We are the descendants of enslaved Africans. We, and our fore-parents, were born on American soil. We are Americans and this is our story.
The photograph that accompanies this passage is of a cluster of slave-quarters that I shot while visiting my dad in Arkansas in 2013. Our cousin Ann drove us down Highway 165 to England, Arkansas to visit the family burial plot, and on the way back we stopped in Scott, Arkansas. The place is called Scott Plantation Settlement and the dwellings date back to 1840. It seemed to be a fitting image to include here.
My mom and I had loosely crafted a family tree a few months ago that I vowed to revisit when time permitted. It was incomplete. The most glaring omission was lineage back to slavery…pre-1865. I recently mentioned my dilemma to her, and she sent me some information. After pouring over the details of the information I had received, I saw her name: Hannah Johnson, born in Alabama 1845. EIGHTEEN FORTY-FIVE?! THAT’S IT! We made it back to slavery. Hannah is my great-great-great grandmother (on my mother’s side). In the coming days and weeks, I will be learning more about her. This has been a huge find for me, my family, and my children.
To Hannah Johnson: we hope that we have made you proud and we hope that we have embodied the vast expanse of your dreams.
I am an American Descendant of Slavery and I am due reparations for the unpaid toil of my ancestor Hannah and everyone before her.