Recent events have brought to mind a faded document I found at the Library of Virginia in 2009. It’s a slave patrol report from Norfolk County, 1831. George W. Orton, to whom my great-great-great-great-grandfather, Charles Orton was enslaved, signed off. George wasn’t just a member of the patrol, but its eager Sergeant. In 1834, George sold Charles, Jr. in Richmond’s vast slave market. In 1853, George sold Charles, Sr., in Portsmouth, for a few hundred dollars to cover a gambling debt. Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Walter Scott, Laquan McDonald, Oscar Grant, Freddie Gray, Fred Hampton, and the thousands of others that weren’t filmed or publicized..the roots of this injustice go back hundreds of years. Echoing Fannie Lou Hamer, “i’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Enough.
Professional genealogist and public historian. Graduate of Duke University. President of the Sacred Grounds Project, Inc. Studying historic African American cemeteries and communities.