According to the Oxford English Dictionary, legacy is defined as “the long-lasting impact of particular events, actions, etc. that took place in the past, or of a person’s life.” Black history and culture encapsulates the legacy of Black people. I celebrate those who dared to dream and those who survived despite injustice.
The contribution I celebrate begins with the legacies within my own family. When considering Seattle’s local Black history, I trace the impact of those who came before me.
My Black history begins at an intersection where two bloodlines of Seattleites meet.
Indigenous peoples and communities have long used stories to understand the world and our place in it. Seedcast is a story-centered podcast by Nia Tero and a special monthly column produced in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald about nurturing and rooting stories of the Indigenous experience.
One of my earliest memories is of my grandfather waking up every morning before the sun came up. I was born in 1969 and in my early years, before my mother married my father, we lived with my grandparents. By the time I was maybe 4 or 5, my grandfather had retired. He had served in World War II in the motor pool in the South Pacific, and then, when he came to Seattle, he got a job at the Naval shipyards down on the piers here in the sound, later working with the transportation department until his retirement in the early ’70s. He came from a family of tenant farmers who migrated to the Northwest from the South who were used to working on the land. Their work ethic never left him.
The Seattle Globalist was a daily online publication that covered the connections between local and global issues in Seattle. The Emerald is keeping alive its legacy of highlighting our city’s diverse voices by regularly publishing and re-publishing stories aligned with the Globalist’s mission.
(A version of this article originally appeared in the Seattle Globalist.)
“I know your grandmother’s real name.”
Those were the words of Denise Grollmus’ mother on her 28th birthday — the day she found out she was Jewish.
The Holocaust destroyed most of the Jewish population in Poland before 1945. Jews that survived did so by physically going into hiding or by renouncing their Jewish identity.
That’s what Grollmus’ grandmother did. In Nazi-controlled Poland, the family begun masquerading as Catholic to avoid persecution … and kept the charade going for generations.