In the Spirit of Black History Month - Advancement Project - Advancement Project

In the Spirit of Black History Month

“I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.”

By Richard Winston III PHR, CCP

“I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.”

-Brandan Odums


My Great-Great-Great Grandmother “Caroline” (above) who was Native American Indian and African-American

During Black History Month, I regularly reflect on the strides and struggles of my ancestors. It brings my soul much comfort and reenergizes my desire to fight for equality not just in my own community but within all communities on all shores. I am thankful for the national observance to reflect on the communities of color from which I spring forth. I am appreciative of the opportunity to meditate on my multi-cultural and blended origins.

Through her, my linage is associated with the Indian reservations located in Southampton County, Virginia and the Ridley plantation, a site linked to the great Nat Turner Insurrection near Courtland, Virginia (New Jerusalem).

It’s through my ancestors’ stories that I am reminded of the courage of my people and the way my relatives went on to overcome and achieve great accomplishments such as the noteworthy William Henry Ridley, Esq.  Often called, “Lawyer Ridley,” William was “Delaware County’s first African American attorney,” whose office once stood at 1707 West Third Street in Chester. Like any trailblazer, the legacy he left cut a path through the nearly impenetrable forest of the obstacles of his time. He was a pioneer in the field, paving the way for men and women of color who, too, sought their sights on a career in the justice field.

His parents were known as Cornelius Ridley and Martha Jane Parham former slaves on neighboring plantations in Southampton County, Virginia. Separately, they escaped during the Civil War, and later reunited.

I also reflect on the lives of much more recent ancestors such as my paternal great-great grandmother Jennie Cole (Ford) (left below) and paternal great-grandfather, the Reverend Frank Winston Sr. (right below) and how their determination for a better world lead to the very freedoms I possess today.

My paternal great-grandfather a native of Caroline County, VA, was a graduate of Wilberforce University, the nation’s oldest private, HBCU named to honor the great 18th century abolitionist, William Wilberforce.  Rev. Winston became a prominent Baptist minister and over many congregations and local community leader throughout the central Virginia region.

I give thanks each February to those within my bloodlines that took chances and struggled to break down barriers of inequality so that I could have a right to freedom.

I also extend my lens of reflection to include historic African-American LGBTQ revolutionaries such as American novelist and social critic, James Baldwin who sacrificed his life so that I might live freely. Currently, on my nightstand is “Giovanni’s Room” a magnificent storytelling by Baldwin.

Lastly, I normally end the month by celebrating self and looking towards the future. My birthday is February 29, and I typically celebrate that rare day that occurs every four years in tribute to my heritage. I also take time to embrace and experience many freedoms by doing what they couldn’t do as freely as we can today such as traveling.

Richard is Advancement Project’s Human Resources Manager.

KEEP READING

Free Your Mind, Man! Free Your Mind!

On honoring your ancestors by doing what they did for centuries-being bold and courageous enough to have a stubborn belief.

Read More
Dreaming while Black is a Revolutionary Act

For Black people to imagine a country and a world free of white supremacy and all of its intersectional tentacles of oppression is a radical act.

Read More
Advancement Project’s Statement Following the State of the Union

We knew Trump’s first State of the Union Address would not be for us. Since day one, this president’s rhetoric has criminalized people of color and fed off of a whitelash. The remarks underlined that this administration’s plan is to troll us and deny us. Trump even took a swipe against athletes decrying police terrorism – yes, the same ones whose mothers he called bitches. He and his followers want a world where police brutality goes unchecked, where Black and Central American countries can be insulted, and communities of color don’t have a voice or power. That’s exactly why we can’t let…

Read More
The Take Back #001

The newsletter of resistance for people of color.

Read More
Shame on Senators Enabling a White Supremacist Agenda

With today’s vote, the Senate falls in line with a president who revoked DACA and showed his racist approach.

Read More
For Us By Us: Racial Justice Champions Fund the Movement

Colin Kaepernick and Jesse Williams Show Up for Racial Justice

Read More
Colin Kaepernick Puts Money Where His Mouth Is

Advancement Project is one of last organizations to receive portion of $1 million donation from former football player, social justice advocate

Read More
Leading Civil Rights and Racial Justice Organizations Support and Applaud the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s National Day of Racial Healing, January 16, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 15, 2018 CONTACT: Elana Needle, 201.248.9724 Email: [email protected] New York, NY –  In today’s divisive environment, pausing to recognize the significance of and need to participate in a National Day of Racial Healing (#NDORH) is vitally important. On Tuesday, January 16, 2018, many organizations, individuals, and communities will be taking collective action during the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s second annual National Day of Racial Healing to celebrate our racial diversity and reinforce and honor our common humanity. Among these organizations are the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Racial Equity Anchor Institutions (“The Anchors”). The Anchors will…

Read More
An Insider’s View of Today’s SCOTUS Arguments on Voter Purging in Ohio

January 10, 2018 Earlier today, the Supreme Court of the United States held the oral argument for Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute. This case concerns the maintenance of states’ voter rolls under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Originating in Ohio, the primary issue of the case concerns whether a state can use a voter’s inactivity to purge that voter from the state’s rolls. The state of Ohio maintained that these federal statutes supported its procedure, known as the Ohio Supplemental Process; the A. Philip…

Read More