But he lifted the needy out of their affliction and increased their families like flocks. Psalm 107: 41 NIV
Last night, I was reminded of the importance of family at a reunion at which I was reacquainted with family members I had not seen in years. To say, it was a bit emotional for me would be an understatement. Not only was every person there recognized for something, but a presentation was made about all who are no longer with us.
This reunion was about our genealogical connection, “blood family” and all connected by marriage. Our family matriarch–as far as anyone could remember, was Polly McDowell–born in 1848 into slavery. Her son, my great grandfather, James McDowell was born in 1867, just a few years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, freeing the slaves.
Because of a desire to know more about my ancestry, I recently had my DNA tested and discovered I am a descendent of people from 8 different countries in Africa, Scandinavians who migrated to Scotland, and Indigenous Native Amazonian–who migrated from North Asia and then to North America (Native Inhabitants). What a heritage! But let me get back to James McDowell. He was the only grandfather I had known and he died when I was 12 years-old. But I was told something last night that I never knew. He was coal-miner in Powellton, WV and raised his 8 children with this thought, “If you don’t do anymore than I’ve done, then you haven’t done anything.” That struck a particular chord within me because I remember my great aunts training me to do day work when I was 5 years-old. Some might think that was child abuse now, but at the time, since there was very little opportunity for a Black woman to do much else, they did what they thought was needed in order to prepare me for life.
I’m sure, Polly McDowell would be proud of her descendants and I’m equally sure that my grandmother–Isabelle Woodson and my mother, Mary Mosley, would be just as proud of me. Without knowing what had been instilled in them, I have always wanted to explore my potential in a number of areas. Academically, I have exceeded the expectations of many and I can’t imagine what Polly would have thought if she knew there would be a writer in the family since she had been denied the opportunity to read and write. All of this was brought home to me last night–the importance of knowing family. The last surviving child of James and Isabelle (his wife) is my Aunt Maxine McKinney–who is now the matriarch of the family and is 89 years-old. She narrated our family history and it was recorded by her daughters to share with the rest of us. While I can’t speak for the rest of the family, I was moved to a heightened awareness of pride in family and inspired to keep motivating others to pursue greatness.
It’s not just the “blood” family that we need in our lives to keep us connected; it is the Blood of Jesus Christ family that we need to keep us connected and moving forward in this life, being a comfort to others, encouraging others to be all that God would have them to be, and to remind each other always of this great heritage we have in Christ.
I had not planned to make an announcement about my potential candidacy, but after hearing more about Polly McDowell and what my grandfather said, I couldn’t let the opportunity get past me. I’m absolutely sure, great, great-grandmother Polly would be surprised to know one of her descendants had the audacity to seek being the President of the United States–when she was born a slave in this country.
Now, it is more important than ever for me to succeed in my quest because this is not just about me or what I think I can do for Everyday Americans, but it now becomes the motivation that fuels me to show the world that how we arrive in life, should have no bearing on what we can accomplish in life.
So, to both “blood” families I thank you for the opportunity of being connected and in the hope of seeing all achieve all that God has put into your hearts to achieve, no matter what your age is, no matter what obstacles have attempted to impede your progress in life, when we know we can depend on family, we can make it.
Remember the name–Mary Hall-Rayford and be prepared for the run to the White House in 2020–honoring family.