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 Johnson

I learned a lot of history from my grandmother and my mother. History as taught in the schools was boring. I learned from my grandmother about her family’s struggles living in America. She just died this year after her 104th birthday. She and her family, who farmed in Oklahoma, went back to Africa as part of the Chief Sam Movement. Some could not go with Chief Sam because he would not take the girls. She had 15 siblings. Not all of them went to Africa but most of them did. It came out later that he was being paid to take blacks to Africa so that they would sell their land, which often had oil on it. When my grandmother’s family got to Africa they found that they could not farm the land. So, 4 years later they had to move back and lost their mother to illness on the way back. After that, the family fell apart. This was the 2nd or 3rd Jim Crow.