Monday, July 3, 2017

Remembering Carrie

All across United States today, millions of people are celebrating the Independence of the United States of America from Great Britain and its kings. July Fourth is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence day 241 years ago on July 4, 1776.

The Continental Congress declared that thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and were no longer part of the British Empire.

Family and friends come together for outdoor cookouts with displays of fireworks to celebrate freedom every 4th of July.  My 5th maternal grandmother  Carrie and her son Thomas had their freedom taken away from them to help build a quality of life for others in the United States. Carrie was born circa 1833,  she was a forced slave on the plantation of Benjamin and Celia Bankston Richardson in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana. In the 1830s, the Liberty bell was adopted as a symbol by abolitionist societies.

The Liberty bell didn't ring for Carrie and her child on July 8, 1776.  Carrie, age 20 and her child Thomas, age 2 were appraised for $1,100 dollars in 1853 in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana. Thomas was around the age of 8 years old when slavery was emancipated in the United States on Jan 1, 1863. I thought about Carrie and Thomas today and asked myself what can I do to in memory of them?

On July 5, 1852, Fredrick Douglas gave a speech at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, held at the Rochester's Corinthian Hall;

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

Inventory of Benjamin and Celia Bankston

Fourth of July means to me what Thanksgiving means to the Native Americans. It's a day of pain, sorrow, and mourning. This day meant that three generations removed,  my ancestors were forced to be slaves in the Americas. On the east coast  of the shores of the Atlantic oceans. Thousands of ships with human cargo from West, Africa was docking with my ancestors on it packed; like sardines in a can. They endured the rough sea waters, dark spaces in the bottom of the ships infested with human waste, dead bodies, and screams of fear of the unknown.  Thick chains around their hands and feet. Children, women and men from the continent of Africa  where kidnapped and sold into slavery in the United States and other countries. 

At Jamestown, Virginia, 20 African captives were sold into slavery in the British North American colonies in 1612. The question is; "why does so many people of African descent celebrate their enslavement with cookouts, fireworks, new attire to celebrate their enslavement?? 

I know nothing of Carrie's mother or father. Nevertheless, I do know that Carrie was working on the plantation of Benjamin and Celia B. Richardson in the brutal heat picking cotton and doing other back breaking work in St. Helena Parish, La. 

Lack of knowledge of our own history plays a major role for family members who choose too celebrated their enslavement. They teach their children to celebrate it for generations to come. Often times when you try to enlighten them, they will give some reason or reasons they celebrate July 4th and the reasons they'll continue to celebrate it. 

If I may suggest arranged a educational black history documentaries screening on the subject can help the family to become acknowledgeable.  Followed by family lectures  and discussions about their own family history will help them to understand it clearly.  I hope that the descendants of Carrie reflect upon what life was life for her and her child Thomas.  And chose not to celebrate their enslavement but to uplift themselves through knowledge. I'll spend this day educating and sharing historic research and other information with the descendants of Carrie. 

Thomas grew up and married a woman named Amanda Breland Richardson in St. Helena. They gave birth to five children; Annie, Thomas, Golene, John and Sophia Richardson. My direct lineage comes directly through Thomas. 

Thomas married Emma Vining Richardson and they gave birth to four children;  Rosabelle, Josephine, Alma and Alexander Richardson.  I'm the granddaughter of Josephine Richardson Harrell.

If you are a descendant of Carrie and her son Thomas. Posting this blog on the memory of Carrie and Thomas is what I can do today. Share the family history with their descendants in memory of them.