Friday, August 15, 2008

#50 Obama and Me--pt 4: Southern Roots

Well, Obama doesn't have any, but I do. In fact his lack of connection with the essential, southern black experience--slavery--stalking black-white relations even today, makes him "not black enough" for some people on BOTH sides. His black heritage is strictly and geographically non-slave, unlike 99% of blacks in this country. His quondam father was Kenyan, and Barack was raised in Hawaii, of all places, about as far away in so many ways from the south side of Chicago, his eventual home-base, as you can get.

My little family were immigrants to the Hyde Park area too, as I mentioned in an earlier post, exiles from the exotic climes of the segregated South, where our roots are so deep as to be nourished by slavery itself, literally. My mother was born IN the plantation house on a 430 acre slice of land near Thomson GA which was once part of a larger slave-owning estate called Cedar Hill. In her day it was my grandfather's dairy farm. The house, built in 1804, is still in the family and still standing--along with ONE of the five or six slave cabins down near the spring-house. We had an unfallen two or three to poke around in scarifyingly as kids on extended summer vacations. But now to the hard-core. My father was born on the ante-bellum (still-standing) Mosteller Plantation house in Adairsville GA, where HIS father was the Miller in one of the family enterprises on an estate at one time covering 700 acres and employing thirty slaves, some even taking on our very un-African surname after the Civil War. A certain freedman, Bob Mosteller, was named foreman of the lumber operation, for example. There are a bunch of black Mosteller descendants to this day, NOT counting the one I half-made with my second wife, herself, of course, a descendant of slaves. I'm descended from slave-holders. I think there's some irony here somewhere. Help me out.

Another one: before getting "The Call" to Obama's Hyde Park and U of C, our family had been violated by the North almost a century before in a fairly profound way. Here's the connection: prior to the burning of Atlanta and the March to the Sea, Gen. Sherman had to move southward from Chattanooga, and, in so doing, engaged in one of his stand-offs with Confederate Gen. Johnston at the so-called "Battle of Adairsville," 17 May 1864. Sherman and his staff stayed the night in our house. But time heals old wounds; I can vote for a Yankee.

No comments: