Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sentimental Sunday- Teaching About Roots

I have shared some of the journey of our recent exploration of all things history, and there is more to tell, and today I want to share one of the best visual reminders of the way I was able to show my daughter the connection of our history and ourselves.  

One day we went to Annapolis. The historic area on this very hot mid-July day was absolutely teeming with activity around the harbor. There was hardly a place to park, which is a really fun adventure when you are in
Annapolis Harbor District
the car with a teenager at the wheel who is driving a van in circles and getting very frustrated in the process. (Does your teenagers refuse to listen to the subtle sugggestion that if she would only slow down and pause a moment now and then instead of going in a circle incessantly, we just might get into one of the open spaces before it filled again? After that, I had no intention of going on a harbor cruise).

The view out over the harbor was absolutely gorgeous that day, and I wish we would have had the time to really stay there and explore all that the area had to offer, but we were on our way to Baltimore by dark and I couldn't take enough time for that, but I will remember the view all the days of my life. 

However the view was not the real reason I had insisted that we get off the road and stop here despite pleas from my mother and daughter. (I will tell you why tomorrow--it is definitely a Madness Monday story). They soon understood the method to my madness, or is that the madness to my method?

Kunte Kinte is why we stopped here.

According to the Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival, Kunta Kinte is one of the slaves who arrived at Annapolis aboard The Lord Ligonier ship in 1767, and is the ancestor Alex Haley so completely described in his book, "Roots" that was adapted and later became one of the biggest television events of my lifetime.

Two hours every night for 6 nights, this miniseries gripped my generation and is often credited with an explosion in genealogy. I can remember coming home from school every day and could hardly wait until the show started as my entire family sat around the television and watched. As much as it was the story of Alex Haley, it was more the story of a time in our country that I truly didn't understand at my young age at the time. I would be emotionally drained every night and full of very hard questions for my parents that night, and even more for my teachers the next day.

So here we were at Annapolis to honor Kunta Kinte and all the others who came aboard those ships. I know now in my own genealogy pursuits that I had ancestors who owned slaves and today was the day to share some of that with my daughter, and my mother as we marveled at this point and imagined what it must have been like to arrive here at this harbor aboard those ships more than 200 years ago.

Kunta Kinte- Alex Haley Memorial
In the middle of all the shops and the cars and the horns from the boats coming in and out of the harbor sits this simple, yet moving statue. Alex Haley is reading a book to 3 children of diverse backgrounds. The sign next to them says:
To commemorate the arrival in this harbor of
Kunta Kinte. Immortalized by Alex Haley
in Roots, and all others who came
to these shores in bondage and who by their toil,
character, and ceaseless struggle for freedom
have helped to make these United States.


Lisa Swanson Ellam said...

Roots was for me also, a hallmark of my younger years. What a powerful miniseries that was! I had no idea this statue existed. Thank you for sharing!

Carol said...

I did not know of this wonderful statue either, thanks so much for sharing it. Think I need to add this to my bucket list!