A self discovery guide for Black Family Historians
My first introduction to astrology was through my Nana. She was a Libra and I was born a day before her. She proudly had keepsakes embellished with Libra scales around the house. Unsurprisingly over the years I would hear, after asking someone about their Zodiac sign, “I don’t believe in all of that. I believe in God.” Even these days I’m a little put off when hearing someone thinks of astrology as negative or evil. I don’t feel that way especially looking at the positions of the planets and stars through astronomy.
Last year, I attended the National Archives introduction and panel discussion on the Harriet Tubman visitor center in Maryland. One of the panelists shared insights about how Harriet used astronomy to guide her on the Underground Railroad. This was definitely intriguing and I wanted to learn more. It’s popular knowledge that she followed the North Star and the ‘drinking gourd’ which is the Big Dipper.
Another time sparking my interest in astrology was more personal. While researching my maternal grandmother’s family history in Westmoreland County, I came across slave plantations named after astrological signs. The plantations were part of the Robert Carter estate at Nomini Hall. Since then I’ve been working to uncover more about Carter’s interest in astrology and how that relates to the enslaved people that he owned.