When I say that I feel my life’s work is to write about the lives and stories of enslaved people, I’m not exaggerating. . . not even a little. No subject, no stories, no people in the world fill me with more passion and purpose. And I do no work with more care and mindfulness.
I could say a lot about this work, talk about the parts of my life that have led me to it, share why I am so enfevered by sharing the stories of these incredible people that we have often – through apathy and intention – forgotten, preach about the legacy that the system of slavery has left in America today, lament the ongoing racism in our society and why I work with Coming to the Table. . . and maybe I will do each of those things in the future.
But today, I want to point you to another story, the story of my friend Alice and a house she bought . . . and the way that she came to study, become impassioned for, and seek to find the stories of the people who were enslaved at her home . . . and to connect those people’s descendants to those stories.
So, here, is the beginning of Alice’s story . . .
Alice wanted to know more about its past; she had no thought about the enslaved people who lived there. She hadn’t grown up with a family legacy of slave-owning in any case.
But she wanted to find out about the place. What she learned was that Dr. James B. Rogers bought Bleak House plantation from the heirs of William Michie in 1836. The house in which Alice and Jon live today was built in 1854 and occupied by James and Margaret Rogers by 1857. James and Margaret Rogers’ descendants were defeated by the Civil War, and moved to Kentucky. Alice has contacted them and let them know they have kin among the descendants of their ancestors’ enslaved people, but they so far have no interest in the information or in making connections.