I ‘d like to celebrate this year’s Black History Month with you all by briefly honoring the memory of my Great-Grandfather Alexander Williams. He was the survivor of Amerikkkana that brought my family from the deep south and through the dark days. He paved a way that seemed to hold a world of potential for my cousins and me, even though most of us never met him.
After being ostracized from his family, Alexander’s father would make his way North with the young mother and child in tow, settling in the Ohio Valley. Here, his family grew, and in time, he reconciled with his family back South.
While all of Alexander’s siblings were all too happy to embrace their extended family and tolerate their prejudicial proclivities, he was never able to look past the Dixieland culture that scarred him in his childhood. He would soon strike out even further North into the Great Lakes region in an effort to escape the institutional racism that had plagued his life as a “half-cast” American.
When I think about the many things that I’ve endured in my life that had to be filed under “the Black condition” then hold that up to what he encountered and survived in a time when the night riders were high on Amerikkkana…before they even needed hoods to hide their faces, I’m deeply humbled and filled with overwhelming pride and gratitude for the resilience that Alexander exercised on a daily basis, especially realizing that he had unwittingly transplanted himself to ground zero for the KKK. Indiana would soon become the national headquarters. He lived a good long, natural life, so he saw and experienced more than I can yet understand, but he survived!
Through it all, the Williams name and legacy has survived to continue evolving. I proudly carry that torch for my family & the Black nation as a whole. I can only hope that Great Grandpa Alexander’s energy can flow through all that he helped create and that he is pleased with his Son, Michael.