Niagara Gazette

Opinion

February 5, 2014

BRADBERRY: Secure the future, preserve our cultural heritage

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Why were so many of the families in the black neighborhoods from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Florida?

Why did my mother’s mother look like an Indian, or Native American, as we say now, and why did some of my cousins act and drink like they were portrayed on television and in the movies?

What was my parent’s fascination with The Reservation where so many of their Tuscaroran friends still lived like they did in the good old days with little electricity, running water or other basic public services that we took for granted?

My grandmother used to talk about Harriet Tubman like she knew her. She did! My mom told me Cab Calloway used to visit her parent’s house when she was a little girl. He did!

My dad told me his grandparents were slaves. They were, well, at least one of them was, though they were all enslaved by the sharecropper system that dominated agriculture and the American economy in those days.

There are thousands of stories yet unknown by those most likely to benefit from them; they need to be known, told and preserved for our future and for our children’s’ sake. The mistakes and misfortunes of a history forgotten or ignored are bound to be repeated.

The Civil Rights Movements and the infamous Urban Renewal (aka Negro Removal) Programs of the 1960s had the effect of virtually and entirely eradicating whole communities. As we marched toward integration, we left many of our roots behind.

Having been born on the northern edge of the Underground Railroad near the brink of the cataracts, the descendent of Native Americans, Europeans, and fugitive slaves, did not strike me as anything unusual 50 years ago.

I was not aware, then, of my place or the role I, or any single person could play in the development of the whole dadgum United States of America, if not, the entire world.

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