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African American Lives 2 -- Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
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Sharing Stories: One Family's Story
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My grandmother,my mother, my aunts, & also published in a newspaper. In Augustus, Georgia and later retold in The LaFayette Sun Times 1951 1859 Augustus Georgia, Appling County and LaFayette, Alabama, Chambers County oral history and documented material

Imagine with me, if you will, how you would feel if someone asked you how you got your name, and your response was, "At the time of my birth, my master's daughter was sent a letter which said, "Salina has birthed a girl. It is yours. What do you want to name it?" The daughter wrote back: "I have a very dear schoolmate here named Cora Annie. Name it for her," and so it was.

In April of 1859, my great great grandmother came into this world being "owned" by a school girl over at Mercer University, instead of belonging to her mother, Salina. When she entered the world, not only was she denied her freedom, but also the privilege and honor of having someone who loved her, to name her. Perhaps that is why, Cora Annie never thought much of her name, and perhaps, that is why she taught her children to honor the names that she gave them.

That lesson has been taught to the children of this family throughout the generations. As a child, I remember asking my mom why did she name her children the names that she did, and she responded, "Because I Could!" Little did I know the true significance of my mother's answer. The fact that my great, great, great grandmother Salina, had been denied the honor of naming her own child, was a story that my mother knew, and one that she would share with her children.

My great great grandmother, Cora Annie lived ninety-four glorious years. She entered this world as the property of a young school girl. The first seven years of her life, she lived as a slave. The next twenty, as a sharecropper. From 1880-1903, she gave birth to sixteen children (thirteen reaching adulthood) and she taught each of them to conduct themselves with the highest standards of womanhood and manhood.

She told them that their names (i.e. none of them being named Cora Annie) were gifts that God had let her and their daddy give them, and that they should always honor their names, and carry themselves with respect. She tried to provide her children with a good home and a good education, and was successful in doing so. All six of her daughters attended either Selma University or Spellman, and her seven sons were very successful in their line of work, as carpenters and brickmasons. By 1898, she and her husband were the owners of a seven room farmhouse which sat on the front end of their 500 acres.

From the wombs of Salina and Cora Annie have emerged over 700 individuals. Our family has grown to it's tenth generation, with family members living throughout the United States. Some of our names, pictures, accomplishments, and work rest in the sacred halls of Universities, Churches, Cathedrals, Museums, Hospitals, Archives, and High Schools, as well as other arenas. We have continued to honor our Ancestors as well as honoring the names chosen for us, by our Mothers. Who would have ever imagined that the children of the children who were denied so much, would have children whose children, who would do so much. Apparently, Salina and Cora Annie could imagined it, and so can we, if we will!

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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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