This morning, I woke up feeling really blue and not just because of the weather. I spent several hours in the library yesterday with my cousin, Monique pouring through the Stirling Family Papers. The Stirlings owned my third great-grandmother, Eliza Burton and I hope to find some information about her and other ancestors among the vast collection of the Louisiana based family that owned her. But wading through these reams of documents about the Stirling’s endless acres of land, the hundreds if not thousands of slaves they held in bondage to work their land, and a free person of color who sold other blacks to the Stirlings is really bringing me down. This morning I was feeling like why bother researching this stuff when it’s so depressing.
But then, I opened up the arts section of the New York Times, headline “SCHOMBURG CENTER IN HARLEM ACQUIRES MAYA ANGELOU ARCHIVE” and read this:
“Hold those things that tell your history and protect them. During slavery, who was able to read or write or keep anything? The ability to have somebody to tell your story to is so important. It says: `I was here. I may be sold tomorrow. But you know I was here.’” – Maya Angelou
I can’t do anything about the degradations of the past, but I can help protect that history and honor it by telling my family’s part in it. Thanks Maya Angelou for donating your work so that future generations can learn from it and also for helping me today to keep on keeping on!