“Sing the praises of our ancestors”

A post by Rosemary Mullally touched my soul because it conveyed  the burning desire deep within me to collect and share the stories of my family:

“As an African American living in a country and a society of Africans, I can’t help but feel proud, yet saddened.  Proud that not every part of our African culture was erased by our enforced journey into slavery, yet saddened that so much of our history and knowledge is lost.  African American Griots do exist in the form of our historians, writers, actors, musicians, parents, grandparents and our selves.  We sing the praises of our ancestors, we tell their stories, we give them their rightful place in history and we are the keepers of their memories. As we research our families, let us become a part of the gift giving competition, bestowing our gifts of knowledge upon our fellow Griots, sharing information and resources, praising each other’s successes.  May our loud and long praises echo down the centuries, from generation to generation, never ending”   Rosemary Mullally, American Grio, Bamako , Mali, January 2005

Posted in evolving life experiences, family history | Leave a comment

Health care and the Affordable car act (ACA)

The ACA requires those who do not have health insurance to make a sacrifice so that (1) emergency rooms are used as true emergencies and not as primary health care; and (2) so that local taxes which support the indigent care given to those in the ER room, may be used for much needed items used by all, i.e. improved roads, transportation, the list goes on. Of course there are others reasons, but these are my top two.

I graduated law school in 1992, clerked for a judge for two years and had great health insurance because of my government job. I started my own law practice in 1994, in a city where I didn’t know another soul prior to moving here. I came to Savannah as a newly wed in a marriage that was subsequently annulled. I became a single mother again, As I had been previously divorced with a ten year old daughter. I did not know on a daily basis, not to mention weekly or monthly basis, how I would pay my mortgage, car note, law school loans, rent for my office and my supplies to practice law. But I understood that health insurance for myself and my daughter had to be a priority in the budget. I cannot tell you how I managed to get the bills paid except by faith. And not all bills were paid on time, some were late, 30 days late sometimes -which of course negatively impacted my credit rating. But the bills were paid. Whenever, I was truly at my wits end, miraculously my mortgage company would send me a certificate permitting me to skip a payment which permitted the funds to be used elsewhere, or a client would walk through the door.

I learned to live without cable, vacations and other luxuries. And I was blessed to have child support (from husband #1) and a mentor who helped me get started in the practice. My only asset was a laptop when I started my practice. My mentor lent me a beautiful pine desk, rented a room in his office/home(on a sliding scale proportionate to my intake), and gave me permission to print my docs on his printer using floppy disks (as this was long before wireless). That setup worked until his secretary became too inconvenienced and he charged me to buy my own printer. Also remember back in 1994, printers were quite pricey.

I bought a $900 laser printer on my Amex card and prayed that I would have the money when the bill was due in full at the end of the month. A few days later, a new client entered my office needing an attorney for a mediation between her union and former employer for a wrongful termination case. The mediation was scheduled two days from the date she walked into the office. She had come in to seek from my mentor, but had no money for a retainer. He was a well known local civil rights litigator. (Justice Thomas clerked for him, more on that in another blog). He referred her to me.
She told me she didn’t trust black lawyers. She is black. I prepared her case, negotiated a settlement and the case generated a $9000 fee for me. My prayers were answered and I was able to pay for that printer when the Amex bill became due.

I currently have premium health insurance because I married a union man. My daughter missed the 26 year old cut off under ACA and therefore she could not be covered under our insurance while she completed her master’s degree in public health. She has used the ER room for much needed, but not life-saving medical treatment.

My daughter is waiting to become insured when her employer has open enrollment. She needs it, her maternal grandmother had breast cancer; I have the BRCA gene mutation that predicts a greater likelihood of breast and other cancers than the general public. I pray that she follows through and makes the sacrifice and makes health insurance a priority. I want her to have health insurance for her welfare and for selfish reasons. I do not want to go broke should she ever require expensive life saving medical treatment.

My point is this: we the peeps- Americans, have forgotten two of the most important lessons learned by our ancestors- sacrifice and “making do” in order to survive. I am still learning to sacrifice, I am not often successful but I continue to strive and to resist the addiction of the conspicuous consumption of goods I don’t need and really cannot afford.

Posted in evolving life experiences | Leave a comment


1 Corinthians 2:14
New International Version (NIV)
“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”

I typically give free consultations on the telephone. However, if a potential client insists that she have an office review of her papers, I charge a consultation fee. On one occasion, a politician from a small town in Georgia was not satisfied with my determination that I was unable to assist her in her case and insisted upon bring me documents to review in support of her plea for my assistance. I warned her that I would charge her a consultation fee for an hour at my then hourly rate.

She arrived, I collected her fee, I reviewed her file and came to the same conclusion. Further, the documents revealed her former lawyer had negotiated an agreement which included a waiver of her ability to appeal.

It was then that the Spirit directed me to give her the consultation check back. Well, I was not happy about that. I was in my early stages of discernment, and I obeyed.

Luke 11:28
Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” (NLT)

As I gathered her papers to return to her, I placed the check on top exposing: “I am returning your check because the Spirit has directed me to do so and I try to obey when I am so directed. It is NOT out of the kindness of my heart, and it is NOT because I do not need this check. It is because I am learning to be obedient when the Spirit reveals actions for me to take.” At that point she broke down and cried. She told me ” I had to borrow the money for the consultation. I have helped many people in the past and now that I need support no one was there for me, and I LOST MY FAITH IN GOD.”

My simple act of obedience, helped her to see that God had not left her side. When God closes a door, we must look forward and give thanks to the one He will open. I only heard from her on one other occasion; she called to tell me she doing well.

Posted in discernment | Leave a comment

On finding white slave master ancestors

All my life I was told that all four of my grandparents had mixed race backgrounds. Of course, this was no surprise as my father was light skinned with”good hair” from his mulatto grandparents on both paternal and maternal sides. My mother was brown skinned with Indian mix from the Eastern shore on her father’s side and a mulatto grandmother on her maternal side.
My father died when I was 12, so I searched most of my life for his roots to somehow stay connected to him. His mother’s sister, held the clues of the white family from which we were descended on his mother’s side,but she only had the last name,Hall. Her mother, my great grandmother, Pearl, shared the family history with me when I was 11 years old during a summer stay. One day she unlocked the door of the parlor and revealed her past, my past, the ancestors. When she died twenty years later, I sought out those portraits of our shared past.



Posted in evolving life experiences | Leave a comment


I cannot believe that so many people barely know the names of their grandparents, not to mention their grandparents. I’m reading “American Tapestry” by Rachel Smirns http://vimeo.com/42383532
I cannot believe that baby boomers are surprised to learn of miscegenation in the not so distant past. It is disingenuous for white people on Henry Louis Gates’ show <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wnet/finding-your-roots/&quot; to be surprised that their ancestors owned slaves.

I believe that in every family, someone is "hard wired" to tell the family history. I am glad I was chosen to be the deli or griot of my family. My father was the one before me. He passed onto me the stories. I listened to the adults over the years.

I was blessed to know two great grandmothers, two step grandmothers, and my personal spiritual advisor in life, my maternal grandmother. For it was grandma Brooks who planted the seeds of the Ho,y Spirit in me at her Pentecostal church. As I evolved from baptist to Episcopalian to CME to Believer, I thank my grandmother for her teachings, discussions, and patience.

Posted in evolving life experiences | Leave a comment

Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron will not be reincarnated as fly on the wall. She has been there and done that. She had to be because she wrote about my life in the movie “Heartburn!” why else would she use the name Mark Foster for the character played byJack Nicholson? My husband was Mark Fortson! I lived the Amex scene. But I wanted to run out of the movie screaming when the MF of the movie stole the MF in my life’s most obnoxious line, about reading something other than the “style” section of the Washington Post. I had to move to the South so that she could no longer reveal my secrets! But I deliciously reveled in her humor and honesty in revealing the romantic tribulations of others. RIP fly on the wall.

Posted in evolving life experiences | Leave a comment

Hello human family

Welcome to Djeli- Here you will find history, praises, testimonies of faith- How we got over. This is Djeli, because we must learn from the past in order to move successfully forward. The past brought us to this day by faith; and by faith we get through each day until we reach that final day when we are silenced and we pass on. The day when we go on to where others have gone- where our soul/essence/ energy joins the greater force that keeps the eternal order.

Posted in evolving life experiences | Leave a comment