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Another Nance Family Reunion has ended, and as usual, it was a time to reconnect with relatives and celebrate the strength of our family. It’s also an opportunity for me to listen to the conversations of my elders. I’m fascinated by their experiences.

During this reunion, we got a chance to visit the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, N.C. The center is the site of a sit-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter, put on by four North Carolina A&T University students on Feb. 1, 1960. (I highly recommend a visit to this museum. The images are vivid, the information is rich and the experience is unforgettable).

To watch my relatives’ reactions during the tour was interesting, to say the least. It made me realize that history is relative. One person’s history is another’s reality. My youngest cousins had a hard time envisioning a racially segregated society. Meanwhile, the black and white images on the museum walls revived memories for my parents and my cousins who came of age in the Deep South during the 1960s.

And then there was my 91-year-old Uncle Vic, who is one of my grandfather’s younger brothers. He didn’t say too much during the tour, but afterward we chatted. He told me about the cross burning he witnessed in the 1950s as he and his wife were driving from their home in Tuscumbia, Ala., to Columbus, Miss. He told me about being harassed on a Greyhound bus and the KKK headquarters in Tuscumbia.

“They used to hand out literature, the brochures, on the street,” he recalled. “One time they even gave me one.”

A collage of the front of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, N.C.

A collage of the front of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, N.C.

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