If you have grown up being educated in the United States, then doubtless the images of African Americans in the 1800’s and 1900’s that you are used to seeing are first as slaves and then later as share croppers, cooks, railroad workers and other jobs in which they were often shown in old tattered clothing.
Contrast that with the images in Yvonne Southerland’s book “Legacy: Seven Generations of a Family,” and you are bound to see the remarkable contrasting progression of the lives of African Americans in this country. In Legacy (published by Xlibris), you see seven generations of a family who were able to overcome tremendous obstacles in life and achieve success. Perhaps the most striking parts of the book are the awe inspiring pictures of Southerland’s family standing tall and proud in beautiful clothing.
In addition, to the beautiful pictures produced by professional black photographers over 100 years ago, are the written profile text, which show how both well known heroes and everyday citizens together served to propel seven generations of a family to overcome, poverty, racism, sexism, classism and other challenges, to fulfill their destiny. They believed strongly in education as a means of lifting themselves up, and many of them graduated from HBCU’s and Ivy League universities, while they helped their siblings to do the same.
The family included Civil War soldiers, a Tuskegee Airman, a Harvard educated founder of an insurance company who had studied with W.E.B.duBois at Atlanta University, a presidential advisor in the Truman Administration, two physicians, two pharmacists, two lawyers and several educators. There are many documents supporting the historical profiles such as census records, land deeds, wills, marriage certificates, Bible entries, Freedman’s Bureau records, records from college and university archives as well as church archives. Hoping that the younger generation will continue the research, the author has included a list of resources and a bibliography divided into sections pertaining to the several families and their geographic locations. This will be very helpful to readers wanting to do a similar family history project.
In a world where our children know only African Americans of the past to be slaves and sharecroppers and Africans Americans of the present to be either gang leaders and drug dealers or rappers and gangsters, it is important to have them read books like Legacy in which they can learn about a different portrait of African Americans. This contrasting portrait teaches the young and reminds the old that through, prayer, dedication, strong work ethic and education, it is possible to lead a full and rewarding life, and to be all that God intended them to be.
About the Author
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Yvonne Southerland holds a masters degree from Pratt Institute, the Advanced Certificate in Administration and Supervision from City College of New York, and certificates from the University of Florence and the New York School of Interior Design. After 27 years, she is retired from the New York City Board of Education as an art educator, and has taught at the American School in Gelnhausen, Germany and the American School of Languages in Florence, Italy. While in Italy, she also edited “Florence and its Hills,” a tour guide of Florence.
Legacy. Seven Generations of a Family by Yvonne Foster Southerland is published in hard back, paperback or eBook.