Growing up in an entirely Hispanic (90%) and Afro American (10%) community (barrio), my world was very one sided. My world opened up as my education grew. In high school, I was introduced to stories I never knew existed. As a college student, I became enlightened with the untold stories. I was fortunate enough to be blessed with educators that taught history of people with color. Never was I taught these things in my earlier years. My passion for learning would carry into my later years. As I went into the educational profession, I knew I would share the untold stories with my students to enlighten their world.
My grandmother’s home always had family pictures. The pictures were from studios that focused on capturing the best pose. My mom seemed to always have a camera in hand. During my childhood, I loved spending hours going through family albums. I would wonder, “Who are these people? How are they related to us?” As time moved on, the camera styles changed and so did the cameras my mom possessed. I didn’t think that all these pictures would benefit me in later years.
Our family was pretty small compared to many others in my community. We were from a close knit, church attending, strict environment. Our extended family was from far away Tempe and Mesa (the freeways extending into the East Valley had not been built). Occasionally during holidays, we would visit with people related to my grandmother. The puzzle pieces seemed to fall into place as to how we were related. In my mind, there were still many unanswered questions. From time to time, my Great Aunt from Hermosio would visit. I was captivated with her stories and would yearn for more. My grandmother had never shared these! As a matter of fact, she would hush up as my grandmother approached. I knew it was probably something my grandmother would not approve of. As I grew older, there were still some missing puzzle pieces. Time would help fill these in with the aid of technology and a little detective work.
I’m not sure how, but I have had the fortune of being the legacy keeper of photos and articles from my mom, school, and church. I am still captivated by the untold story of family and history. Luckily, I am blessed with good recall with names, places, and events. Although this may not be the case in years to come, I continue to dig. Several years ago, I saw an event being presented at A.S.U. on Hispanic Archives. My ears perked at the thought of piecing my stories together. My cousin had begun research a bit of our genealogy. I too wanted to aid in this endeavor. I was excited to attend and learn the best way to dig deeper. Unfortunately, I also learned I had made some mistakes along the way. The way I had preserved some artifacts wasn’t the best. As I continue to dig, I realize I may not find everything, but the untold story is becoming more visible.