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    Posted May 12, 2009 by
    Chicago, Illinois
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Black in America: Your roots

    Remember My Name


    My great grandparents, Thomas and Rhoda Leslie, left slavery together, along with Rhoda’s mother, Easter Reeves. They exited Lowndes County, Alabama with little more than the clothes on their backs and a burning desire, not so much to experience freedom, as to leave Lowndes County behind. They were propelled onward to Opelika where Reconstruction was in progress and good work was to be had on the railroad. They later moved on to Montgomery, where they raised their six children.


    By 1930, all of the Leslie family, except the patriarch, Tom, were in Chicago. My grandfather, Robert Leslie, came first. His wife and the mother of his children, Julia Williams Leslie, died in 1921, leaving three small boys behind. When he remarried, his wife fell in love with a precious little boy on a horse with his brothers and made him the first son to be brought to Chicago. That was my father. His brothers soon followed. 


    My grandfather brought his mother Rhoda to Chicago in 1939 when Tom Leslie died. She passed away here at the age of 104 when I was three  years old.


    I was born in Chicago and have been searching my roots on both sides of my family for more than 30 years. My search has taken me to the far reaches of Alabama and Mississippi, where I have found appalling references to the horrors of slavery and realized how deeply my life has been personally touched by its legacy.


    My work led me to establish a website to help others -- www.ourblackancestry.com -- and to get involved with a group called Coming to the Table, which seeks to reunite the descendants of formerly enslaved people and their enslavers in order to heal from the persistant wounds of the institution of slavery.


    Until that legacy is addressed, there can be no "post-racial" society. It is my sincere hope that America will wake up and realize that.

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