One of the moments in my research that elicited pride (there have been many) was the time that I “found” my 2nd Great Grand uncle, Booker Sampson Brown, and his connection to the Civil War. I was recently re-watching the African American Lives 2 series and watched a similar discovery for Don Cheadle and his family. You can see it for yourself here. Here’s Chris Rock having the same joy:
I think a lot of the pride comes from knowing that your ancestors weren’t just victims…. weren’t just dragged along by this holocaust, but actually had the opportunity to put on a uniform, bare arms and fight for the freedom recently granted through war. It’s not nearly enough to erase the scars, but it gives me something to talk to my kids about when the questions inevitably come. Something personal. something beyond Roots, Dr. King and the differences between now and then.
When I visited the African American Civil War Memorial for the first time a few years ago, it struck me that this was a story not often told. No one ever told me until I went to find it myself. Over the holidays, I was able to visit again, this time with my Grandmother in tow. She is Booker’s Great-Grand niece. She’d never heard the story I’ve been able to piece together either (beyond hearing her Grandfather Hillary speak fondly of his older brother). Amazing how this stuff teaches the young and the old.