Paulette Brown-Hinds, PhD
Every year at this time we stop to honor our dads. We show appreciation for all they sacrificed for us. We celebrate their contributions to our lives, our families, and our communities. And we recognize the models of leadership so many of them exemplify. But this year my father decided to switch things up a bit and give us a gift.
He has spent the last year researching more of our family’s genealogy and has completed a 70-page book that tells the stories of ten generations of our family. He has been able to locate information on various Brown family connections from the eastern North Carolina region, including the Strayhorns, Doves, Powells, Greens, Mumfords, Barbers, McDaniels, Williams, the Coxs, and more.
From his research we have learned that we come from a family of sharecroppers, farmers, housekeepers and washerwomen. Now we have lawyers, professors, entrepreneurs, elected officials and doctors. They were Masons and NAACP presidents. We serve on community boards and have started our own non-profit organizations. They had huge families, my great great grandmother Jane McDaniel Williams was born into slavery and spent her teenage years enslaved. She had 19 children. My grandmother Essie Brown had 11. And from those large numbers we have grown to a family of hundreds. Just from my dad’s siblings I have 30 first cousins and I lost count of the number of kids and grandkids they have.
My father wrote the book to “inspire, motivate, and give direction and understanding” to future generations. He wants us to understand “their struggle for equality in this country” and remember that our ancestors built this country and were never paid for their hard labor. So for Father’s Day this year, he’s really given us the best give of all – a knowledge of our history so that we may gain strength and courage as we move into the future. Thank you Dad, and Happy Father’s Day to all the dads who, like him, try to inspire and motivate their children and future generations. We salute you.