TCNJ Magazine - Winter 2019

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Page 17 of 51

16 The College of New Jersey Magazine P R A I R I E E S S A Y SARAH HANSON have haunted me since I learned about you back in 1977, and there are things I must know. I first learned of you while watching Roots, the landmark TV miniseries about one family's journey from Africa, through the Middle Passage, to slavery and the epic struggle for freedom. I think it was during the scene where Kunta Kinte's foot gets chopped off for running away that my dad quietly said, "My grandfather used to talk about that." I stared at my father. Your grandfather? "Yes, he was a slave." You KNEW him? "Yes, he lived with us." WHAT? I peppered him with questions and soon learned that you were DEAR GREAT-GRANDFATHER JORDAN, I write to you with some trepidation, not knowing what, if any, characteristics or values accompany a soul as it traverses from the mortal to the immortal plane. You lived from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th, and I'm told that you, like most men of that time, held to the belief that children were to be seen and not heard. Uncle Bill told me that among your siblings' children, you shared your slavery-time stories almost exclusively with him, since he was the oldest living and a boy besides. Then again, other cousins heard a tale or two from you too. But you Back to you I had a pent-up need to write to my great-grandfather, born enslaved. By Kim Pearson

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