freedom · humanity

and still we smile


It’s been more than a week since I returned from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) meeting in Cincinnati. Just discussed at the University of Alabama Chapter Three of Remember Me to Miss Louisa with Lane McClelland’s class on morality and feminism. Reminded me of the strength required to survive difficult times. Louisa Picquet, the enslaved woman who was freed by her master in Cincinnati, had such strength. But so do many of us.

How much has changed since her 1847 flight to Cincinnati following her master‘s death? By her side: two children produced with him. How much has changed since Margaret Garner’s 1856 failed escape?

Pictured here are my ASALH meeting co-panelists – UA’s Dr. Hilary Green and Cindy Jones, doctoral student in UA’s School of Education – and I. We stand at a historical marker in Covington, KY, placed in memory of Garner. By her side: a two year old “near white” daughter she killed rather than see returned to slave territory. See, too, the Ohio River that she, Picquet and so many others in their circumstance or worse circumstances crossed over into “free” territory.

The Ohio River from my hotel room

How “free” is free in light of the race riots for which Cincinnati was known in the years leading to the Civil War? Today’s conversation with a group of women from many backgrounds in McClelland’s class prompts again these questions and more. And still we are able to smile. And reach across the aisle. Thank you, Lane.

PS I have enjoyed seeing the hits on the Youtube link for The Grant Green Story. I can only hope that as many people who are interested in learning about Grant the guitarist are as interested in learning about Grant the human being. He was a man of African descent, a father, a husband and a friend. I can only hope.

Dr. Hilary Green (I call us “Team Green”) and Cindy Jones standing on a bridge above the Ohio River, a waterway that many crossed toward “freedom.” And still we smile.

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