Happy Birthday: An Open Letter to Mrs. Rachel Ellerbee (Flowers)

Rachel Flowers-low res

Rachel Flowers pictured at Messiah Bible School and Missionary Training Home (1916-18)

Dear Rae,

Happy birthday beautiful lady! You would have been 115 years old today. I meant 115 years young! It is strange to say that because I have only known you for three years and the only images I have of you are when you were under the age of 40. I honestly cannot picture you outside of the young sixteen year old girl reading a book for school. On this great day and in your honor, I write you this letter.

You do not know me, but I have been researching you ever since I met you back in 2012. Just from the image alone, I knew you had to be an incredible, fearless woman. After researching you, I realized my intuition was correct. What I did fail to realize was that you would cause me to change my major and have a renewed love of not only history, but black genealogy and ancestry. Because of you, I also took the time to uncover my own family’s roots and realized the importance of knowing where and who you come from. Oddly enough, I know more about your family than I do my own. My mother still complains about to this very day about that.

I learned so much from you.

From you I learned resilience, to always stand on my feet despite the adversities I am facing or if it seems as if I am failing. From you I learned patience, reading how you dealt with your enemies and even your annoying siblings made me laugh. Even though they worked every nerve in your body, you always respected and loved them.
From you I learned to be aware of what is going on in my community, you were aware of the issues plaguing black Americans and would not stand for it.
From you I learned to raise my voice, you were an activist who was sharp, wise, and did not answer to any b****** from anyone.
From you I learned to appreciate my history, your history, and black history.
And for that I say thank you.

I will listen to Mahalia Jackson tonight in your honor and will continue to research your family history until I meet and share with your descendants the Flowers’ legacy.

With love,

Your researcher

P.S. If we ever meet in the afterlife, I have a ton of questions for you. And I hope you understand why I read your private letters. I blame it on Geraldine, it was found in her archive collection.

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