Shereen Hart

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All was not “warm and fuzzy” in west Georgia in the mid-1960s. I grew up in a family and environment that had nearly zero respect for Dr. King, the Civil Rights Movement, or what was happening in the nation at the time. All I ever heard was “They ought to leave them white folks alone and quit keepin’ up mess!” I’m proud to say I was nothing like them. I dug and dug until my nails bled, my fingers cracked and I had paper cuts for days. I would not be satisfied until I found out everything they didn’t want us to know and that many other Black folks didn’t seem to care about. I wanted to know how I could leave Michigan where I went to school with white kids in the 60s and end up in Georgia where schools were still segregated until the early 70s…talk about “reverse racism.” I’m glad curiosity got the best of me. My research, based on something our grandfather said on his death bed in his late 90s, turned up in our white heritage in the Bradley (Bradlee) family of Ft. Mitchell, AL, where both my grandmother and grandfather were born roughly about 50 years after slavery ended. It turns out we are related to WC Bradley through a brother of his, a disinherited brother who was disowned because, as Elizabeth Bradley Turner said in one of her books – “he kept getting in trouble for running down to the creek messing with the Negroes.” The Black woman that the brother impregnated was our great-great-grandmother. WC Bradley, as folks in Columbus know, was the founder of Char-Broil and was on the original founding board of the Coca-Cola Company, founded by John C Pemberton. Our grandfather said she wasn’t raped, that he actually loved her, and times being what they were, they could not marry. When I read the excerpt from Bradley-Turner’s book about the brother who kept “jumping the fence” down there and consequently getting in trouble with his family, it brought tears to my eyes. That white man, WC Bradley’s brother, was our great-great-grandfather. They had immigrated here from Scotland and Ireland and kind of “horse-traded,” if you will, an Indian Chief by the name of Uchee out of his land in Russell County, where my mother and her brothers and sisters were all born. The areas are still known as Uchee Hills and Uchee Creek, lying just south of Phenix City, AL. If our family had not been racially disinherited, I wouldn’t be remiss or too far off base to say that some of our older female relatives might have been the Black “Scarlett O’Hara” ‘s.

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