My mother, like the ancient storytellers of West Africa, retold the family history that had been passed from generation to generation faithfully and accurately. She added her own stories and messages but never challenged any part of the saga. However, unlike the ancients, who relied strictly on oral tradition, my mother embraced a new tradition started by my great-grandfather Mack. To make the stories tangible and support them, he had gathered up letters, documents, and photographs. He wanted his children and grandchildren to see their ancestors, read their words, and hold in their hands evidence of what they had accomplished once they were no longer in bondage.
I, the newest griotte, would be the first to write it all down, and I began to realize I would be the first to explore the discomforting parts of our story.
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