raison d’etre

Black Wide-Awake turns 4.

Dear Reader,

Today marks the 4th anniversary — and 2216th post — of Black Wide-Awake.

This blog was to be the first of at least three location-specific sites into which I would pour all the “extra” that I uncovered in the course of my genealogical research. All the court records and photographs and newspaper clippings that did not pertain directly to my people, but documented the lives of the people who built and nurtured (or disrupted) the communities in which they lived.

I started with Wilson and, despite my best and oft-uttered intentions to curate similar blogs for Wayne and Iredell Counties, my grandmothers’ home counties, I’ve never moved beyond. Somewhere along the way I realized that though I’m no longer in Wilson, I’ve never been more of her, and my deep, deep knowledge of this people and this place are critical to making the most of the material I uncover. Gazing at the palimpsest that is African-American Wilson, I’m able to read both the smudged original text and the layers upon layers inscribed upon it over the last 150 years. Wilson is my wheelhouse, and I’ll continue to cast down my bucket here.

Thanks so much for your support and suggestions over these four years. So many of you have been generous with your time and tips and have shined lights in corners in which my ignorance lay thick. (By the way, if you’ve got pre-1950 photos or other artifacts that you’re willing to share, I’d love to research and feature them!)

Thanks also to those who’ve let me know when a post has touched them. Black Wide-Awake‘s raison d’etre is to connect us with rare material evidence of our ancestors’ lives. It’s an intervention. A ministry.

A couple of days ago I thought to ask Regina Carter Garcia, a fellow genealogist, via Facebook if Rev. Austin F. Flood is today remembered in Greenville, the city to which he returned after fighting the good fight in Wilson during and just after the Civil War. She assured me that he is and shared my post about Flood’s letter to the Freedmen’s Bureau with Shelton Tucker, another genealogist/history buff. Here’s what happened:

I grinned all day. I’d continue to curate Black Wide-Awake with no audience at all, but I am thrilled when my posts find their people. On to more.

Yours, Carolina Street’s own,

Lisa Y. Henderson