History Pieces Us Together

C. Lionel Spencer  

Who are you? Who am I? As we grow and mature, we search for traits in our character that make us, us. We ask ourselves what is it that makes us unique and separates us from the rest. We realize that we are brilliant in mathematics, or that we have thing for humor, or that we are deeply connected to the earth.  Then we look around at our neighborhoods, or immediate families, and began to feel a sense of self.  We are like no other, right?

But the idea of being an individual, or breaking away from the norm is a very western idea. In most African cultures religion and professions, among many other things are passed down from generation to generation. As African Americans I believe we embrace being American all too easily, and forget the blood that still runs through our veins.  Even with all our changes, from slavery until now, we are still more African than we would like to admit. I believe we are still in many ways a reflection of our families past.  

Think about what you believe, why you believe it and how you came to believe it! Consider what drives you and what you are passionate about! Ask yourself, am I the only person in my entire family who’s ever thought like this? Some will justifiably say yes, given that they don’t know much about their family history. But before you once again default on being a unique American, let me first share with you some of my story. Afterward I challenge you to look through your own family history, dead or alive, and find out who you really are.

I am a 26 year old African American man who was raised in the South Bronx of New York. I am a writer and an artist who aspires to become a Creative Writing Professor, because I’m so unique right?  Well, about a year ago I found out that music runs through my family like the Nile River. My great grandfather, Henry Scott Sr, was a musician who owned a night club in Georgia, and was a professor at Savannah State University. He played various instruments including the guitar and the saxophone while teaching algebra.

Who would have known four generations before me stood a relative in my family who I share similar passions with. Many of our youth today pride themselves in being so different, that they turn their backs on their own families. Instead of searching and embracing the many similarities that will be found within their history, they remove themselves from it.

So who am I? I guess, Corey Lionel Spencer’s, a piece of Henry Scott in many ways. And I’m pretty sure after much more digging I will be a distant aunt or cousin or brother too.  

So let me ask, do you know the men and women that came generations before you? Speak to your mothers and fathers and aunts, because I’m pretty sure if and when you journey back you will find you, maybe a little less refined, but still you. 

C. Lionel Spencer is a New York resident and writer, who is devoted to using his talent of writing to move our world community forward.
Check out his blog, an allegory of life, at http://percepperspectnpeople.blogspot.com.

9 thoughts on “History Pieces Us Together

  1. Thanks for this article! It would be scary yet interesting to find someone in my family history that was just like me. I guess that is a testiment to heritage and culture.

  2. I have a very similar story, I’m studying to be in the ministry and I found out that my family had at least 5 ministers about has far back as my grandmother can remember. We really should honor our family more and find out about ourselves. It would be great information to pass down to our children.

  3. Wow great story, there always seems to be a piece of us some place or some where. Bottom line we are all connected regardless of how badly we might want to deny it. God is awesome!

  4. Great observation! All my family lives down in Mexico, so I don’t have easy access to my family line. But I talk to my parents whenever I visit, to get information about my ancestry. I do know that one of my great grandfathers was a rug salesman, and he was murdered for his money. Maybe he was very successful, and was targeted for his success? That may contribute to my entrepreneurial spirit!

  5. I think this is great.

    It’s introspective and full of Hope. I view this topic from a slightly a different perspective. Having been adopted into my family as a young child, the lines of my ansistry are blurred.Therefor my struggle can be more about identifying myself throught the connection of those who came before me ,whereas being an indivitual within my immediate family structure is a given.

    After reading this is was nice to feel connected even if I am not 100% certain of what biological structure I am an immediate shadow of. It also ignites a fire for me to be more dilligiant in this matter and search it out. Although the search will most likely be a bit more difficult than if I were currently connected with my biological life line it makes the prospects of finding something “Wonderfully Me” all the more brighter.


  6. What you’re saying makes a lot of sense. I was speaking with my sister and my aunt recently and found out that we all have the same gifts. The gifts seemed to be passed down from generation to generation because my grandmother has it, my mom has it, and so do me and my sister. While it was reassuring to find people in my family like me, it was an eye opener too. We all have the same gifts yet we choose to use them in different ways. Even so, whether you use your gift for good or bad, there seems to be no discrimination from God in having or giving them.

  7. Interesting article bro, I wonder ewho you been talking to. Lol
    Anyway I knew for quite sometime that I didn’t have to go far to know where my love of music and even more so, where love for the trumpet came from.
    Even though I can remember Uncle Henry playing his trumpet when we were younger, learning from our aunt that he played in a band, It never crodssed my mind when choosing that instrument or
    Even falling in love with. Not until my H.S. Graduation when our mother made mention while I was playing for the H.S. Band that I reminded her so much of her brother. That was a moment I will never forget.
    So yeah the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

    As in life you learn something new everyday and I definitely learned something from you article. Keep up the good work, can’t wait to read your next piece.

  8. Thanks for sharing. I agree that individuality is a very American mindset. Even in the Caribbean, where I’m from, we still have a community based mindset. I think if more people thought about their family/community, our society would be allot different. Do you know there are some Asian countries where there is not legal age for drinking alcohol. But you wouldn’t find children/youths getting drunk because they know it would shame their family and community.
    Growing up, many of my decisions came from a fear of bringing shame to my family-it kept me from doing drugs, smoking, excessive drinking, it kept me in school. Unfortunately this individualistic mindset is spreading all over in today’s generation so ppl have stopped caring about each other. Anyways, this was great. Thanks again.


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