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I Searched for Answers About My Enslaved Ancestor. What I Found Was More Questions

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Positivity     43.00%   
   Negativity   57.00%
The New York Times
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A few years ago, I began to look every so often at the two Census reports where my one known ancestor from Maryland appears: 1870 and 1880. Born in Maryland in 1769, 101 years old, Black. And later, as Mississippi was carved out of Georgia and Alabama out of Mississippi, she, a woman who at least by one account was born before the nation was a nation, was still living, an elderly freedwoman in Madison County, Ala.Read more: A New Report Finds That 45 States Are ‘Failing’ to Teach Students About the Period That Shaped Race Relations After the Civil WarEven if I doubt her age, there is the AncestryDNA evidence that says I descend from people who lived in early 18th century Virginia. Even the storied history of enslaved people from Maryland doesn’t keep it from seeming Northern. Re-declared many times as a fact, it echoes far beyond its moving borders.There was a particular place I had learned about as I was digging around in stories of Maryland, and I wanted to get to it in order to figure out what I was looking for here. But the truth is that this mundane place where I was served cranberry juice and fish by a young White man with flopping brown hair and an eager smile is exactly where my foreparents might have been wrenched away from everything they loved. That house is where we found artifacts that relate to the history of enslaved people in Maryland.” Her words were offered gingerly and with sensitivity. The woman, a Kentuckian with a thin gray bowl haircut and a smile so earnest it looked like it belonged on a 12-year-old, struggled a bit. But some, like the builders, the blacksmiths, the plantation botanists and the cooks, were required to hold vast knowledge and steady it in their minds and memory because pen and paper were denied.Read more: ‘I Will Not Allow That to Be Your Life.’ A Mother’s Letter to Her Black Sons on Growing Up in AmericaThe life task of the enslaved person was to stay alive and where possible love and find some joy. Tears welled up in my eyes, and I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I felt a momentary relief that if my ancestor, Easter or Esther, worked here, I didn’t know it.I wonder if Easter or Esther looked at the ships, like Frederick Douglass did, longingly. Without knowing how close or far Africa was in Easter’s life, my thoughts could not even be convincingly speculative.When it comes to memory and slavery, there are people who center their concern on the gaps and absences.

As said here by Imani Perry