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African American Lives 2 -- Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
In Search of Our Roots -- Buy the companion book now from ShopPBS
Sharing Stories: One Family's Story
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STORYTELLER LOCATION YEAR TOOK PLACE TELLER'S PLACE OF ORIGIN HOW YOU HEARD
My mother and my cousin Bernice Tuskegee Alabama 1830s Tuskegee Alabama A traditional story passed down through the family

My great great great grandmother was a Native American slave. She was owned by an Irishman named Alabama. It is said that one night that slave owner came to my grannies' home and tried to have his way with her. It took three men to subdue her and after receiving a broken arm she finally succumbed. A child was conceived during this awful turmoil. A child that is said tho have fire running through his veins. My great great grandfather Mose was a man who worked hard and played hard. After being freed he started a brick making business as well as being a farmer. His businesses grew and prospered and he did well for himself and his family.

Pa Mose was celebrating a birthday. Having family in many counties surrounding Tuskegee Alabama it was a big gathering of family and friends. It is said that one of his grandsons brought with him to the celebration his girlfriend. It turns out this girlfriend was also Mose niece, a fact the two young people knew nothing about. The Talley family was a large family in that area. This was very disturbing to Mose. He felt that it was important, for this very reason that we as a family should get to know each other better. That we should get together not just at weddings and funerals but get together so that we learn to KNOW each other. He began that year to have a family gathering Family Reunion on the 4th Saturday in July. We have continued this tradition to this day. The Talley family reunion is moving into its 143rd Annual year in 2008.

The reunion then was filled with traditions like having the children recite a verse or poem, every young person! This was instituted by the teachers in the family. There was always a roasted pig and lots of pies and cakes and Brundy Stew for all to enjoy. There was a fish fry on Friday night a tradition that we still follow, and a picnic on Saturday with contests like pie eating and three legged races. We now have east coast/west coast basketball games and a talent show as part of the festivities. As always there is a family religious service on Sunday (we have several preachers in our family) that concludes the weekend as families travel back to their respective parts of the country.

I have been told that the blood that runs through my veins may have gotten its start in tragedy but that only serves to make us stronger and more determined as a family. This is evidenced in the ability to sustain a tradition such as ours for 143 years. I often wonder if Pa Mose knew the tradition he had begun so very long ago. Through the years and all the adversity we as a people faced in our country we continue to celebrate the tradition of FAMILY!!!

It amazes me that through all these years we have never missed a year of having the family reunion. It is a celebration of who we are young, old, rich or poor that moves from city to city throughout the country. A tradition of which we as a family are very proud. I think Pa Mose would be proud as well.

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Major corporate funding for African American Lives 2 and its outreach initiatives is provided by The Coca-Cola Company and Johnson & Johnson. Additional corporate funding is provided by Buick.
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