While researching my family tree, I learned that my sixth great-grandparents, Thomas and Sarah, had lived in Westchester County, N.Y. , in the 1700s.
Online is a photo of the house they lived in -- a large, white, two-story house.
Nearby is a small wooden building painted a rusty red. It looks like a storage shed, but the caption says, "former slave quarters." When I saw this, I felt as if I'd been punched.
It was difficult to learn this, and I wondered if the parents of Thomas and Sarah had also owned slaves.
I found the handwritten will of Sarah's father, which said, "To my son John I bequeath the Sum of Ten Pounds, the House with the Orchard and Barn, and also my young Negro Jeffery." Son Roger would get a good piece of land "and also my Negro Mark." His three daughters and their husbands would share the proceeds from the sale of land, and they could also keep the Negroes that he had previously lent them, according to the will.
I had known that slaves had been considered property, but it was painful to see this in the handwritten will of my ancestor.
America still suffers from our generations-long sin of prejudice and discrimination. Racism is a blight that has infected our nation since its birth. It will not be easy to turn this around.
We'll need a thoughtful and effective president, as well as good governors, mayors, teachers, neighbors and leaders from all faiths. We all must fix this.
Becky Post, La Crosse
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