Granny Mattie’s African American Treasures

In the early 90’s, eighty-five-year-old Granny Mattie Brown, the mother of 15 children and 31 grandchildren moved into one of my apartments with her youngest son Douglass and his wife. Please use your imagination to visualize a small cozy living room, with a small two-tiered table in the center. On the top of the table was a small collection of Mattie’s favorite items, but her most precious treasures were placed on the bottom shelf. It held her collection of books and family journals. At first, I wondered why Granny Mattie celebrated “Memory Sundays”. I can’t tell you the answer right now, but when you read my story, it’ll give you food for thought.

The first book I saw on the bottom shelf, was an original copy of abolitionist, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s, Uncle Tom’s Cabin – an anti-slavery novel published in 1852. This book was based on actual events from freed slave narratives, anti-slavery newspapers and first-hand accounts. More than 10,000 copies were sold in the first week.

The second book was written by another abolitionist, Fredrick Douglass. It was an autobiography of his life titled, The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, An American Slave.

Beneath the copy of his book, was a large faded black and white copy of Harriet Tubman, wrapped in plastic. I found out that in 1849, Harriet, along with her two brothers, escaped slavery from Maryland and fled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They followed the North Star on their 90-mile journey.

Mattie’s most important items on that shelf were her great, great Granny Pearly’s slave journal and her own family journal.  When you read the novel, soon to be published, you’ll step back in time to learn the importance of family names and the many truths regarding Afro-American history including the value of “Memory Sundays”.