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Generations of Perseverance

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Perseverance is a quality that has been in my family for hundreds of years. Much of my family has faced great trials and has stayed strong throughout them. This is a virtue that I hope to acquire. It is not only virtue important to me, but to my entire family. My inspiration for this comes from my grandfather, Will, who was too many generations back to even count. I have so much respect for him and the trials that he overcame. He had a very tough decision to make at a very young age, and way he lived his life has been the motivation for me to continue through the struggles that I am faced with in my life. The troubles in my life as an African-American are nothing compared to the struggles he faced. Slavery is not an issue like it was then. One day when going through the belongings that had belonged to my grandmother, who had passed, I came across some journals that were from my grandfather’s grandmother. Sethunya, Will’s grandmother, had written down the stories that she had seen throughout her life time. Among these was the story of my grandfather Will.

In 1632, Will was in the bottom of a very wet cold ship. He had been taken with his family from their home in Africa to be slaves in America. The Ames’, a French family that had made their home in America, had bought them and were having them shipped to their home. Will was only nine years old at the time and this was just the beginning of a long journey full of struggles.

He had been taken from the only home he had ever known along with the rest of his family. His father Abram and mother Jude had always provided a safe and loving home, but now they had little control over the safety of their two children, Will and his younger sister Lucy. Though their whole world was starting to come crashing down one person was strong through it all and gave strength to all around her. That was Will’s grandma. They all called her Sethunya, which meant bloom or flower. She believed that God was in control of their lives and that he had a plan. Her faith is what kept that family and what helped Will to follow the best paths in life that he possibly could.

The trip from their home in Africa was a very long and hard voyage and the trip to the farm that they would be staying at was also long, but this was only the beginning of a journey that Will would have to take. When they arrived to the farm that they would be working on they were sent to live on the edge of the property in a very small one room shack. Three beds and one small cook stove were the only contents of the house.

Katy Ames, the woman who had purchased my grandfather and his family, was a middle aged woman who had been widowed just a year previous. She was not a very friendly woman, but was also not mean to the slaves. She was a woman of fair skin and light hair and was pleasant to look at. She lived in the house with her seven year old daughter, Adeline, and her six month old baby girl, Isadora, whom they called Izzy.

Will and his family had been in America only a month when Ms. Ames decided that my grandfather would be of more use to her helping out around the house, and that he should live in the house with her and her children. As a little boy of only nine he was very frightened, but the fear of being beaten or killed outweighed the fear of leaving his family. Will moved into the home with the Ames’. The situation proved to be very good at first. He was living in a real house and got to sleep in a real bed with plenty of warm blankets. Will could go out and visit his family anytime he was not working and in the evenings when the sun was setting Will, Lucy and Adeline would play.

That was the best his life had been since he had left Africa. Ms. Ames had turned out to be very kind to Will and he began to love her just like a second mother. He was becoming a part of their family and Ms. Ames started to treat him as if he were her son instead of a slave. This had all fallen into place on its own and were turning out great until it took a turn for the worse. Abram, Wills father, started to believe that Will was becoming too much a part of the American life.

Even though Will’s life was good, the rest of his family still had to go out in the heat every day and work. This started to cause trouble because Abram loved his son very much and felt like he was losing him. He started to fight with the men in charge of the slaves about making them work too much and about taking breaks. Sethunya saw what was happening to her son and warned him that if he did not change his ways and learn to have faith that God was in control then he was going to cause much suffering. He did not take notice of her warnings and soon Sethunya’s fears became a reality.

One day a man came out to the farm and had all of Will’s family brought down to see him. When all of them were there, Ms. Ames brought Will out to them. She told all of them that in three days that that man was coming back to pick up Will’s family because she had sold them. This was a huge problem for Will because she had not sold him. Ms Ames told Will that he could choose to be sold with his family or stay with her and her family and be free from slavery.

This was the toughest decision of his life. How could he choose between his family and freedom? This is when his grandma showed him the love and wisdom of age. She told him that he was young and had his whole life ahead of him. She told him that he could become free and changes the world for not only himself, but for many other people that were put into slavery.

Those words of encouragement were the last things Sethunya said before she passed away. Will trusted his grandmother’s words and chose freedom. His mother and sister praised him for being brave enough to leave his family and change the world. Abram showed his son the love that he had received from his own words and encouraged to listen to anything his grandmother had told him because she was a very wise woman.

Will, along with the rest of his family, mourned the death of his grandmother and everyone knew that they had lost a true flower. He was the first recorded free African man in America. Will stayed with the Ames family and when he had grown to the age or sixteen he fulfilled his Sethunya’s wishes that he would change the world and save others who had been enslaved. Will, after four years of searching, had finally found his family and bought them out of slavery. He went on to free countless numbers of African people who were enslaved.

The decisions my grandfather were faced with were so tremendous that it shows me that what I’m going through is not as bad as what he was faced with. The journals of Sethunya have changed my life and I am so proud of the obstacles that my family has overcome. They give me the strength to persevere and to be a strong African-American and to be proud of who I am and where I came from.



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