Andre's Reviews > Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery

Help Me to Find My People by Heather Andrea Williams
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's review
Aug 27, 2012

it was amazing
Read in August, 2012

What a great and worthy contribution made by Heather Williams. She absolutely explodes the myth of uncaring, unfeeling, unemotional and detached African-Americans coming out of slavery. Inspired by "information wanted" ads that the former enslaved placed in newspapers and sent to church bulletins to help them reconnect with family members lost during slavery, Ms. Williams examines the emotional impact of these separations.  Her research centers around these notices and the depth of that research shows up in this wonderful book. Although the book is historical, it doesn't read like a dense academic disquisition.

The prose is novel-like and vignettes are used throughout the book to illustrate the feelings of obvious grief and separation. It's really amazing to learn that after being in servitude for years, one would have enough energy and resilience to look for loved ones, that in some cases they had not seen in 20, 30 years. So often the picture painted around slavery, is that the enslaved were docile and lacking in emotional substance. After reading this book, you will never allow such expressions to be voiced in your presence. I think this book should be required reading for everyone in America! 

There are some great lessons here, one talks about a woman returning to her "husband" after taking up with another man, because she thought her "husband" was dead. Is that not an example of how serious they thought of "marriage?" 
Another details a love letter written by a John to his former "wife" explaining his present predicament of a failed remarriage, and he was writing to inquire about her current status. I use quotes around husband, wife and marriage because, property can't legally marry. But despite that reality, these unions were taken seriously and often honored. 

Do yourself a favor and take this journey with Heather Andrea Williams. I'm thrilled I did and you will be also.
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12/09/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Mj (new)

Mj Just saw this book was added to my city's library collection. Was interested in it and your well written review peaked my interest even further. Thanks for taking the time to share.

Andre Well, thank you so very much, I do hope you enjoy it.

message 3: by Mj (new)

Mj Fyi, I typed too fast. Should have typed piqued.

Andre I knew what you meant.

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