where you came from to know where you’re going”. Every once and a while my Mother and I pull out all the family genealogy a binder of documents and census’ that we have collected over the years. And every year we would find something new and exciting about our family weather it was a name or a family we never knew about that could change our family forever. I cherish these times when my mother and I sit down at the dining room table and dig up the past. I have learned so much about my family, first that my Grandfather (whom I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing) was a war vet from World War II helping wounded soldiers in Italy. Also I have found many distant relatives all around the southern border from cousins to Great Great Great Great Uncles. I t gives me a since of completeness to know about my family heritage to know these people have made a difference in my life.
With my knowledge about my family history, it leads me to find the truth about my African American history and gain awareness on the people who are most influential in my life. Since I can remember history has been most important to me my favorite subject. But what makes history personal for me is learning about my history it gets me interested and intrigues me. I’m always reading books by and about remarkable people like Langston Hughes, W.E.B De Bois also abolitionist like Fredrick Douglas and great people like Martin Luther King Jr. And reading about history changing moments like the Little Rock Nine, Buffalo Soldiers and slavery. These things and people have always affected me given me a closer look in what my life could have been without them and why it is so much better with their help. I’ve learned that in a country where African Americans have been looked at as inferior to the greater race (whites) that we have come a long way. That the people who that took it in their own hands to change the world they lived so I could live a better life. I respect their diligence and patience to stop what should have never been happening “racism”.
With the way history is always changing and repeating itself, the people I see taking an initiative to step out and speak on these changing issues have the most influence on me. People like Tavis Smiley who continually brings together many prominent African American to discuss and resolve issues in the black community at the National Black Caucus. One of my favorite speakers at Tavis’s caucus Dick Gregory an comedian who has become an activist and diligent speaker really attacks the issues and does not beat around the bush when he wants to get his point across. Its people like these select few who make the changes and get people to think about the world we live in and what needs to be done to make a difference.
From my heritage to my history, I feel it makes up every part of who I am–a strong willed person that can do anything I put my mind to. Where I am headed I hope will show a legacy of hard working people that came before me and who everyday push me to do better and be better. I’m from Africa. I know where I come from, who I came from and what I came from. A long line of Kings and Queens that gave up a life worth living for the thief that took it. I will never forget where I came from because it makes up every part of me an African American!