Every year we celebrate black history, but this year I decided to share photos of a different category that seem to never be shown. I wanted to share photos of everyday black people from the late 1800's through the early 1940's that captured their happiness- children playing, families together, wealthy families, women in their finest attire, men looking debonair with their fedoras.
It made me happy looking at such a rich history of black people from the past. It made my heart happy to see them dressed in fine clothing, smiling, and living their best lives.
In sharing dozens of photos of people I didn't know that I would come to learn an amazing, verified piece of my own family history.
Meet Bettie Farrow, my great-great grandmother, and ex-slave.
That's right, my great great grandmother: four generations. She is my mother's father's, father's mother.
Betty was interviewed in 1937 for the Federal Writers' Project: Slave Narrative Project, Vol. 16 for Texas. She passed away 4 years later. The interview was written in her dialect, making it a bit difficult to read, but she talked about her plantation life, her life events after being freed, and the fact that she could not read or write. I'm so glad they photographed her because this is the only known photo of her.
Betty was born on a plantation in Virgina in the mid 1800's, and doesn't remember her father. Her parents were listed on her death certificate, but I doubt information would be found on them, likely being born slaves themselves in the early 1800's.
The entire plantation moved to a new farm in Sherman, Texas when Betty was young, and when the slaves were freed, she stayed on the plantation. Betty married my great great grandfather, William Farrow, and they had ten children.
I was unable to find much information on her husband, William Farrow, and as such unable to track the Farrow name beyond him. William was listed as "mulatto", a biracial person mixed with black and white. Chances are, his biological father or grandfather was black.
After her husband died around 1922, Betty moved to a community on the outskirts of Fort Worth, Texas, established by freedmen to help raise her grandchildren.
Per my grandfather's birth certificate in 1924, Betty was the midwife who delivered him at birth. Pretty amazing.
It makes my heart grateful to know that my great great grandmother who couldn't read or write was born into slavery, and 4 generations later, I have the privilege to have graduated in the top 3% of my high school graduating class (540 students), graduated from one of the most prestigious universities in Texas, and own a small business. I am my predecessors' wildest dream.