A self discovery guide for Black Family Historians
August 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which recognized women’s right to vote. The Suffrage Movement grew out of the Anti-Slavery Movement where White Women left Black Women behind.
Racism and Sexism were Bound Together in the Fight to Vote. Black Suffragettes that White Suffragettes Tried to Leave Behind
Forever Moving Forward
In the midst of the COVID pandemic and continually protect of racial injustice its now or never to help get out the vote. Pardon the cliche but hopefully it can bridge the class divide within the Black community.
In the past several months, some of my own veils have been ripped off with the threat of contracting COVID and wrongful deaths by the hands of the police especially Breonna Taylor's. I'm really feeling how close I am to the reality of succumbing to either of these travesties. While I've always known that being born into a black body is historically political, now is the time that it rings real feelings of threat at least for me. I ask myself: 'What if I catch COVID and need emergency intensive medical treatment?' 'What if the police break into my home and begin shooting without warning?' Then I have to ask myself, 'Have these scenarios ever been unique prospects for a Black woman to consider'? The bottom line is why not? After 156 years since Emancipation as a Black woman descended from enslaved and free people the price on my life has discretionary value, even today, simply due to the color of my skin.
How do I know, you may ask. For one. These are some of the questions that knowing my family history helps to lend fact. After researching, organizing and analyzing my own genealogy findings, I know the names of some of my ancestors that were enslaved, I know the names of several that were free or born free before the Civil War and I know the names of several that fought in all of the American wars post the Revolutionary War. Although I am a hairline close to locating a patriot connection in my family line. All this to say, the 'good fight' for justice and the protection of rights is seemingly a never ending battle but one that needs to be chronicled generation after generation because not only does our life matter, we are the lives rooted to all those that have built this country. Its not a comparison or an argument. A plain ole FACT. To that end. I salute the honor of my own ancestors and those more familiar to history in this post.
'Since Trump has taken office I too have witnessed and experienced frequent hostilities by white people. Racial slurs and the finger frustration driveby's are no longer a surprise. Some white people were literally very so frustrated with having to mask their racial microagressions when a Black president was in office. As I spend most of my time reading, researching and writing about the past experiences of Black family histories, I shouldn't be surprised. But I am and I do get surprised when I find myself being really clear about our present reality. 'When someone wins someone loses' is one of my favorite doses of reality. But lets look at the history of the suffrage movement. While I won't give a history or a sociology lesson, we can agree to be familiar with several of the leading Black suffragettes. And are we now more aware with recent media coverage on the historical participation of Black sororities in getting out in support of the rights for black men and women to have the vote. Then we experience white women giving up on supporting even Black men in voting rights in order to safeguard their own.
All this to say, where are we now? Where do we stand in crossing class lines within our own community, in a reciprocal way? Its not just a matter of hierarchy. Those that feel looked down upon also need to lend extra patience and consideration to receive the message and without focusing on the body of the messenger. We all know the loaded terms.... ratchet, bougie, nasty, to name a few. Now if we can make some of these moves with rhyme and rhythm for social media, for goodness sakes lets do the necessary work to help bridge the victory for the Biden-Harris ticket.
In the news
'The centennial, coming the same year as the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment — the amendment that granted Black men the right to vote — marks just one of several major anniversaries in America's complex voting rights history.' via P.R. Lockhart NBC News
"For Black women, our right to vote is only secured with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965," said Valethia Watkins - Director, Howard University Women’s Studies Graduate Certificate Program| Africana Studies Professor.
Family History Journal Prompts:
What do you remember about voting and presidential elections in your family memories?
President Obama has been very vocal about his multi-racial heritage, which is referenced in this portrait through the various flowers painted by Kehinde Wiley. Consider your personal heritage. Create a portrait collage using visual symbols representing your family’s background.
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