Invitation To Tell Your Story



Consider this to be an invitation extended to you anywhere in the world; regardless of religion — whether young or old, male or female, Black, White, East Indian, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, Native American Indian…well, you get the picture.
Working with the Arnett family in Kentucky, I became involved in their stories about their past. I laugh with them and felt a deep kinship with them without meeting them face to face. Their stories were so vivid and told a story of family members without pictures. I could see the story so clearly in their words and how they gave their story life and breath.
I decided to do it again by just putting out this invitation. As with the Arnett’s, nothing will be published without the family permissions. I will send the written stories back to the family genealogist I met for possible inclusion on their family website.
The Arnett’s are a multicolored family whose location for most of them is in Salyersville and Henderson, KY.
Even though I will be specific about the details of each story, the main targeted in this endeavor doesn’t have any particular skin color, gender or geographical location. The Enemy to be unmasked/exposed in this uplifting endeavor is Prejudice, Bigotry, Racism, and Narrow-Mindedness — wherever prevalent — which is embodied in a person who does have a particular skin color, gender, and geographical location.
To be perfectly honest, I have had to come face to face with my feelings of race, prejudices, narrow opinions about others of color not my own. I have processed the fact that some of my relatives were slave owners, fought with the Confederate Army and wrote slave laws long ago. I know a family who gave up their slaves and worked to abolish slave and were a part of the underground railroad from Florida to Canada. This is my family and I have worked through my own feelings about events and places. Without the courage of my ancestors, I would not be who I am today. This is where I come from, this is how I got to be, this is me.
The truth is the main friend of this endeavor. Truth-centric. I want the readers to feel the heartache inflicted by prejudice. I also want the reader to feel hope. I see myself merely as a storyteller through which very private pain can be communicated, along with the wisdom lessons that somehow emerge out of grief. That is the purpose of this endeavor, The Moment
My interest in this project was enhanced during my research for the mother of Mary Arnett born in 1821 in Kentucky. I was inspired by Joyce McCullum my cousin to research her GGG grandmother. I am an African-American who’s great great great great grandfather was a plantation owner in Wake County, NC and his father a plantation owner in Powhatan, VA.
When I interviewed the Arnett’s, they volunteered to talk about themselves and the racism they faced from both sides black and white. During these interviews I was becoming more and more interested in the idea of people sharing their earliest memories of prejudice and how they were affected by it — mentally, emotionally, physically, relationally and spiritually.
“Do you remember The Moment, when you realized that because of
the color of your skin that the rules were somehow different for you?”
It was this question that unlocked the door for people to share some deep experiences. Asking you to answer a question like that or having to do with other aspects [nationality? gender? class? language? religion? physical characteristics?]. But also please consider going deeper, by answering some additional questions. I am putting together stories for future publication.
How did you feel at The Moment in the past? Plus, how have you dealt with The Moment since it occurred? What wisdom lessons do you want to pass on to the next generation? I am looking for storytellers. I am also asking you to draw a picture (No, I’m not an artist either) in 3-5 minutes that best depicts the scene during your experience of The Moment. This picture may represent your memory either symbolically or literally. Call me if you need more clarification. Cell: 240-678-6076.
Are You Open to Participating in this Project?
“A family journey in the past to the present”. This going to be very similar to reading the “Slave Narratives”

Please submit your stories.
This publication or story for the families involved will be filled with real/honest experiences, with a hopeful theme. The purpose:
A). To educate/sensitize readers regarding the realities experienced by minorities. “Post Traumatic Slave Disorder” (PTSD).
B). Offer a mental, emotional and spiritual roadmap for any reader who is experiencing prejudice.
(You may even want to function as a storyteller sharing the story of a friend who is considered a minority in your country…and what happened to make you first realize the rules for your friend are different. What has this understanding opened in your own heart and mind?)
Copy the following points and paste them into the main body of an email or as a Word Document. Focus your experience (s) upon the following items:
1. “This is my recollection of the first defining moment when, because of my __________ [color of skin? nationality? gender? class? language? religion? physical characteristics?], I realized that the rules were somehow different for me…” –Please cover the who, what, when, how, where and why aspects as you remember them. (If you can’t remember a specific moment, answer this the best you can. I am looking for the story of your earliest moment) — something like…”It was a hot August day and I was in 1st Grade, on my way home from the store…” or Moonbaby at 10 years old, her web name “confronting a rattlesnake on the bridge from her house to her aunt’s house and she ran and got her grandfather’s shovel and pound the snake to death. Her grandfather looked at the shovel all bent up and laugh about it. He was proud of her courage confronting the snake”. To be able to effectively communicate your story I need to know details about “the moment”, like weather conditions, what was said or not said, what you were wearing, the location, your immediate feelings, body language, how you responded, etc..
2. This is specifically what happened to me or to a friend (or how you became sensitized to this issue through someone else’s experience. For example — Do you remember The Moment when you realized that you have “Privilege” (because of skin color, class, gender, etc.)? When and how when did you vicariously experience that or come to that realization?)
3. Immediately and then over the years, this is how I was affected mentally, emotionally, physically, relationally, spiritually —
4. “As I look back on my life in relation to all of this, the life wisdom lessons I have learned are…” — (In other words, what wisdom lessons do you want to pass along to the next generation?)
5. Explain what you currently see on the job, in your neighborhood, and at church with regard to prejudice
6. “This is what I would like to say to young people who will be facing the same types of things I confronted.”
7. “I am (hopeful) (not hopeful) about race relations/diversity in my country, because…” (I’m not looking for positive or negative — just your perspective. And I am open to you sharing your beliefs about how God views all of this) —
8. If you live in a country that profited from the labors of your ancestors in slavery, do you feel that your country owes you anything? Why or why not?
9. I need some specific information from you, like gender, race, age, part of the world you were raised in and where you reside now. And if you are in another part of the world, it sure would be great if you can share your perspective on human relations in that part of the world and the perspectives folks around you have about America.
10. I am also asking you to draw a picture (No, I’m not an artist either) in 3-5 minutes that best depicts the scene during your experience of The Moment. This picture (drawn on plain white paper with a black ink pen) may represent your memory either symbolically or literally. Please do not spend more than 5 minutes on the drawing. With honesty, try to put yourself back in the moment of the situation you are trying to capture on paper. I prefer that you scan the picture on at least 300 dpi resolution. I prefer to keep everything digital. and email it along with your story.
10. Here are the next steps:
a. After you have responded to this invitation, I will probably want to talk with you by phone if I have selected your story. If you are from another country, I will probably continue to dialogue by email.
b. I will then send you the final edit for your input. I will be using the literary license as I attempt to make your experiences more accessible to the reader. Most everyone will be known by first name and last initial unless you want your full name to be known (e.g. Brian K. or Susan G.). You can make up an alias if you want. I will also want to have a brief bio to introduce your piece (e.g. Susan K. — the 34-year-old woman, Sr. Vice President of Sales of a pharmaceutical company, living in Manhattan…)
c. I am also positive that if published my publisher will want you to sign a release, allowing me to use your story.
d. This process will take almost a year before it is completed, so please be patient…
e. If you have any friends from similar or different nationalities who might like to participate, please refer them to this page.
Thank you for your potential part in this project. I am pleased to mention that a percentage of the royalties from the sales of The Moment will be going to The Freeman Institute Foundation.
If your story is chosen, you will receive a complimentary signed copy of the story and or book as a token expression of my appreciation for your participation, along with a few extra signed copies to give away…Please send in your contribution as soon as possible. The sooner the better. Initially, you may send an email indicating your level of interest and when you believe you will have your story in written form.

Email Address:
100,000 Blessings,
Duke B. Montgomery

2 responses

  1. Duke, this is a wonderful project for sharing. I just went through this process (it took 15 years) in finding my kinfolk. I recently released a small book detailing my journey. The book shares anecdotes and photographs of cousins, grandmothers and other relatives that I’ve discovered. The name of my book is, “Our Mother*s Dresses” The dress is really a metaphor for the color of flesh of my family.

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