Research Into African-American Families Shapes 4 Charlotteans

Source: Mark Price / Charlotte Observer

Our histories are not always obvious in our lives. During February, Black History Month, the Observer is exploring stories of Charlotteans who discovered how family legacies echo through them.

Today, we feature four Charlotteans who learned of the debt they owe ancestors. Next Sunday, we’ll explore 1964, a turbulent and eventful year for our nation. And later this month, we’ll tell the story of two Charlotteans – one black, one white – who found that behind their shared surname was a shared history that altered their views of family.

Long Island, N.Y., native Patrick Graham is among Charlotte’s most respected nonprofit leaders, a professor of humanities who serves as CEO of the Urban League of the Central Carolinas and immediate past president of United Way’s Council of Agency Executives.

But talk to Graham, 43, about his past, and you’ll hear tales of pea picking as a boy in the fields of South Carolina, being chased by mules, and his gratitude to a grandfather (Floyd Graham) and great-grandfather (Colombus Graham) who sold moonshine and used the cash to buy a homestead that remains in the family.

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