I have learned from my ancestors and their stories.
Below is a photo of my paternal grandmother and her first husband. They weren’t perfect. But they have a story. And after hearing the story over and over again, you learn about life patterns, how they repeat and what to uphold in true honor.
I attended a play this past weekend a tribute to those who represented legacy on Black Wall Street in Tulsa. If you don’t know the legacy of Black Wall Street, (read here) please read it. It’s a legacy of African Americans who had wealth and prosperity in a community in North Tulsa, and lost it all due to envy , hate and racism.
Many would say they didn’t ‘lose it all’, but I beg to differ what “all” feels like -unless you’re present to witness it, yourself. “All” can be the hope in our hearts, the tragedy of loved ones lost, the memories of a painful and depressing past.
I’m certain hopelessness came in many forms, with many questions: Would they find love again? Would their children be alright? What would become of their legacy they intended to leave for generations, now?
I’m certain with my grandparents when they divorced they were pretty hopeless, too. Same questions, and concerns for family, a hope and a future. As a young child I never saw my grandparents together. One of them had already relocated to New York, while another was in Georgia. I had several memories however, of my grandfather still trying to flirt with her and being light with laughter, and trying to have fun with her. The love was still there.
Being resilient in the face of adversity takes a lot of fortitude. A lot of stamina and forthrightness. A determination and strength to rebuild, and start again. Although I didn’t know my grandparents as adults, yet, I know for a fact the seven sons they birthed help us to see a family unit that stands strong as a forthright people. My family members always told stories of a man and woman with dreams and wishes, despite the hardships. They are legacy bearers and my uncles and aunts always held up their virtue. It was common talk, in our family. The courage, the fortitude, the mercy and compassion,.. the love. The spiritual witness and faith, and most of all, the little & the BIG miracles of recovery and healing and hope. And for that I am grateful, and can witness the patterns over the years of teachers, leaders, community men and women who take to the front lines to work with families and uphold those same virtuous ideals.
I’m grateful before the legacy bearers. The ones that have come before. Even if some may have been caught in a fog of indifference, regret or lost dreams, at least they had them.
Yes, there may have been a trail of tears; but we have to understand ‘what virtue’ was left behind as well and what they stood for- recognizing what was ‘meant to be’ and attempt to take forward what they actually stood for. I have a photo of my grandmother on my mantle I see everyday as I get dressed and go to work. She is a reminder of my communal strength and hope for her people. I want to carry on that legacy in my future.
Black Wall Street was built again. Many were committed to seeing it rebuilt and it did come back together. Today, the history is preserved and I live only a few miles from there. In fact, we just opened a business on Black Wall Street in the Greenwood Neighborhood in North Tulsa.
After seeing the Black Wall Street play, and answering a few questions within my heart, I realized that there’s a lot of legacy left behind , but also a lot to reminisce with, and of course, to rebuild. And if I can be a proud part of that rebuilding, then I am grateful to continue that legacy.