have no room for connection.
What would happen if women wrote the stories of our history? Would we learn more about the many ways that invisible women, like Abigail Adams, had something to say about the voice of women and people of African descent, even as President John Adams made poor, but considered, choices. He wrote that in avoiding the matter of slavery, our nation’s founders left a legacy that others would have to deal with. His Massachusetts roots have borne strange fruit, even as race matters remain unresolved despite the election of an African-American president.
What would happen if Black folk wrote the stories of our history? Would we learn about the challenges that allowed some to lay stone on the ground to build our nation’s capital? Would we learn, from their own mouths, about those who served our plethora of flawed presidents, who managed their foibles? If Black folk wrote our nation’s history, would we finally capture the South Carolina burial ground that was the first recorded Memorial Day, according to Yale University history professor David Blight.
What would happen if Native Americans wrote the story, wrote about the land that was taken by greedy White people whose expansion plans collided with other people’s existence. Would we learn about the men and women who grabbed belongings in the dark and fled someplace? Would we learn about the reservations that were established, a fraction of the space that one once lived in? Would young people, sitting down to read history, learn about the pain that our imperialism cost?
History belongs to she who holds the pen, and history holds us hostage to interpretation. So write, sister, write, the story of Memorial Day, of the Black folks who went to give dignity and honor to those who lost their lives. Write, sister, write, about the foundation of our nation’s capital. Write it, write it, write it, boldly and bodaciously, because the story will not be told unless we claim the pen as our own.
Julianne Malveaux is president of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.