Heritage


I am of mixed heritage. The majority of my fraternal ancestors migrated to America from Puerto Rico and the majority of my maternal ancestors migrated to America from Africa. My maternal ancestors were members of the ancient Mandinka tribe. I have always identified myself as Afro‑Rican in attempt to honor both sides of my heritage. However, as I researched my ancestry by conducting interviews with my maternal great aunt and my paternal grandmother, I found out how small my self‑identification was. Not only do I have ancestors that migrated from Africa and Puerto Rico, but I am also the descendant of paternal ancestors who were royalty in Barbados! This paper that originally started out as just a school assignment has become a voyage of discovery for me. Due to the fact that I had to rely mainly on interviews with older relatives and recollections of conversations that I had as a young girl with my great‑great grandmother, some of the information is limited but has been verified by documents that have been preserved, one of which is over fifty‑five years old. Both of my grandfathers died before my birth so the information about their ancestors is limited to what is known by their spouses or my parents.


The earliest known migration of my maternal ancestors from Africa was my great‑great‑great grandfather. He and his entire tribe, the Mandinkas, migrated from Africa to Montgomery, Alabama. After their original migration, the tribe traveled to and established themselves in Southern states throughout the country. There is not a lot that is known regarding his immigration. It is not even known whether or not the immigration to America was voluntary. However, my grandmother speculates that due to the time frame in which his immigration most likely occurred, the trip was probably not voluntary.


My maternal great‑great grandmother, Georgia Carter, was born in South Carolina. She was born on May 25, 1898. Her mother, Dora Young, and her father, George Chalk, met and married in South Carolina. Georgia Carter’s grandmother, George Chalk’s mother was born into servitude in Virginia. George Chalk and his sister, Lucy, were taken from their mother and purchased together by slave owners. George Chalk’s mother was then bid on and taken to South Carolina in horse‑drawn wagons. She was stored in a sled. At the age of four, George and Lucy were "set free." The year was 1863 and the Emancipation proclamation has just been put into effect. Unfortunately, George and Lucy Chalk were mere toddlers at this point. They were parentless as their mother had died enslaved only months before the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation and their father had been killed attempting to escape from slavery.


Fortunately, the former owners of my great‑great‑great grandfather and his sister took pity on them. They raised George and Lucy in their home until they were old enough to fend for themselves. George and Lucy were "cared for" in less than ideal conditions but fared better than they would have had they been left to raise themselves. They were still teenagers. Fairly uneducated because their former owners felt that blacks had no business being knowledgeable about anything more than labor, George and Lucy were pushed out into a still very racist Virginia when they were still teenagers. They migrated to South Carolina, hoping to find their mother, only to learn that she had died years before. The job that George found is not known by my great aunt, but it is believed that he was earning a fairly decent living for a Black man in the racist South because he was able to care for both Lucy and himself. At the age of thirty‑nine, George met Dora Young, they married and had my great‑great grandmother, Georgia Chalk.


Though relations between Blacks and Whites were far from perfect, they were satisfactory enough that my great‑great grandmother was able to receive some schooling in the Chester County part of South Carolina in the early 1900\'s. This enabled her to provide for herself slightly better than her father had been able to provide for him and his sister.


I remember sitting down with her as a little girl and asking her what it was like for her growing