Let me introduce Chari Smith here, the newest light in the stellar team gathering to help me complete our documentary film, Resurrecting Love.
I met Chari at a friend’s home in Portland where we were both house guests not long ago. She generously offered to help us with social media and support getting our documentary film, Resurrecting Love, out into the world now!
Within two weeks, Chari came and stayed with us and got me excited about keeping up this blog and told me how she could help. Chari’s a live wire, the real deal, a doer. She delivers. I am enormously grateful for her help and asked her to please write a post and tell people why she believes in this work. Here it is:
Chari Smith, musician, social media intern for Resurrecting Love, September 26, 2014
My name is Chariell Smith and seemingly serendipitously, while visiting Oregon this fall, I came into contact with China Galland and the story of Love Cemetery. She wrote the book, Love Cemetery, Unburying the Secret History of Slaves, and is now completing the documentary film, Resurrecting Love (working title), that grew out of the book.
After hearing the story of this almost two-hundred year-old African American cemetery in East Texas and watching some of the video clips up on their website – www.resurrectinglovemovie.org – I felt compelled to do whatever was in my power to help, including sharing my own story.
I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. I was born in 1984, just twenty years after the height of the Civil Rights movement. I recall learning about the Civil Rights movement in school much like the generations that have followed, but my generation, the “y” generation, is a special group of individuals. We may quite possibly be the last generation to have had physical contact with the threads of triumph and tragedy that exists within the fabric of African American history.
My grandmother, an 85 year-old retiree, picked cotton as a child for 25 cents a day. She recalls long days in the fields, the segregation in the south as she grew older, her best friend being murdered, black curtains on buses, the sit-ins and “white-only” pies. She recalls having to use the back door, moving west for fear of raising a child in the south, and working as a maid for most her life to support her family. She recalls the countless early mornings and late evenings, returning home to find that her youngest daughter was now calling her eldest daughter “mother.” She recalls the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, and President John F. Kennedy, and the pain of losing her eldest son to police brutality. My grandmother is a warrior in her own right, and she’s still alive to tell the story of how far we’ve come.
As a child I spent countless summers at my grandmother’s home in Vegas while my parents were working. She and I seemed to have a special bond. They called me Ms. Maime, a name that meant “old soul”. Much of this was because I was completely enthralled with things that most kids my age were not. I asked questions and I wanted answers. I inquired about why the world functioned the way it did in every capacity, and I wouldn’t stop asking until I had an answer that made sense to me. One summer, after I’d learned about black history in school, I sat on the porch with my grandmother every day, and she in turn gave me a gift; she told me her story, the story of an African American woman from Louisiana who had experienced firsthand what was written in books.
Today, I can still remember how her eyes welled up with tears as she talked to me about her life experiences, the long pauses and blank stares, and the songs she’d often hum when she was lost in thought and seemed to forget that I was sitting there. I never interrupted. I sat in silence with her, a manifestation of her choice to leave the south, my life glimmering in the hot Las Vegas sun with promise and purpose. Yes, indeed, I am one of the lucky ones because I am a part of the last generation of African Americans that will have had direct physical contact with that past. Our grandmothers and grandfathers are dying, and with them they take eyes and hands and hearts that have survived what younger generations only read about. My generation will be the last generation to have had physical contact with those who lived to tell the African American story first-hand.
As a 30 year-old African American woman living in today, it is my fear that if we don’t accept our place as emissaries, generation “y” may be the last living link to our history. Our country continues to change, and as we move into the future and further away from the past, there is potential for much of our pivotal history to disappear into the cracks of our society. Keeping these stories and experiences alive and passing them along to the younger generations will ensure that they know their true value. They are not simply the product of their environments, they too are manifestations of hope, glimmering in the sunlight.
Stories like Love Cemetery provide younger generations with the opportunity to come into contact with their roots and the remnants of their own legacy, thereby enriching their lives. To find out more about Love Cemetery and where they are in the process of completing the documentary, Resurrecting Love, please visit http://www.resurrrectinglovemovie.org.
You can follow the blog www.resurrectinglove.org. It’s a root system that connects disparate events, issues, and reflections with new outgrowths.