Special Education Today Newsletter 1(4)

This was a week that was…was what?

Welcome to the fourth issue for the first year of the rebirth of this venerable newsletter. It’s the 11th of July 2021, and it’s been, as they say, an “interesting” week for Special Education Today and for me. Here’re notes about what’s been happening in the magazine in the week since the previous issue. You’ll find the usual contents: house-keeping notes, a list of recent posts, and some half-baked commentary.

Who’s here?

SET grew substantially this past week! There were over 700 new visitors to the site. There are greater than 250 registered e-mail addresses. Clearly, some of y’all are sharing SET posts and those shares are leading to more traffic and sign-ups. Thank you!

If you received an email notice about this issue of the SET newsletter, your address is almost certainly in the data base. If the newsletter was forwarded to you, please click on a link in it and sign up at the Web site.

There doesn’t appear to have been much interaction with the content this past week. Perhaps some folks posted comments or “likes” on some older posts, but I didn’t go back very far…sigh. So, I’m a little low on shout-outs this week. But, flash of the electrons to Michael K. for his support!

I anticipate dropping another Tweet this coming week. It’ll come from my Twitter feed, @JohnWillsLloyd. Please watch for it and help distribute it.

Current Contents

There were four posts this past week in the magazine. As you'll see, they cover diverse topics. Read those that you find interesting…but, preferably, read them all (and comment, like, share)!

Features

Alert readers (who would be all y’all) probably noticed that some of the posts this week have “olds” in the title. That’s because I’m republishing posts from some of my other earlier Web products. I have literally (not figuratively) 100s (probably 1000s) of posts from blogs that I created and sustained from the early 2000s to about 2017. Sadly, in about 2017, the server on which I maintained them died. I am not able to pull the content directly from the MySQL data base (or from backups), so I am depending on the wonderful Archive.com (i.e., “the wayback machine”). I can scrape posts from there one at a time. I’ll scour the old content sometimes and drop those items into SET. As of now, I plan to designate them with “olds” rather than “news.”

Personal notes

I devoted many hours this past week to a personal history project.

As a privileged individual born in Virginia who knows a bit about his family history, I can visit the gravesites of my forebears. Many of them are just 30-40 min away from my hone.

I can show a guest the markers indicating where some of my maternal great-great grandparents are buried. Indeed, I have a pretty good idea where a couple of earlier generations of some grandparents are buried, stretching back to the 1700s. Although most of the more recent graves are in traditional cemeteries located adjacent to churches, some of them are buried at what we would call plantations. 

Of course, white people in Virginia who had the wherewithal to mark their graves that long ago or to be buried in marked graves at their homes were probably white people who had enslaved other people. There is, indeed, a history of enslavement in my family.

Actually, family lore indicates that a “slave burying ground” is adjacent to one of the homes owned by my ancestors. The property for the cemetery has been out of my family since the 1930s, but I have evidence about its location. The site is located by a home that I frequented as a child, the actual site of my mother’s and grandmother’s births, as well as the births of several Wills family progenitors…and probably many enslaved children. 

So, I have been working with a local historical society to help locate it. There are an unknown number of graves at the site. None are marked or, at least, have currently visible markers. Some are probably for enslaved people who worked that plantation before it came into my family in the first half of the 1800s. But, surely, some of the graves entomb people enslaved by my GG grandparents between (let’s say) 1840 and 1865.

As I said, there are no headstones. The cemetery property is owned by someone who wants to sell it and who, in personal coversation, explained to me that there couldn’t be graves “there,” because she didn’t see any markers. The current owners are hoping to sell the property for $1million. (If I had a spare million, I’d buy it right away!)

The spot at the intersection of two highly trafficked  highways is perfect for some company to create a huge gas station or truck stop.—Hello, WaWa or Sheets? I’d be very saddened to see the “slave burying grounds” beneath a lot of asphalt and commercial activity. People pulling in and walking around would have no idea that they were walking on tops of the graves of family members’ going back generations.

I do not know who is buried there, but I suspect that some people in the general neighborhood—in the county—can trace their kin back to my family’s ancestral home. I am looking for those families. I would like, with their collaboration, to see that property turned into a memorial. People may not know that their specific ancestors were buried there, but it might be nice for them to have a place where they can go…point…and tell their children that their GGgrandparents might be buried there. Take some flowers. Have a picnic. Celebrate their ancestors.

Moreover, for all the families who trace their histories and are stymied because of enslavement, who cannot get past a generation in the 17 or 1800s,  I would like this same spot to become a place where they could go and have an opportunity to honor their forebears. I just want to do what I can to honor the people buried there. 

So, this project has consumed what, in the computer world, we call “a lot of cycles” for me recently. I expect that it will continue to do so in the future. My parents and grandparents (and great grandparents, though I only have hear-say about that—working on legal data) gave a damn about protecting that bit of land where enslaved people were buried. I’m getting old (haha), so I better work on this while I can.

Remember to watch out for family and your history, and to teach your children well.

—JohnL

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