Alex Boyé is "hands down" my favorite artist. When I came across this performance in Jerusalem of "Make Them Hear You," I became curious about the origins of the song. I discovered it was included in Act II of "Ragtime." It has historical significance to Eastern Europeans and African Americans, but I believe there is a message that can apply to the whole human family.
In the production, "Ragtime," Coalhouse seeks justice through violence and revenge. Others join him and many who are innocent are killed. Booker T. Washington is sent to reason with him, and he eventually surrenders after telling his men to continue to seek justice through peaceful means.
My intent here is not to debate the topics of violence or non-violence. There is great magic in living above taking offense. This does not rob justice. When I think about all the things I have personally faced in my life and all the things African Americans have gone through, I can honestly say that my own wounds have not festered. I know healing.
To me, "Make Them Hear You," means that you are not silent nor do you turn a blind eye to injustice. It means that you do what is in your power to bring change. For me that equates to helping the whole human family to know who they are and where they come from through saving stories.
In 2011, I spent all my energies in this pursuit. One of the things I did has put me in the midst of experiencing some huge magic right now. I can hardly contain myself. I built personal Facebook Fan Pages for counties in South Carolina in hopes that my family searching in other parts of the country would find me.
I allowed Bernice Bennett to advertise her great shows on these pages, and I linked them to Twitter: Research at the National Archives & Beyond. I invited everyone with ancestry from these areas to join.
Last night, I stopped to respond to a question from someone on the Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, South Carolina African Americans page, and I discovered a whole branch of my extended family that I have longed to find. I will now have access to more history and more photos and more pieces of the puzzle of the past.
Richland County, South Carolina African American Genealogy
Newberry and Union County, South Carolina African American Genealogy
Clarendon County, South Carolina African American Genealogy
We have so many ways to be heard now. When "Make Them Hear You" was written, the pen was one of the main means to be heard. I can imagine the day when I am able to identify every living extended family member and capture the history, photos and stories they have to share. This is what brings me healing and joy. This will be the closure that I seek.
In the wee hours after this discovery, I looked for the first time into the faces of people that I could tell were my family. I discovered a photograph of my great uncle, Ernest Aaron Vance, and I remembered a conversation between Uncle Ernest and his brother, Grandfather Emory Wallace Vance long ago.
I was not even school age, but I remember they talked of gardening and family. I realized where I found my love of family and writing and gardening. While they used pens to communicate with each family member, I have added on a few different tools, and I am feeling the magic of making people hear me. This stands supreme among the many rewards for giving back this year.