“from two, we are many”

The other day, I asked Niece if anyone was speaking at the Holiday Party this year. I didn't really know what I was asking but here I am.

For a while, I have been thinking about our phrase, “from two, we are many”. I don't know, something about it has just been sitting in my spirit. 

A while ago, someone asked me to describe my family and I stumbled over my words. I couldn't fit our dynamic into one sentence. I don't even think I could encompass it into this little speech I wrote. But the least I could do is try again.

If I had to describe my family to someone who has neer met them, I'd tell them about Halloween 2012. On a very cold October night in 2012, I went to a halloween party with my best friend. We played games, we painted pumpkins and we indulged in krogers finest candy. 

My sugar rush didn't last long. 

Upon arriving, I saw cars lined up in the driveway. This wasn't unusual. Since I can remember, people have come over to my house after church to eat and fellowship. But it wasn't sunday. It was a cold October day. I know this because I remember feeling the cold breeze across my cheek as I saw the glass lining up to the front door.

Someone had broken in. 

While my family was away, someone had invaded our home and taken some of our valuables.

I don't remember much from that night because I was 12 and terrified. But I do remember the cars parked in the driveway.I remember my family crowding the house picking up the pieces and taping up the window. 

This may not seem like the type of story you'd tell someone in order to give them a good understanding of family. But it was the first time I understood what family means. It's not just people you grow up in a house with or see on the holidays.

At least not my family. My family is the type of family to pick up the pieces when glass is shattered, when hearts are broken and when worlds come crashing down. 

Yes, they're present for births, weddings, birthday parties and events. So are our co workers but how many coworkers do you know that will call off work to spend a night with you in the hospital or have food catered when a loved one passes. 

It is in the dark moments that love shows its light. 

When I think of “from two, we are many”,  I first think of the two. Minerva White and Charles Toliver, the parents of Margaret Alice Toliver and James Toliver, the two siblings who started the reunion, who were all slaves. Minerva was born in1825 and Charles was born in 1821. Right around when John Quincy Adams became president, the 6th president of the United states. We are now on our 46th president. That's how far we can trace this blood, back to the creation of the Missouri compromise, the completion of the Erie Canal, the invention of Braille that blind people use to understand the world, and when there were only 23 states. 

We may not know where we come from in Africa but we know where we are. We are the many that came from the two. We are the abolitionists, the freed slaves, the born free, the freedom fighters, the revolutionists. We are the dreams of Minerva and Charles. 

So today I encourage you to act like it. Live as if it were the love of them that gives you the strength to love and live in these trying times. Lean on one another. Celebrate one another. Like how yall packed out the stands of my brothers Sr night. Or packed this very building for my graduation from college. 

We have to forgive each other. We have to include each other. We have to support each other. We have to hold each others hand. 

Because the only way we get through this is together.  I love yall and I hope you feel it in your bones! 

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