Memory Book

We’d like to hear your history please share a story, a family photograph, and connect with others by contributing to the museum’s Memory Book. Here are a few examples of how people like you have shared their stories:

Lonnie Bunch Remembers Nelson Mandela

Lonnie reminisces about the words of Nelson Mandela.

Lonnie reminisces about the words of Nelson Mandela.

Contributed on May 11, 2007
By: Lonnie_12320
Threads: Home Page
1997, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

In 1997, I was lecturing in South Africa. One day I found myself in the small city of Pietermaritzburg, which is located in Durban in Kwa Zulu Natal. This city has a significant Indian population and it was the site of Mahatma Gandhi's first brush with the racism of South Africa in 1903. While I was there, Nelson Mandela came to this city that was the ancestral homeland of his political and tribal rivals, the Zulus. He was to receive "the freedom of the city." I was privileged to sit on the podium as Mandela gave his speech. He spoke passionately and eloquently of how American abolitionists such as Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass inspired him and helped him to believe that freedom and racial transformation were possible in South Africa.

Mandela's words helped me to remember the power of African American culture.

Storytelling Through Quilts

Storytelling Through Quilts

Contributed on June 24, 2008
By: 23jayhawk
Threads: Preserving Clothing and Textiles
2008, Lawrence, KS, United States

Local artist uses quilts to share historical stories. During a recent visit to my home town, a friend told me about a local well known quilter, Marla Jackson, who uses her craft to document history.

Marla remembers the hand-tied quilt, made from old clothes and scraps that her great-grandmother, Lucille, kept on her bed. Lucille told Marla that she made the quilt herself, using pieces from clothing that belonged to family members and reminded her of special events and relationships.

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A Haunting Family Death Bed Scene

A descendant of Martha Washington’s personal maid shares her experience

A descendant of Martha Washington's personal maid shares her experience

Contributed on January 19, 2009
By: zsunlight
Threads: Home Page
1999, Fairfax, VA, United States

The night of my memory, December 14, 1999 was a cold, shivery, December evening at Mount Vernon, the home of General and Mrs. Washington. I had been invited to stand in for my grandmother to the 7th generation, Caroline Branham, personal maid to Martha Washington, for a ritual commemoration of the evening General Washington died. My Caroline would have been at her post on December 14, 1799 standing behind Martha Washington or near the door.

I stood where she had stood and as I did, my knowledge of the intercultural relationships evidenced by those in attendance danced around the room.

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Black Ice

A father learns about his family’s heritage and ice hockey

A father learns about his family's heritage and ice hockey

By: Ron Levi
Farmington Hills, MI, United States

I remember the day I learned that there was a long history of participation in the sport of ice hockey by people of African heritage who were, to my amazement, the sons and grandsons of American slaves who arrived in Nova Scotia via the Underground Railroad.

Several years ago, my sons became interested in the sport of ice hockey. Since then we have enjoyed learning about the sport together, but we never imagined the cultural and ancestral treasure to which it would lead us in 2006.

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Mayor Willie Brown Reminisces

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown recalls his childhood, education and civil rights.

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown recalls his childhood, education and civil rights

By: Willie Brown
San Francisco, CA, United States

This is Willie Brown, and I was born in a very small town in a place called Mineola, Texas. And at the time of my early childhood, there was still separate - but so-called equal - schools. I went to a little schoolhouse that had six rooms, two grades per room, which means that half the time in school, you had to just sit and remain quiet while they taught the other grade, of which you were not a part of. It was a great learning experience, though, because you were able, literally, to do two grades a year, if you really paid close attention. But, in the end, that little school did not qualify me to enter Stanford University, because I graduated from high school, came to California with the intentions of going to Stanford and becoming a math teacher.

That's when I fully realized that separate but equal was unequal; that I had been shunted aside by this crazy nation, and given a second-grade education - a second-class education, or a second-tier education. So, when I got to California, I literally had to start all over.

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