|Where I learned the most about my family's incredibly rich history.|
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|Uncle Jake, looking exactly like my Mother's Brother Maurice "Dan" :-)|
"HE was a militant, a patriot, an African nationalist, and an American capitalist all wrapped in one."
Quote from Keith Henderson's review of Staking a Claim, Christian Monitor, April 1990. The book describes the life of my Grandfather's Uncle, Jake Simmons Jr. Jake Simmons Jr.'s history is so incredible, you have to read the book to put all the details into perspective. He's the grandson of Cow Tom, a freed Slave of the Cree Indians,who went on to become a Chief of that same tribe. Jake Simmons took his father's (My Great Great Grandfather Ray) work ethic and used it to educate himself and others. A good friend of Booker T Washington, he raised funds and recruited for Tuskegee University. He then went on to Broker Oil deals that took him all the way into the white house. He turned land into money for many poor Southerners, and later went on to become an international powerhouse. His story is not all glamour and glory, but you'll have to read the book to get all the details. I want to thank all of the Business Scholars who have studied and written about him. And a Big Shout Out to the Bloggers who have written about him simply because they find my Uncle's story worthy of sharing. (Links Below)
I've Always had extreme pride in being a Simmons, and a Black Indian, but I didn't know why I felt it so strongly. It was not until I read Greenberg's book that I recognized where that sense of pride came from. My 3x Great Grandfather had strong beliefs that were the epitome of familiar. Even though I felt connected to those in the past it was a strange and distant feeling of wondering why no one in the family talked about him in the present. I still have many theories about the reason. One theory is that family members who weren't included to share in his riches, would rather act as if he didn't exist. Basically, people are to busy caught up in their daily lives to respect/study people in their past especially those that they've never met. Sadly not realizing that not only do we share personality and physical traits of these individuals, but more importantly (for me at least) is that they do not simply die. They go on to become Ancestors (Angels) who can protect and guide us on to great things.
The Elders always warn us to Know Our History, "If you don't know where you come from, you don't know where you're going", are the words we've heard over and over again. Sad to say but the response from our youth could very well be "Because you don't talk to us." We are indeed in the information age, yet there is a healing magic that happens when an Elder tells you something wonderful and personal about your family, your city, and your people.
Our African American youth in the public school system, are taught a history that is mostly filled with things that bring shame versus the many beautiful truths about who we are, and what we've accomplished as a people. This carries over into the media and we're left with a society of youth filled with horrible self images. I'm imagining now what if every child in my family knew that they had a 4x Great Grandfather who had strong dreams and prayers of having enough land, so that we would be a village that relied on itself to survive? He then raised a man, Jake Simmons Jr to go on to become the first African American Oil Tycoon. Knowing that our history doesn't start and end with slavery sounds obvious to some, but not to a child. I'll continue to write this blog with the excitement of knowing that I'm telling my story, my history directly, and one day my grandchildren (not yet born) will be able to know where they come from.
Check out these articles and reviews.
SPECIAL Shout Out to my Mother Pamela Hooks-Simmons (inspiration) and my Oklahoma SISTER Dawn E. Day (rock)... I Love ya'll, you guys Get me!