Saturday, February 2, 2019
Welcome to February !
It's Black History Month
It's February. Before this brief month is out, I'm sure you will realize it is the month designated as Black History Month. But in case you might miss that announcement, I'm just the one to introduce it to you.
Actually, I couldn't help but start my journey on this designation early. I really wanted to start this project—the search for King Stockton—in February. But I just couldn't wait. I've known this story for far too long to make myself hold off on it for the past week. Even though it may reveal some distressing detail, this story has been a part of me for far too long to not run with it, once I got the chance.
The rest of this journey, I hope, will allow me to post what I find about at least one family's story that may add to another researcher's quest to find their roots, pre-Civil War. It's the least I can do.
As I start working my way into the past from the 1870 census with the find of this new name—King Stockton—I am realizing how intertwined all our family histories become. We have relatives, yes—but also friends, neighbors, business associates, and, in some cases, people who worked for our ancestors. Our ancestors shared in those people's stories just as much as those people shared in our own family history. Like trying to rebuild a smashed mosaic from antiquity, we find pieces to help with our research—but we may also unearth pieces that, if passed along, could help others find the answer to their family history mysteries.
We just need to find a way to connect.
Now more likely called African American History Month in the United States, this event is observed in February in the United States and in Canada, but it is commemorated internationally in Europe, as well—in October in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the Republic of Ireland.
The month was first widely celebrated in 1976 as a way to remember the events and achievements of important people in the history of the African diaspora. However, just as critics point out that sequestering these commemorations into one month implies that they won't be acknowledged during the rest of the year—or that "Black History" should only be compartmentalized and not mainstreamed into the overall history of our country—my efforts to seek information on an "everyday" individual and his family are one small way to encourage others to glean the full story by the points of truth of many personal experiences collectively viewed.
Then again, it may seem strange that a person today, descended from Europeans, might want to research the story of the descendants from an African-American heritage. But if African American history is pertinent to all of us, and even stories of individual African Americans can be informative to our overall understanding of those times, then the story of King Stockton's life can add value, even though he might not have been famous, and certainly not of the same ethnic heritage as I.
While I hope discovering and discussing his story will be of help to someone else, I also hope taking this step will encourage others to take similar research pathways. We all can help by finding and sharing those tiny points of truth of lives once lived—even if they are not about our direct ancestors or even concerning people claiming the same ethnic heritage as we do.
Besides, I've always wanted to meet the man. Now that I know his name, though he lived more than one hundred years before me, in a way, I may get to meet him, after all. I'm certainly looking forward to getting to know him, whoever he was.