August 3, 2017 by rochesterhistoricalnh
On Thursday, February 14, at 7 PM at the Rochester Historical Society Museum on Hanson Street, Michael Cameron Ward will answer questions and read from his book A Colored Man in Exeter, the first of four volumes in the collection Sketches of Lee. In the event of inclement weather the program will be held the following Thursday, February 21, at 7 PM.
Ward says, “Traditionally black families have maintained their oral histories over generations. The Wards were no exception. So before he passed at age 94 on June 9th, 2015, my father Harold E Ward made a request. ‘Michael will you do me a favor? Please write down our family history. I want my Grand (7) and Great-Grandchildren (9) to know from whence they came.’
And so I have. My family’s place in local history is notable. We left Brooklyn, NY in the summer of 1957 to escape gang violence, ending up on a dirt road in Lee. In doing so we became the ‘Index of Integration’ for Lee and the Oyster River School District. After my first day in kindergarten, I went home and watched the integration of Little Rock on TV!
In 1959 my father retired from the US Navy as a Petty Officer 1st Class, Commissaryman. Once retired he then began his professional career in order to support his wife, Virginia, and their 4 children. And just like us, he too became the ‘Index of Integration,’ but this time in the Exeter, NH restaurant trade.
None of these stories have ever been told outside of our family. Some of them have an edge, some are funny, some are not, but all of them are real. The crux of many of these accounts was how race affected, or not, his life and the progression of our relatively ‘normal’ family.
The story subtitles encapsulate his guiding principles and life lessons. And like him, they are un-buffered, direct and honest. It has been wrenching to recount them. Some will be equally painful for you to read. But it is okay to cry, for you can take solace in the fact that not only did he survive, but he prospered.”
Admission is free and all are welcome to attend. Refreshments will follow the meeting. Ward will have books available for purchase.
For more information please call 330-3099 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.