Saturday, June 20, 2020

my family owned slaves

At least that is what my uncle Russel, my father's brother, told me as we were driving with my parents to Waiteville, WV, where my father's family comes from,

I was 12 or 13. My uncle said to my father, "Virgil, stop here", on the dirt road that went on for five miles or so to Waiiteville.

"Jimmy," he said to me, "up on that hill are the graves of the slaves your great-great-grandfather owned. There are eight graves there."

My great-great-grandfather's name was, like mine, James Gordon Bradley.

I didn't know how to process that information.

The first James Gordon Bradley had owned slaves. He lived before West Virginia split from Virginia and became part of the union.

I am still ashamed and horrified that the blood in my body once owned slaves.

All these protests touch me personally. I am part of the problem--my family owned slaves. I ponder that truth.

How can I repent for that?

What can I do to make up for that?

What penitence will absolve me?

I have no idea.

I wrestle with it in my soul.

Where can absolution come from?

That is why I am so completely and totally committed to the demands of the protest.

Finally finding 'equality' in this nation might lessen my guilt for the sins of my ancestors.

I pray it would.

And I pray we do all we can--all of us--to find a road to justice and equality in this nation of ours.

Join me in that prayer and in that movement. Please.

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.