Periodically we respond or address issues that surface from our reading. Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape is a recently published work by Mount Holyoke earth science professor Lauret Savoy that merits attention. Her writing is lyrical and thought-provoking. Geographical landscapes and language related to memory and history are her references as she places those living in the present in a broader historical context. Even the meaning of the word used in the title, trace, reinforces the theme: pattern, path, remnant. Employing Savoy’s approach, the reader discovers how miniscule we are in time, how ingrained is the past, and what our potential relevance and responsibilities are in creating the future. Her use of memory as applied to the nation’s history is intriguing, particularly for the MPCPMP’s need to present an alternate or little-known perspective of African American history. Savoy states that since the initiation of European territorial conquest in America there has been a concerted effort to dis-member non-European cultures and societies by war, by occupation, by name, and by appearance; yet, traces remain. She beautifully advocates for a re-membering of these forgotten or unfamiliar places and people. Her scholarship includes examples ranging from the Grand Canyon and mesas in the West to burial grounds and place names in the South.
Trace provides the reader with an opportunity to view this country with another assessment and scale – certainly a more textured ecological and environmental analysis of time and habitation — from the Ice Age, to the present, and into the future. In all the research related to the MPCPMP, we are drawn to that which states that we are directly influenced by the past and that we determine the blueprint of the future – as we breathe. The values and principles we select do affect other people and our physical world in ways that are unknown to us but can be traced by future generations. That boils down to a responsibility to live consciously within a global community.
Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project encourages you to read this book. It may result in a determination to better define self and life goals – to walk a clearer path.