I’ve wanted to write a blog with this title ever since I discovered the grave of Reyele French outside the picket fence that encloses the headstones marking the rest of his Civil War Kentucky soldiers unit—his comrades in war and death. The refusal to bury Mr. French with his fellows was because he was African American. What could be a more poignant metaphor for the marginalization of a people?
However, while in rural Maryland visiting an old friend in declining health, I drove by a colonial period log cabin, a slave house. It was dilapidated and abandoned, but the property owners were not allowed to demolish it.
I was surprised and disappointed not to find a historical marker or any attempt to protect the cabin or maintain the overgrown surrounding area.
Taking photos of the cabin as the sun set jolted my memory. I was reminded of Reyele French, also abandoned and mostly forgotten.
The history of the people who lived in the slave house and the “colored” soldiers who fought in our wars is our collective history, and we need to reclaim it, know it, own it, and work together for a better shared future.