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?

Cedric Bell

Hello Mr. Gates and thank you for giving me a chance to share my family story.
Since I was a child my Grandfather (Johnny Bell) would tell me stories about his early childhood relating to how his father (Steve Bell) owned more land than whites in Sumter County Alabama. He used to say that his great grandfather (Henry Bell) was given land by his slave owner on his death bed. Ownership of the land (which was said to be several hundreds of acres) were held our family for several generations, but as time went on there were questions to what became of the land and who poems it til this day. During his last years of life he told me that I needed to investigate to what happened to the land and to find what he called was the “lost family.” After several years I asked my father to take a trip with me down Alabama to visit his birthplace with me. Before our journey we actually located my Grandfather’s only living brother who now lives in Chicago, Illinois and he stated that they will be having a family reunion. There is so much I have to share need to research…this is something that I would love to make a book or movie of….The Lost Family…The African named “Cherry,” The Slave master who raped her, The beginning of the Bell Clan…the Battle to Survive the Deep Southern Racism..the exodus out of the south…to Niagara Falls, NY..Canada..the survival of segregation..the schools that were built “The Bell Institute” in Sumter, NC…the blacksmith..the educators..the “land workers,” the scholars..these are the stories and many more I would tell..I pray that my story carries on…like I have learned so will I teach..