In my 13 years as a columnist, I have focused on untold stories of African-American heritage—fascinating stories of days of old, mostly in Culpeper County, which included the nature of tiny villages, post offices that no longer exist and the rhyme and reason of why all these things became a part of our collective history. Add to that my many tales of growing up on a farm in Culpeper, complete with hogs, chickens, sheep and a milk cow named Lady, and you will have a composite of about 800 articles. It is beyond even my grasp to comprehend having that much to talk about, but then again I always was considered a talker.
I confess that I thoroughly enjoy teaching, storytelling and reminiscing, but it is the teaching, particularly about history, that interests me the most. For all you skeptics regarding the value of history, please indulge me in a thought or two.
History is not something that happened yesterday and is now no longer a factor in our lives, a moment to be recorded and forgotten or abandoned. A thing of the past, whether it is a family matter or one of national or global impact, will have a reverberating effect. That effect could last decades—perhaps centuries and of course generations—depending on how that event, practice or occurrence is reported, managed and incorporated in our day-to-day lives.
Much of history, including United States history, has been glossed over, buried, whitewashed or simply untold. I cannot emphasize strongly enough that for all our sakes we must be sufficiently bold to eke out the truths that could be worthy of celebration, and also to face those that merit shame and the quest for forgiveness. Those that decry that the past is the past and should stay there could have legitimacy if we were all deaf, dumb and blind. Of course, we are not. There are tens of thousands who know a different history than the one taught in our schools, and they are being empowered by tens of thousands more who want to know “what really happened.”
Does anyone truly believe that truth can be kept forever buried or disguised in some costume designed for less than noble purposes? Like the phoenix from the ashes, the glorious truth is rising, and we are standing at an incredible intersection. Should we join the effort, walk away with no engagement or raise our symbolic fists in denial? Each of us will have a choice to make.
I doubt that you will have to think too long about which route Zann will take. In my world, there is no choice; the seeking of truth is the only viable option. Please understand that in taking this path one does not have to be a zealot, march in parades or stand on a soapbox. Yet, if you choose this journey, you cannot acquiesce to the opposing theories or actions through omission either. You can join, support and share. Above all, you must become a questioner and teach the children to ask questions—politely, yes, but no longer will it be OK to accept a statement as truth simply because someone of authority said it was so.
If you think this sounds like a revolution, well maybe it is, but not a violent or even physical one. This is an insurgency against all the lies we have been taught and yes, it makes me a little bit angry that I was denied the real story. Not anymore! What I learn, I will share with you as I have in the past and I ask that you do me and others the kindness of passing the learning along.
Until next week, be well.
Zann Nelson is a researcher specializing in historical investigations, public speaker and award-winning freelance writer and columnist. She can be reached through the Orange County Review, at M16439@aol.com or on Facebook.