National Day of Listening


                            National Day of Listening


                                 When The Elders Go, The Stories Go..

That is all to be said. We can't get it back. We have to do what we can now to Preserve our History.

 Every time I try to explain to a family member or conversate with a near stranger. I try to  convince them the importance of Oral History. I can't leave the importance of that out.
It was the first thing I did as a unknown  Family Historian without even knowing at the age of 9 what it was called. I was doing a “Oral History Interview” with my Father. 
Simply by just having a conversation with him over a family album. Seen in the photo below. 
Me and Daddy's 1st Oral Interview 1977

Daddy was talking about who his Parents where, I was so amazed at how him and Mom would laugh and smile while shaking their heads over their own lifetime stories of their Grandparents, things their Parents use to do and why they have lived their lives like they did. 

Mom and Daddy's Parents Vital Statistics he kept preserved.
 After going over all the pictures is when Daddy pulled this piece of a paper he had tucked inside our kitchen table bible,  History was all over in some kind of way in our home. He kept his Parents birth, his siblings and Moms parents recorded information always nearby.  I keep that piece of paper now. Its my "Historical Document". 


 Later, on that hot summer night I laid up in my bed looking up to the ceiling,  I realized my Parents and Grandparents had real lives. When they Passed I realized they had a full life. 
I was glad they were so open and wanted to share stories, they wanted their stories to be told. No one ever really quite asked them in such a matter. 
That led me to always gently sneak and ask questions from them at family gatherings, funerals, even when birth occurred in the family. It was always an opportunity to gather ORAL History from the Elders about OUR HISTORY, it brought the past back to the future in a colorful light.

Without me conducting Oral History Interviews throughout the years over the phone, in the car driving them to market, standing in the grocery line.They probably just thought I was really nosey.
 But in the end, they recognized what the  importance it was to tell the stories of old time. 
Without My Parents, our family would of LOST all the love, death ,birth, sadness and sorrow along with all the JOY in the World.Two generations of History LOST forever to Us. 
I sometimes wish I could of asked them more details about slavery. All they knew and said Proudly was Granddaddy was a SLAVE, but no more talk of that time was never fully explained by that generation. I feel like the National Day of Listening is a Great way to get the World to understand the Importance of Saving History and realize everyone has a story to tell. 

I feel so behind even tho I have took great strides in gathering my family's Oral History. So much has been lost over the past. I'm always feeling like I'm trying to play catch up. 

As I look back, many things could of cost your life back then in Slavery. Reading and Writing. The only thing they couldn't take from us back then was the “field hollers”, the Music. I feel like that is our introduction in a form of Oral History where they told  and shared our stories thru song. The Family Griot was an all important person in the family starting in Africa for many of our families, and we should be honored to keep that tradition going in our own families.

A lot of cultures their history hasn't been taken from them. It is my responsibility now to record our stories and pass them on to my children and granddaughter. Author Pearl Cleage said: “We Speak your Names”, I just want to keep "Speaking their Names" so they won't be forgotten in this family. My labor of love from this day forth. Hopefully my Spirit will see the Spirit in the next generation if I'm blessed to see old age to pass it on. 
That is my wish..... to keep it going. 
On my National Day of Listening, November 23, 2012 I’ll be taping and interviewing my 95 year old Aunt in Atlanta Mrs. Sarah Cate Lewis Miles, I’ll be Listening…….

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