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Back in late October, I wrote a story about 17 photos of black Victorians who showed how history really looked.

I scoured various online archives, historical records, and so forth to dig up what I could about the subjects of these stunning photographs, which I hoped would challenge people's historical perceptions of race, fashion, and social norms.

The reader response was tremendous.

Hundreds of thousands of people read and shared the story. People love to warn you not to read the comments (and sometimes rightly so), but in this case, the comments were downright inspiring.


The most remarkable comments came from readers who shared photos and stories of their own relatives who lived through that same era.

Today, I'd like to introduce you to some of those folks.

Photo via Ruth Cadenhead, used with permission.

1. Isabelle Norris's great-grandparents emigrated from Africa to the United States by way of Haiti.

Her great-grandmother came from Guinea while her great-grandfather was Egyptian. They encountered many obstacles on their journey, but they made it after all. To this day, their descendants maintain strong familial roots across the U.S., the Caribbean, and Europe.

Photo via Isabella Norris, used with permission.

"I hesitated before posting [this photo], and I was pleased to see that there were only positive responses," Norris said, "I find the idea of sharing part of our history interesting in that it could maybe help solve some of the mystery surrounding it and others involved in it, who knows?"

2. Rev. Cicero Chambers was born a slave in Texas and worked tirelessly to free himself and his wife, Jerlene.

According to his great-great-granddaughter Kim Guillaume, Chambers served for 22 years as moderator of the Cypress Baptist Association and helped to found several Baptist churches across eastern Texas as well as the historically black Bishop College, originally located in Marshall, Texas.

Photo via Kimberly Guillaume, used with permission.

3. Andria Thomas has researched her family all the way back to 1825, including her great-great grandmother, Linny Ellis Roberts.

Roberts was born in Colorado in the late 1800s and attended the historically black Oakwood College in Alabama. In fact, her descendants still have copies of all her notes from school. Her father owned a farm in New Mexico, and Roberts herself later owned and operated a grocery store along with her husband, Fred Douglas Roberts.

Photo via Andria Thomas, used with permission.

"Most of this ancestral line I have researched lived in the deep South, specifically Tennessee and Georgia," Thomas added about her family history. "In the census, they were recorded as either mulatto or black, but they almost always owned their property free and clear. Their neighbors were also mostly white. Not only that, but they were all literate, even though some of them were born before slavery ended."

Thomas also admitted that it was hard to know the exact context of her ancestors' lives. Still, the records she found were further evidence of the other untold stories of black lives throughout U.S. history.

4. Angela Brazil's family research led to the discovery of her oldest living relative, her great-great-grandmother Elizabeth Curry.

Brazil's journey into her ancestry took her on an actual trip from St. Louis, Missouri, to Cleveland, Ohio, where she had the opportunity to meet members of her family that she didn't even know existed until then.

In the photo, Curry's hair is wrapped in an updo, but according to family lore, Brazil's great-great-grandmother's beautiful locks fell all the way down to the floor.

Photo via Angela Brazil, used with permission.

5. Amy Noel Longmire shared a photo of her great-great grandma, Louise Burroughs Grandison of West Virginia, born in 1860.

According to family lore, Great-Great Grandma Grandison was an excellent seamstress, and the outfit she's wearing in the photograph was made entirely by her own hands. Her second-born son, Dr. Joseph Meredith Grandison, was one of the first black doctors in the state of West Virginia.

Photo via Amy Noel Longmire, used with permission.

"I wonder how perceptions inside and outside our culture would have changed if the narrative was more robust (and accurate) than poverty, slavery, and civil rights?" Longmire said about her dive into her family history. "We owned businesses, held advanced degrees, and succeeded in the face of real tyranny. Ours is a story of more than survival, but one of success. To see these stories ignored is frustrating."

Remarkably, after sharing the photo on Facebook, Longmire ended up connecting with another commenter who was also a Grandison from West Virginia, and the two are now trying to figure out if they're related.

6. Booker T. Brooks was born in Jackson County, Tennessee, in 1864.

His great-great-great-granddaughter Sarah Mason shared that he married a woman named Daisy Chappin and passed away in the same county around the turn of the century. There was little else known about him — but he sure knew how to dress.

Photo via Sarah Mason, used with permission.

Why did these photos resonate with all of us so much? Because the truth has been erased from history for far too long, and these people deserve to be a part of the narrative.

As one commenter so perfectly put it, "I'm standing in the Union Square subway station in NYC bawling my eyes out. This world has tried so hard to erase us from existence — hide our accomplishments, sweep our ancestors into closets, pretend we've only been slaves and maids. Those people lived life! I'm living life!"

That's the power of seeing yourself reflected in stories, in history, and in the world around you. What else is there to say?

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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This article originally appeared on July 2, 2019


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