As this Black History Month winds down, I am struck by gratitude that there is so much that has yet to be discovered. I am filled with humility at the ancestors who fought and struggled to get us here. So this day I want to post about the prevalence of ancestral veneration in the Black community and the need for it.
Roots was an extremely popular book and movie. Alex Haley showed us how beautiful our family history could be – even in the most trying times, we still have a beautiful saga to share. And that is something that I have learned as I get older. That family history is your own personal Roots.
I love doing genealogy. My father bought me a subscription to Ancestry.com about five years ago and keeps it current for me. It started as a quest to find his grandmother and it has morphed into so much more. After finding his and my mothers roots all the way back to around the 1200’s, I started researching my biological tree. And the doors opened from there.
My ancestors had been wanting me to find them. I am sure of it, because so much information about them just came pouring in. I found out what happened to my biological great grandmother and this was something that no one – even her own brothers – knew. And I am a third generation adoptee. My grand mother was adopted by her grandparents when her mom left the country. My grandmother put her daughter, my biological mother up for adoption when my biological mother was two. And I was put up for adoption at birth. It’s a miracle that I know what I do about my family considering that adoption severs all ties with the biological family.
My ancestors wanted to be found. I am sure of it.
I have since filled in more of my tree and added new a new grandmother that I feel very connected to.
According to Paul K. Williams, in “Ancestor Worship: the Religion of Africa,” ancestral worship is the “almost universal religion of Africa.” So my roots demand that I honor those that came before me. I have always felt this very strongly and feel it is something that is one of the most beautiful parts of my heritage. Something I felt I lost by not being raised in my community.
For more information about Ancestor Veneration: http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/a/ancestor_worship.html
So today, reflect on those that came before you and give them some honor in the way of our ancestors.