“Even still,” my godmother says on the phone. I have called her again, as I periodically do when I need to ask another question about our past, or when in my scattered research stumble across another detail, another piece. She is a history professor and in my family is the only one I know left who can offer any clues or advice. “Even still, she was a woman and she was black. How much power could she have had, really?” VIA
There is a story I must tell you and it begins like this—once, a woman once had a relationship with a man. Her name was a Leanna Brown and she was a slave to the Bedford Brown and his family. Bedford Brown was Senator of North Carolina during the 1830s. Next to Brown’s plantation lived a man by the name of William Siddle. The two of them, Leanna and William, sometimes called Willie, had a relationship that resulted in at least two, possibly three children, and one of those children was my great grandfather.
When I look at history, at the ways in which black women’s bodies have been treated and are continually treated, it is easy for me to look on this past and believe she was raped—that her children and their children and ultimately my own reason for existence, is because of this. It is easier to simplify their history, to make black and white a situation I don’t understand, but there is a fact that keeps me questioning, one I come back to time and time again. At least two of the children, born during Reconstruction, took his surname.
This fact leads me to believe that there is perhaps a different story than the one I’ve originally believed.