In 1876 and 1880, my ancestors Major, Abraham, and Nelson Reddick (Republicans) went to the local general store to vote for U.S. Senator from the state of Florida. Years later, groups like the Ku Klux Klan would prevent them from voting and foment racism throughout the South. The Reddick men would be disenfranchised for the rest of their lives.
For nearly 100 years after President Hayes removed federal troops from the South and allowed the disenfranchisement of Black voters, my ancestors--including my grandparents and my mother and father--fought to be able to have the right to vote and be treated equally in this country. Even after the Equal Rights Amendment passed, they had to fight against sneaky, underhanded tricks designed to stop them from voting.
Fast forward 30 years and my generation (Generation X/Y) has shown itself to be apathetic and uninvolved. It's as if we don't even know how hard people fought for our equality. But in 2008, my generation has stepped forward to make history and help make possible something that Major Reddick probably never imagined could happen: to elect the first Black nominee for President (almost). I say almost because it is possible that they could take it away from him in Denver, but I think they'd have L.A.-style riots on their hands if they do that (I'll have to post about that as a guest poster on the American Brotha political blog).
How does all this relate to genealogy? Well, besides the fact that my ancestors voted, there's the awesome power that genealogy has to help you find your place in history. Knowing that my great-great-great-great-grandfather and his sons travelled by wagon 15 miles to Gainesville to testify about their vote in the contested election shows how important it was to them to exercise that right. Imagine the stories your great-great-great-great-grandchildren will tell about your part in history. Now that story is a post for AFTER Obama wins in November.
Welcome to Uncommon Roots, a blog focused on African-American genealogical research. We help you get started in genealogy and learn how to conquer the obstacles that are commonly faced in African-American research.
We believe that knowing your past helps you know yourself and your future. SANKOFA!