Doctor Mamie McKnight and her daughter, Ginger McKnight-Chavers, shared their journeys during a recent visit to North Texas, while recognizing the history of blacks in Dallas.
“My mother’s family and my dad’s family have been in Texas since slavery, and we’re just really rooted here,” said McKnight-Chavers, who now lives in New York with her mother.
NBC 5 photojournalist Noah Bullard met up with the two while strolling through a Dallas landmark: Freedman’s Cemetery.
“This part of Dallas was probably one of the first areas occupied by African-Americans,” McKnight said.
It’s one of the largest Freedman Cemeteries in the country and McKnight is known for helping establish the memorial.
“It's such a beautiful tribute to the people who lived here and died here,” McKnight said.
The two are honoring the journeys of Dallas’ early black settlers, while also sharing their own journeys.
“I think it’s really important for us to learn about and to know about the past history because it’s the kind of thing that guides us in the future,” McKnight said.
For McKnight-Chavers, her journey took her from a childhood in Oak Cliff to becoming a writer and living in New York.
“Coming from here and the support network I had here and my love of Texas is really what inspires me to write; it’s kind of the metaphor for everything I write about,” McKnight-Chavers said.
After years of work, her debut novel, “In the Heart of Texas,” got published and is award winning.
“It won the 2016 USA Best Book Award for African-American fiction,” McKnight-Chavers said.
“I’m extremely proud of her,” McKnight said.
McKnight-Chavers is now helping her mother write her memoir.
“What inspired her to pursue a Ph.D. at night with a 5-year-old at home? What inspired her to do all of the things that she did, because all of these stories help us today I think,” McKnight-Chavers said.
Two storytellers sharing their life journeys while also honoring those who helped make it possible.
“We have to tell the story to our kids so they will understand where they came from,” McKnight said.
“When you tell your story, people find the universality in all of our stories. It helps people form connections and maybe understand one another better,” McKnight-Chavers said.