African-American history has played an integral role in the shaping of politics, economics, and culture in the United States. Growing up, how did you learn about the accomplishments and struggles of African Americans? Were you in a classroom? Reading a book? Talking with relatives or friends? How has your understanding or knowledge of African-American history changed and/or developed over time? What do you think is the most effective way to pass along this rich and growing history to future generations?

Carolyn Towler-Johnson

My grandmother is the beautiful woman in the middle. We found out the name of our ancestor slave on my grandmother’s side who survived the middle passage. Her name is Hattie. Our great great grandmother was an Indian slave who married her master. My grandmother’s family went back to Africa because her brother had beat up a white man who attacked him for looking at a white girl. His brother, who could pass for white, decided to take the fall for it because he could disappear, while the rest of the family fled to Africa. My mother told us about the paper bag test, which in some sense exists today as far as who gets more privileges as a black person. It is said that we carry the energies of 7 generations past. No wonder some black people have a general distrust and hatred for white people. It is just as ludicrous for blacks to be comfortable and feel accepted in a white world as it is for veterans to be able to return to a normal life after returning from war. It makes me angry that this country does not address the harm that was done to blacks and continues to be done to blacks, when we are only 5 generations from slavery. I am also mad at our African ancestors who sold us into slavery, but that was the sequela of war. What makes it worse is the way black people were treated and the fact that they are still treated more harshly than any other group today.