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Monday, January 29, 2007

So off topic...but needs to be said.

I just read that East Hartford's Emma Faust Tillman pass away at the age of 114. The daughter of slaves, I remember watching CNN when they reported that Tillman was just named the oldest living person in the world last week. In fact, until just recently, Tillman walked on her own and had a pretty independent life.

Her story is touching because my great-grandfather, who was also very independent, lived until 105 and made a living as a Pullman Porter. He was also the primary contributor to the novel "Raising From the Rails: Pullman Porters and the making of the black middle class" by Boston Globe Reporter Larry Tye (for those who don't understand the importance Pullman Porters had on African American society, I'll go into more detail about this topic during Black History month in February).

I was very fortunate to have my great-grandfather around until recently as I learned a great deal of important information about my family's past from conversations he had with our family. He knew how important his memories were to the family and made it a mission to pass as much knowledge down to everyone as possible. I'll always love him for sharing those important memories and will do everything in my power to make sure my daughter shares in that knowledge.

As African-American, being able to track back your family history to the slave trade is a VERY VERY RARE thing. Eventually, based on the information passed on from my great-grandfather, I'm sure my family will one day be able to trace back where in Africa we originated (and trust me, the day I'm able to go back to the area where my ancestors were captured from will be the greatest day of my life).

I can only imagine the knowledge Ms. Tillman passed down to her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and God bless Ms Tillman for having a such wonderful full life.