I was disappointed that no one in my family could recall where Mandy had been captured. My mother explained that her memory was beginning to fail. Although she had forgotten some details, other members of the family had intentionally forced the knowledge from their minds. Such valuable information had survived more than 250 years, only to be lost in one or two generations. We could no longer place our ancestors and our cultural heritage in the world that existed before the transatlantic slave trade displaced and redefined us. Writing down the stories would save details from being lost in the recesses of aging memories.
In order to find evidence that our family had lived on the American landscape for centuries, my grandfather and, later, my mother sought out and saved what documents and photographs they could. Yet history had tried to deny our existence. Faced with such erasures and with lost or rejected memories, I could foresee losing everything, fact by fact, until, finally, there was silence—nothing to know, nothing to say. With the box now in my hands, I prayed for the ability to prevent the loss of any more information, no matter how unsettling or seemingly trivial.
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