African American People of Color Contemporary

Dear future family,

I write this with the hope that this reaches my grandchildren of the future. I’m not sure which one of my children will be your direct line to me, but I would hope when you read this letter both sides of the family can gather together and read it. Maybe you can read it after supper or right after church. You could even read a few scriptures before or after. I know that would make me and Maddie so happy. And if we are gone home to be with the lord by then, we will be dancing in heaven watching y’all read.

I can imagine you have questions, as do I of you. But this is something we can only desire. I can answer one question that may be burning inside. How can I write so good? I know many of us aren’t allowed a good education, but thanks to the good Lord, I was able to teach myself how to write and read. I have been trying hard to tell my children, Penny and Peggy, to get all the education they can with this new school system. The time is challenging since I need them to help me on the farm. But when they can, I send them down to Ms. Cooke to learn how to read and write. And since you are reading this, it must have paid off because they have passed it on to you. My hope is that someday one or two of you go to an actual college and be like good ole Mr. Carver. He has done marvelous things with his farm. And I know if one of you gets an education like that, we can expand and have a wonderful piece of land where this family doesn’t have to depend on anybody.

I wish I could ask you how my Peggy and Penny are when they grow up. I hope the good Lord allows me to see them grow to an amazing age, but if he takes me let it be so. Can I tell you what I hope happens though? I hope Peggy marries a fine young man who comes from a good background. Hopefully, he has his own land when they meet, but if he does not, I hope that he is a hard worker. Then one day, they save enough money to buy a couple of acres to settle down on and start another part of the family. I know my Peggy talks like she doesn’t want any kids now, but I know that will change when she finds a fine young man to cook and clean for. She may not have many kids, but I can see them with about 5 or 6 children. Then for Penny, I hope he grows up big and strong so he can take over the farm from his daddy. He could then go into the city and find a nice young Christian gal like Rachel. Together I could see them having about 10 kids. Then Lord willing, maybe me and mama are still around and we can sit all around the porch while we tell stories and read the Bible. What a time that would be.

And as far as the church, hopefully, the good folks from all over the city continue to come out and y’all are still having a good time praising the lord. It is my hope that my boy takes over after me, and then maybe his son after him. I said I would never pressure him to do that though, but hopefully one of Peggy’s sons take over if Penny don’t. I know the lord is going to bless that church and my family right along with it. 

The last thing I want to say is I encourage you to keep on pressing through the hard times. No matter what may come your way, keep your eyes on heaven and step on. If me and Maddie can, then I know you can too. 

Be blessed, my children,

From Grandpa Earl

P.S. Please thank the post office for starting this time capsule program and keeping this letter long enough for you to read

Dear Grandpa Earl,

It’s amazing that we can communicate this way. I of course wasn’t around to meet you, but reading your letter is just as special. And though I said Grandpa Earl, I guess you are really my Great-grandpa Earl. 

So just a quick intro of me, I am your great-granddaughter, Pearl. Yes! My mom named me after you, which is awesome! Reading this and knowing a little about you makes me so proud to share your name. I don’t know how you found the time to teach yourself to read and write in those days. And reading history, it was just an accomplishment to survive in those days. But you were thriving! I actually did a project on you in the 7th grade just to show people how awesome my great-grandpa Earl was. Oh, and guess what? I am going to college next year, just like you wished. I was going to go to an HBCU to say I was just like George Washington Carver, but I received a scholarship to a big-time D1 for basketball. You probably don’t know what that is, but it is a sport that is a big deal in the future. I will probably still get my masters from an HBCU just to make you proud. Also, I wish you could really see this future. It has a lot of things that you probably don’t get, so I’m not going to attempt to explain it. But just know that technology is almost alien now, lol. 

So I was told I couldn’t tell you everything, but they said highlights were okay. So first thing, I don’t think I said which one of your children I am a descendant of. Peggy was my grandmother. I knew her as Big Mama. She was so amazing to me. She was the reason I fell in love with you. She would sit and tell me stories in her living room. It wasn’t the iron stove like you said, but it was close. Sorry to inform you though, she only had my dad. So I guess she did change her mind on having kids, but not too much. My dad had three kids though, so we are expanding a little, lol. I’m the youngest of those three, and the only girl since Big Mama. Another thing about Big Mama that I think you would be proud of, she created a clothing empire that has pretty much helped our family be set for a very long time. It’s not exactly like the dream you had for the farm, but she was able to purchase a really nice house that we enjoy as a summer house. It’s decked out with some crazy technology. You would be proud. 

And before she left us to be with you, Big Mama did take me back to the spot she grew up at. The house isn’t there anymore sad to say. But luckily, most of the land is occupied by the church so we were able to walk around a bit. They did a really good job with the landscape around there. There is a community garden, picnic tables, and a really big playground. I’m sorry to say I have never been there(My family is a bunch of sinners, lol). Honestly, I had forgotten that was the church you started until I read this. Big Mama I think mentioned it once quickly, but I guess it brought up too many memories. I can say they are doing good though. It’s a megachurch now. I think they have a couple of services and campuses. So you should be proud of that.

To conclude, thank you and Great Grandma for teaching and encouraging your kids to keep pushing on. You passed it to Big Mama. She passed it down to daddy. And he passed it down to my brothers and me. Your legacy is safe and will keep pressing on.

Love you, Grandpa Earl,

From Pearl

PS. I did thank the post office for this awesome program just like you said.

Dear whoever this is,

How dare you impersonate someone from my family. I had believed my letter would be held for safekeeping until the future. But clearly not. You better believe I had a few choice words with the post office before I gave this one to them. They said they would deliver it where they placed the last one, so I know it is the same person reading this. And I bet I know who this is. I bet this is Charlie Joe, isn’t it? I bet it is you because I know you can’t read or right good. And judging by all the made-up and misspelled words, I’m for certain it is you, Charlie Joe. I knew you were no good the first day I laid eyes on you. We tried to pray for you at the church, but I guess you can’t pray for devils. I hope the good Lord brings all his wrath down on your head Charlie Joe. And if he doesn’t, I am not going to lay around like Jonah. I am going to bring my shotgun lay down my own wrath and ask for forgiveness later.

Don’t you ever try something like this again Charlie Joe,

From Earl

Dear Grandpa Earl,

So damn. I guess you want all the smoke with Charlie Joe, lol. But this is really Pearl. The post office really is connecting us together, which is crazy. Just like I said, technology is almost alien now.

Interesting story though, I think Big Mama actually told me a few times about Charlie. He clearly made you mad, but it seems that after you left he did come in and help out Granny Maddie and the kids. He also started helping your church and became pastor. So he made up for it a little bit. But at the same time, Big Mama did mention he tried to marry your wife too. Sooo, you may have a good reason to be pissed off.

I know this wasn’t something you asked, but just to confirm that I am your great granddaughter I will prove it with a few things only Big Mama knew. One, you would always push her on the swing every Sunday, and sometimes Wednesdays after Bible study or after the harvest. She absolutely adored those moments with you. She said she wished you would have done that more. Two, you gave Big Mama and her brother a piece of wood from the plantation where you were born. You told them to never forget where they came from. And to also fight if someone tried to put you back in it. Big Mama had her piece framed and put at the original office. When they moved buildings, Daddy gave it to me to have. I have it hanging in my room. I love it. Thank you. And one more thing that I’m pretty sure you probably didn’t realize even Big Mama, or Peggy, knew was how you stayed at church on late nights because you and Ms Mazel were having a “secret” prayer service. Big Mama knew about it because Grandma Maddie was yelling at you one night and tried to kick you out. But I guess you were a smooth talker and had the magic stick, lol. I’m just kidding. But if you don’t believe me, ask Peggy if she was asleep that night of the argument. She will deny it at first, but if you ask really nicely a second time, she will admit it. I know this because she told me about that night also. 

Love you, Grandpa Earl,


Dear Pearl,

I still write this reluctantly. You are clearly not Charlie Joe, because there is no way he knows about the things you are talking about. And I did ask Peggy. Strangely, it happened the way you said. I do not understand why. Maybe you are an angel, and God is rewarding me with sight into the future, or you are a demon and God is allowing you to test me. But I will play your game for now.

If this is really my great-granddaughter, I have a few more questions. You have told me so much about your Big Mama, my Peggy. I am so proud to hear that her husband created such an amazing business that she is part of. I don’t get why she only had one child, but at least my legacy lives through you and your brothers. You didn’t mention Penny in your letter though. Have your sides grown apart and you don’t know much about him? Or did you just forget to leave him and his kids out.

I am a little torn on what you have said happened to my land. I had wished Penny could have handled it all, but he must have had a good reason to allow the church to take over all the land. Did he at least help out at the church when I went home? 


Grandpa Earl

Dear Grandpa Earl,

I’m not an angel or a demon(I don’t think, lol). I’m just good ole Pearl, your great-granddaughter. And just to clarify, because your daughter has such a legacy and is an inspiration to young women to this day, your daughter was the one who created the empire. She actually never had a husband. She just had many acquaintances. Some men, some women, just whoever she found love in, which I thought was so inspirational. She was definitely a woman ahead of her time. And yes, she did have a son. But he was for sure an accident. The guy slipped up and didn’t wrap it right. But I’m happy he did, because look at me, lol.

As far as Penny, sorry. I really didn’t want to worry you about him. But since we can’t write these letters too much longer, I will let you know. 

So I never had the pleasure to meet Uncle Penny. To be honest, I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed his company much. Big Mama said they used to hang out all the time. But once tragedy hit, they disagreed so much that they kind of fell away. Then when Granny Maddie died, the relationship really shattered. But, Big Mama said she kept up with him in secret just to make sure nothing bad happened. He did take over the farm for a little. Sold a decent amount of crop too. But when the depression hit, he couldn’t keep up. According to Big Mama, she offered to take it over or even buy it from him. But then he tried to burn it just to keep her from it. Luckily, the town had grown to the point of having a decent fire department. He was about to be thrown in jail after, but Charlie stepped in. He had the police back down from pressing charges and even offered to take over the land. 

Then the last conversation Big Mama had with him was during an intervention(meeting if you don’t know what that is). It was Big Mama, Charlie, and this girl he used to date. Big Mama said she didn’t know why the girl was there. She must have thought Penny was rich, which is why she stayed around. But Penny didn’t have a penny, lol. Anyways, they talked to him in that meeting. Offered him a new place, with a new role in the church, and some extra cash that Big Mama could lend. She said he yelled a few cuss words and left the building. And that was the last time she saw or heard of him. Some people said he was killed in World War 2. Some people think that he just drank himself to death. And then there are some people who think he did actually turn his life around, but he just never went back to his hometown. So his final story, to be honest, Grandpa, I don’t know. I wish I did. But I don’t know.

I may have told you too much, so this could be my last letter. If this is my last letter, just know that your legacy is in good hands. And that all of your family loves and cherishes you with all our heart. You inspire me at least to be the best I can be. And I say thank you for that.

Thank you again, Grandpa Earl. You are the greatest.


Dear Pearl,

I apologize for the state of this letter because I know it is soaked with my tears. Please tell me you are making all this up. My heart aches from all these stories you tell of my children. You say my boy has failed and sold all my legacy away. And it sounds like my daughter has gained the whole world and lost her soul. That can’t be their future. There has to be a better way. If this is just a lie or a joke, please tell me. I won’t be mad. And if this isn’t a lie, then I have to fix it. I must fix it. This is going to be a short letter because I have no more words to say

Grandpa Earl

Dear Grandpa Earl,

Big Mama did awesome with her life, so there would be nothing to fix there. But I do wish you could have fixed Uncle Penny’s fate. But you won’t be able to. Because you only have a few more words to say after you read this letter. I am sorry.

Love you, and thank you again,


August 25, 2023 05:14

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