A repairer of the breach

Published 4:33 pm Monday, July 8, 2024

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I again want to thank the many readers for their kind words and encouragement as they read and share what I share in my weekly column. I am so grateful to be able to share the history of the community I grew up in and that nurtured me.

School students have asked when I begin to want share Black history. When I was in fourth grade, I began organizing Black History Month events for the I. B. Turner Library in my community. I have always been fascinated by history and especially the stories told by my ancestors.
I researched diligently those stories of local Black history and now I have many platforms to share it. When asked what is my most gratifying part of sharing this history, I answer, “the revitalization of the interest in Washington’s Black history and the revitalization of the Black Historic District in Washington.”

I have hosted Black History walking tours throughout the Black Historic District since 2010. I have since seen tremendous interest in that district and the revitalization of new homes, civic pride, a great interest in local Black history and neighborhoods.

Long before moving back to Washington in 2013, I had been given a prophetic word that that this is the work I would be assigned to do. That prophetic word comes from Isaiah 58:12 (NKJV) and reads “those from among you shall build the old waste places, you shall raise up the foundation of many generations, and you shall be called the ‘repairer of the breach’, the restorer of streets to dwell in.”

My beloved prayer partners Pastors Daniel and Angie Robertson of the River City Christian Center here in Washington, have prayed with me over the years to accomplish the repairing of the breach in our Washington community. (Pastor Angie and I have sponsored a walkway brick in front of the Historic Turnage with the Scripture reference on it.) It is our prayer that unity in the community includes every person and acre of Washington. And that we grow together as we learn of each other’s history, culture and celebrations. One small way to accomplish this, is to share the history I am part of, and that as one rides though our city, they can see the revitalization throughout our city and its history.

One of my greatest inspirations comes from Patsy Harper Mallison, who wrote the section about ‘Early Black Families of Influence’ in the book Washington on The Pamlico, Worthy and Loy, 1976 for the Beaufort County Bi-Centennial Commission.

There she states, ‘It is further hoped that some scholar of coming generations will take the group of family histories and collate, verify and expand them into a complete history.” She also stated, “there was a paucity of hard data, there are no family Bibles, letters or journals and that the brief biographies were governed by the information in the time available.”

I am so grateful God has allowed me to help fill in that gap and help rebuild the histories of what ‘looked like’ the old waste places, that are now are glowing with revitalization. I am grateful for city leaders, homeowners, neighborhood groups, churches and organizations who are working hard to revitalize our city and making it all it can be. Together we can accomplish great things. Thank you!

Leesa Jones is a Washington native and the co-curator of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum.