Always Remember Family Legacy
I can remember sitting in front of the television in 1977 and watching the T.V. series “Roots.”
For a whole week it held the entire nation was held captive and spellbound. I experienced a wide range of emotions ranging from anger to sympathy and finally empathy.
Someone reminded me that during that period of our history that God was still in control. It told the story of Alex Haley tracing his family lineage all the way back to the beginning of slavery and the cruelty that was bestowed upon them by their slave masters.
Out of that horrific tragedy, pain, suffering and being treated as though we were not human beings came the black family and the black church. The importance of strong black families and the impact they have on the quality of life in communities and the nation are becoming more obvious every day.
The home sets up a pattern that spills over into all other aspects of our society. Strong families appreciate the uniqueness and contributions of each family member — expressing feelings of appreciation in words and actions. Family members tell each other they are special. In the hurry of daily responsibilities, we often forget the importance of letting people know how much they are appreciated. It’s so easy to take each other for granted, especially in families.
The Black Church has historically been a source of strength for the African-American community. Today, there are seven major historic black denominations: the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church; the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMUZE) Church; the Christian Methodist (CLEMMY); the National Baptist Convention of America, Unincorporated (NCB); the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNEUMA); and the Church of God in Christ.
Mt. Silla Missionary Baptist Church in Union Springs has not only been a spiritual hub and source of worship for my family, numerous ancestors and family members have been eulogized there. Simmons Chapel in Tuskegee holds a pivotal place in my life as well where several generations of family on my father’s side worshiped and are buried.
Currently I’m a member of the Cheraw A.M.E. Zion church in Tuskegee. I became interested in knowing my “Roots” and where I came from also after seeing the T.V. show roots.
My parents told me stories that was handed down to them through generations. My mother said that her Great Grandmother Nellie Floyd Byrd was born a slave in Opelika and moved to Union Springs. Her long straight hair and light complexion suggest that she was taken advantage of by her slave master. She lived in the “Big house” and was served as a cook.
My great grandparents Mary and Sylvanus Banks shared Stories of hope for the future and the wisdom of past generations of ancestors for all of my extended family to hear through our family reunions.
My aunt Sallie Mae Thomas (my grandmother’s sister) served as the matriarch of the family for many years until her health began to fail her. Her loving daughters took care of he!r in their home until her death in 2006.
On my father’s side my great-great grandfather Harry Carlis, a preacher, was born in 1828 in slavery to the original slave-owners, the “Bryant’s.” According to the 1860 Census, Bryant’s sold 20 slaves, including Harry, to Paul P. Carloss. a slave owner. Thus, that is how we received the name “Carlis.”
There have been several variations of the spelling of the Carlis name, primarily due to illiteracy of our ancestors, ranging from Carloss, Carlos, Carliss, and Collins. Basically, whatever the census taker heard was the way they spelled it. Harry was joined in holy matrimony to his first wife Mindy Carlis.
Like his father my great grandfather Dan Carlis was born into slavery in 1858. In an oral history project conducted by Tuskegee Institute in 1973 my great aunt Annie Lou Miller told how her grandmother sold 80 acres of land to Booker T. Washington on which Tuskegee University sits today. It a fascinating and interesting oral history interview.
Our Family Prayer — Dear Lord, Thank you for this great family. We honor Your presence and grace bestowed upon us through the years. Once again, You have allowed us to gather and celebrate the legacies left by our fore-fathers and the legacies we will leave for future generations. You taught us the strength of our family is Love, Humility, Understanding, and Faith. As we stand in reverence of You, O Lord, We pray for Your blessings and guidance to continue our journey. This is our family prayer as we exemplify You in all that we do. Amen!
Lloyd Clements Jr.