Painted on a wall in a 35,000 square foot warehouse stands a mural of a black woman with the phrase, “I am my Ancestors Wildest Dream” painted across her shirt. This mural, along with many other visual art murals, are housed in what is now known as the “Studio Be” warehouse in New Orleans thanks to visual artist and New Orleans native, Brandan “BMIKE” Odums.
From his “Studio Be,” launch in early 2016, Odums’ work has continued to gain steam in drawing big name celebrities and media personalities including the likes of Katie Couric and director Ava DuVernay, who showcased the space on the OWN TV show “Queen Sugar.”
Each mural housed within the “Studio Be” space depicts its’ own story of revolutionaries and heroes who became the dream our ancestors dreamt.
Records show that over 12 million Africans were shipped to North America, Caribbean and South America with roughly 10 million actually making it. While we may never know the details of their struggle, one thing we are assured of is that they persevered.
We are living proof.
The paintings that grace the walls of Studio Be is proof.
The stories handed down from generation to generation in our community is proof.
You and I carry the DNA of a man and woman who pushed through.
We are part of a lineage that survived; a royal line that carries on; descendant of descendants that are alive.
Just as we know they pushed through, we also know that there were lineages that died.
There were many that did not make it across the Atlantic. There were bloodlines that were lost and family history that could not be revived. Those that made it across the Atlantic still had to endure the harsh reality and brutality of slave life. Beyond the plantation, the fight to stay alive was met still with Jim Crow laws and obstacles that threatened Blacks livelihood while in pursuit of grabbing hold of self-evident truths that, though written as part of America’s organizing documents, still was not made evident yet.
Fast forward to today, the person that you are and the person I am is in part due to those before us who persevered through. The family we have built, the money we have made, the businesses we have started, the careers launched, the entertainment we partake, the purchasing power garnered is because a brave soul in our lineage made it through the most brutal and horrific attack on man.
Someone in your blood line and mines decided to endure.
Recently, I watched the movie Emancipation starring, Will Smith. It is based on a true story of a man named Peter. “Whipped Peter” as he is called was photographed sitting on a chair with his back bare. The picture captures the scars from many beatings that he endured. The image is staggering. “Emancipation” tells the story of a man literally being hunted after escaping from a work field. His fight for freedom and getting back to his family was a miracle. His survival was a miracle.
Friend, the fact that you and I are here is a miracle.
I want you to remember that when the waves are roaring. I hope you remember that when things get tough. You are part of a lineage that did not die. I implore you to remember that when things are not lining up the way you have hoped. Friend…you are a walking miracle. You are somebody’s dream that had it not been for their tenacity and fight through the hunt you would not be standing, the men and women behind the murals on the walls of Studio BE in New Orleans would not have be known and the stories of those in your lineage would not have been told.
The dictionary defines lineage as the descendants of one individual; bloodline, ancestry, pedigree, stemma, line of descent, parentage, blood, origin, descent, stock, line. When used in a sentence, it writes, "his entire lineage has been warriors."
Friend, you and I carry the mantle of a lineage that survived. Keep your head up!