What adventure will I be up to this weekend? Anybody know? What new ‘we the people’ story will I uncover? I’m building on a dream… You can follow my adventure this weekend on social media as I take you on my journey to new exciting places to find music, our culture heritage and art…….
All my life I’ve been fascinated by American history, and how the people arriving in the New World whether by choice or by force found a way to survive and create a nation not led by kings or monarchs but by ‘we the people’. In my view, freedom is a powerful thought, and obviously moved our ancestors deeply to attempt such a great experiment. I’m especially interested in our music, arts and our history. I’m always amazed at what you can learn if you visit and explore historical sites or take a hike in nature in one of our amazing National Park Service locations or in big cities or the back roads in quaint little towns. Last weekend I visited Fort Monroe(formally known as Fort Comfort) in the Hampton, VA area. This is where the first 20+ Africans arrived in the New World off the ship the White Lion and were later traded to the settlers in Jamestown, VA. Also in Hampton, VA is where the recent smash hit movie Hidden Figures took place at NASA Langley Research Center. That movie is one of my all time favorites. I love this real American story about “human computers”. Who knew about human computers, I didn’t.
But back to Fort Monroe, as I walked through the museum and made my way towards the exit I noticed the gift shop, I could hear the clerk telling the tourists about the UGRR in Fort Monroe. I approached her after listening in on the conversation to ask her about where I could find the area where the first Africans arrived in August 1619? As we were talking I was telling her that I had been in Richmond, VA the day before filming the restored Slave Burial Ground, that had previously been covered over by a parking lot. I also mentioned that I had done a mini documentary “Secrets From The Grave” where just across the Colonial PKWY from Historical Jamestown it is thought that some of the first 20 Africans who arrived in 1619 are buried. I mentioned that the burial ground was on private property and that it was seemingly an unmarked grave site for a few of the first 20 Africans. But in fact the grave site was actually marked with the plant Periwinkle used by slaves to mark their graves.. I went on to tell her I also found Periwinkle on the slave burial sites located at several of the Founding Father’s historical properties including Monticello, Mount Vernon and Montpelier. I had been told by Mr Okie Smith who had been caretaker of the property for over 6 decades that the grave site where a few of the first 20 Africans had been buried, the slaves had planted Periwinkle as a way to mark their graves. The grave site was also located under a single old Oak tree in the area(unfortunately when I saw the site the tree had fallen a few years before in hurricane Isabel in 2003). Mr Smith informed me the tree was as significant as the Periwinkle for the slaves.The clerk quickly pointed out that she had been told the slaves also used Periwinkle for the practical purpose as a deterrent to dogs and wild animals to keep the animals from digging up the slave bodies for food to eat. All I could say was WOW. This I did not know. To me it shows the reverence and holiness of life itself that the slaves who had no voice or rights at the time made a way out of no way to find dignity and integrity even in death. I am so proud of my ancestors.
So as I put my traveling shoes on for this weekend who knows what we’ll find, but stay tuned to see where I’ll go and what interesting facts I will uncover.