Edna Sheridan and Kiplyn Primus

Recorded August 25, 2019 Archived October 19, 2019 41:45 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: atd002030


Kiplyn Primus (57) has a conversation with a fellow pilgrim, Edna Sheridan (70), during their Year of Return Jamestown to Jamestown trip to Ghana in August, 2019. The women also talk about Edna's hometown of Huntsville, Alabama.


  • Edna Sheridan
  • Kiplyn Primus

Recording Location

Golden Tulip Kumasi City Hotel

Venue / Recording Kit



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00:04 My name is kiplyn Primus. I'm 57 years old. Today is Sunday, August 25th. We are in Kumasi Ghana and I am talking with Miss Edna Sheridan who is one of the pilgrims here for the year of return to Ghana.

00:27 My name is Edna Sheridan. I am 70 years old. Today's date is August 25th, 2019. We are here in Kumasi Ghana.

00:44 On a pretty Pearl Jam

00:47 I didn't say.

00:48 We are Partners in our trip to Donna.

00:55 Show me Sheraton. Thank you so much for agreeing to talk with me this afternoon cuz this is what a world wind trip. We've been very busy. So I do appreciate your taking the time, but could you tell me why you decided to come to Ghana on this trip?

01:14 That's a very good question. Kiplyn. Very good question. I tell you Donna has been one of the places that I have wanted to go to visits for the last 15 or 20 years.

01:29 About 15 years ago. I had an opportunity to come and I turned it down. So what I saw this announcement that said n-double-acp in partnership with some of the group I had to come there was not an option. I had to be here for this time. So it's it was a desire for me to come to Ghana always has been and I'm just having a blast.

02:00 So when we first got here into Ghana we went by Jubilee house and went to the tourist board. But that evening. We went to James Town a car with a called in old ekron and we were welcomed by the Chiefs and the president of Ghana. Can you just share a little bit about that experience what you felt and what you thought about the way that they welcomed us.

02:33 The black comedian was his absolutely stunning way more than I think I expected but they greeted us with open arms as if if we belong here with him and we do a course but they greeted us if if we were already a member of their family, so that's felt like I belonged it made me feel as if I belong and so the welcome then I tell you another a very high light for me when I saw all the chief in all the Elder ladies in their attire. I just wanted to be one of them so bad. I really did and doing the greeting greeting the the king of the limb of it. That was an experience that I'll remember forever because I when I shook his hand

03:33 I felt like maybe it was my father from many many years ago that goes Dad when I was just 14 of 13 you 13 or 14 years old, but that experience for me. I don't even think I can truly give a good description of it, but I can say that is etched in my mind for the rest of my life. Now. Did you notice that the the Chiefs and the elders were dressed in white and it kind of reminded me of Sunday church because the ladies in the church, you know that I grew up in the Baptist Church. The elders were always dressed in white. What did you think about that?

04:20 I thought the wider tire was two things for me. It was it was Purity for me that I'm in this country my homeland where they've taken me from but yet I'm here and seeing all this amazing and the white just brought back to me what it was like when I was growing up.

04:52 Because my mother my grandmother they all set.

04:57 In a corner on the front row at the church at Beaver Dam Primitive Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama and all of the older ladies that elevated the wiser ladies in their white and that means something to me because today I carry that same tradition. I set there today in my white on that front seat. And so to see them I felt vow some of the same practices that we do they were already doing them and it's just amazing. It's just

05:40 I feel at home. I really do. I feel like I'm right where I supposed to be at the right time. I think that this moment in my life this moment in time for me was for me to be right here to experience this to experience these great traditions, and I now have a true respect not that I didn't have but now I can really share the story with my two-year-old great-granddaughter my children grew up with my basic knowledge of the African World of the African some of the African tradition, but now I have my two-year-old great-granddaughter and she has not experienced any of this.

06:41 So now I have all of this that I can share and maybe hopefully she can pass some of his down. So I am just I'm so thankful to God that I was able to come and now we've been in Africa for number days almost a week now almost a week and

07:03 What was your perception before you got here and how has your perception about the country of Ghana and the continent of Africa? How has it changed?

07:15 Well, I cannot truly say that it has changed for me because I've always had this great desire to be here. I've gone to several other African countries and I just had made it to Ghana but I have a gun in friend that I went to college and he had always told me his his father was a chief and so I and I always try to learn and Dick press his praying. So I have happy African clothing from Ghana for many many years because of our relationship. So the only thing that I can really say that may have added to my impression was the friendliness of the people that welcoming of the people cuz since I had never said ground,

08:13 In this part of Africa, I wasn't sure because I've been to South Africa for the 8th of Ethiopia and several other places each one of those places share the same kind of welcoming for me at but I had not experienced what it was like here. So if I had one thing to say that solidifies why I believe I belong here it would be the fact that they are so welcome in the people hear my sisters and brothers my father my ancestors. They are just as great as you know, they say down-home Southern Charm. They've got it cuz I'm from 7. I'm from Alabama South and so we have a lot of stuff a job. Thank you. Now. Did you go to the business Summit or do any other tours when we were in a car? And is there anything about those experiences that you want to share?

09:15 Actually, I didn't do the business Summit. I did do the tour to the cocoa Farm. I went to that one in the Botanical Garden. I am going on the city tour when we go back the cocoa Farm. I learned so much the cocoa Farm, you know, actually I never knew what a Coco look look really look like I'm just being honest, but when I saw the green to the yellow

09:50 I was just simply amazed and I was sitting there saying so how do I get the chocolate because I've always seen you know, the chocolate cocoa is chocolate what I see it in the United States. So it was simply amazing that now I know how the Coco is grown now I'm at cuz my grandchildren love hot chocolate I can tell them that the outside of the hot chocolate cocoa is yellow before they are processing and do everything. So that was amazing to me and in the botanical gardens. There was just such the treezy just eat all of those old treason.

10:36 You probably don't know this but I love old trees. I always have and I do not answer when I saw some of those it was a breathtaking. That's what I have to say. And now did you attend the dinner at the action Chapel? So what did you think of that dinner? Because honest it was as if we were royalty. It was like a state dinner for our whole group. You know, I was thinking have I ever been to a really A bash like this and and of course I had to say, yes, but I have never been to one with my African counterparts and can they put on a show?

11:31 Oh, I felt like again I'm supposed to be here because they laid it out in Grand style and then to top it off. I remember they gave us the Coco bar the chocolate. I've never faced cocoa that taste that good. So it was Jazz. Oh, I was like, oh they can party they can jam they can do it with the big time or so, they are the big timers for me here in this country. So I guess it was just amazing all the colors that they had on and then remember they did the modeling with some of the ladies doing their tire. That was few other man. Did I really get to Paris on that Runway or simply am I in Ghana on the having the runway and it was amazing. I love it.

12:30 It was that was a wonderful experience in very unexpected. So when we left a car

12:40 We went to Cape Coast.

12:43 And we had dinner on the lunch on the Atlantic Ocean. Tell me what you thought when you you saw those views from that restaurant of the Atlantic.

12:55 Actually, I did not make it out there for the dinner the view for the lake or the water was beautiful because I did see that but I can't truly say that sitting there eating and looking at it I experienced but I will tell you this that just realized and that just out there that like the fisherman's come from far and between with in Ghana and they bill and and restore their family and their economy by fishing there. So I thought that was just superb because I remember as a child my father and my grandfather would go catch fish and so we but nothing like this.

13:53 We had a small pond somewhere or something like that. But to see the massiveness of the water and the types of boats or canoes or whatever that they use to do their work to can't beat it. You can't ask for anything more.

14:14 And so when we we left lunch, we went to the cape Coast dungeons. But before we actually went in we were greeted by the chief of the area and they gave us the reefs of the Ninja. What did you think about that experience?

14:36 Again, I'm Still In Awe by the time I get there. I'm just saying but the experience at the dungeon.

14:48 It was somewhat painful for me.

14:52 I grew up in an area where there was Jim Crow. There was there was much abuse to our people in America.

15:03 But when I saw the dungeons that are sisters and brothers in for parents.

15:09 Had to survive or not survive had to do whatever it took.

15:16 To live or to die

15:19 They did it.

15:21 And it brought back so much pain for me because I have lived through segregation. I grew up in what we had all black schools. So for me to see the pain that they suffered and to realize today.

15:43 That we still have pain and suffering. But what can I do for my people here so that this never happens again?

15:53 It was a sad moment, but it was a good moment.

15:59 To really almost be able to visualize the impact that it had on those that were there those that were taking advantage of because of the simply because of the color of their skins and because they were Africans

16:20 So that experience for me.

16:25 I needed it. I wanted it.

16:29 And

16:31 It has helped me to understand the complete Jamestown to Jamestown in terms of how horrible a life.

16:46 Our ancestors lived through that those that live to talk about it or those that you didn't live whatever they were able to do.

16:58 Then do it with dignity.

17:02 They didn't do it at the best they could with what they had and what they had was literally nothing because

17:11 The white folks or somebody else had taken it from them.

17:15 For that for that. And so for me Kipling that experience at the dungeon that part of it was so revealing.

17:30 So painful, but yet it gives me the charge that says I've got to do more. I've got to do more to help my country the country that I should be living in.

17:47 And the door of no return.

17:53 I had very mixed emotions, but when we walked out of that door and realize that on the other side, it had been renamed the door of return and I was returning what was that like for you?

18:15 The door return returning now.

18:23 It was softening to some respect. It was softening it kind of gentle the effect that going out and now as a people.

18:34 We can come back to our native land and not necessarily indoor.

18:43 What is ancestors into her so the door return I believe for me both are equally important because if I don't know where my Ancestor Square then my coming here would have left this insignificant. So now coming back the door return coming back home.

19:08 Oh, it makes me want to stay to some extent and but I know I've got to go home.

19:18 I cuz I have a life to hear but I'll be back. I'll be back through that door.

19:27 And then yesterday was a little bit different. We were in a scene mon song for the last bath.

19:38 The place that

19:40 Our ancestors were giving a little bit of a reprieve they could bathe they were fed.

19:49 Basically being pumped up for the auction block, but you know, it was a slight reprieve and we actually walked in the path that they walked in and I got in the river that they they pay then and it you know, the the spontaneous singing of the of the black national anthem. We shall overcome it. That was that was more emotional for me than the dungeons. But what was that experience for you? Oh, I'm so glad you frame that that way because I am a golden life member of NAACP

20:34 And I remember when this is back in the day I say back in the day in the 80s the 90s 70s when NAACP we've been around for a long time, but

20:50 I remember when I was very active in NAACP at a branch at home.

20:59 And I remember that the programs that we would have that focused on us as a race focus on bringing others into the fold when they sang that song.

21:15 About we shall overcome.

21:21 It reminded me so much of how far we have come but yet we have so much more to do.

21:33 So

21:34 It was it was the feeling I had was intrinsic and nation and nature and yet so warming in the heart because it brought about a sadness but then it brought about greatness. Juvly because now we know that we we can sing the song but let me share another part with you when they were walking through the water.

22:05 You were walking through the water and they saying another song on the old Wade In The Water. I grew up on Wade In The Water and I grew up when we had the old.

22:22 Water Creeks we call them creeks and we were baptized in these things. So when they were singing and I remember at Beaver Dam Primitive Baptist Church, when we will go down to the water they were singing the song Wade In The Water and we were going down tired and I white dresses a white dresses accepting the word accepting the love of Jesus Christ so that we could have freedom and that freedom was a different kind of freedom, but it was freedom from everything that we endure cuz when you give your life over to God, it's Freedom here.

23:12 They were puffing I'm up as to say pick him up to take him down.

23:19 They did it they in do it those that did and it was just so emotional for me for the songs. And you know, I even at the last prayer.

23:36 When they at the ministry, I think he was a minister was doing the prayer when he brought in all the ethnic groups in within his prayer when he talked about every seeing that we all experienced some of it about bringing us all into the phone. That's all that even God wants us to do is to come together as a unit live love work do the things we can to help each other. I will share this with you. What are the things I miss most about growing up that I saw here and you may we're going to get this to this but I I really appreciated the family unit.

24:21 We had it when I was growing up. But as you know, now we have may have a brother in New York. We have somebody in Michigan we have somebody in Alabama. We got somebody in Oklahoma this I still appreciate the family unit and they had it here. They all stay together. No matter where their circumstances are. So therefore they can live and help each other and bring and keep that unity and pass it down. We lost it in America some families. We've lost it, but it's just so amazing to me and I wish we could bring it all back home.

25:06 And now we're in Kumasi. We left and came up to kamasi one of the Richer areas where the Ashanti live had you any thoughts about kamasi.

25:19 No, to be honest, the only thing I knew about kamasi I've learned so much. The only thing I knew was that my girlfriend. She's jamaican-born. She's an American citizen now.

25:35 She when she came to Ghana about 15 years ago.

25:41 She came to Kumasi to and so when I was sharing this with her, she told me you have got to go to kamasi. She talked about the ishan. I did not know.

25:56 How beautiful this place is and yet how rich they were not just in history but in economics but in everything and gold I didn't know any of that. So I have learned so much about kamasi and I would like to visit here to again when I come back.

26:22 The home

26:24 I didn't know did you go to Jamestown, Virginia? I didn't remember seeing you, but

26:32 When when you go back, what is the thing that you're going to share about this trip? If you could only share one thing about this trip with your you do friends and family. What is that thing that you're going to share with them?

26:53 Kiplyn, I think the one thing if I could only do one.

27:00 I would share.

27:02 That we need

27:05 To appreciate a routes.

27:09 I would share that we need to appreciate our routes and if at any point in your life that you have an opportunity to see how I ancestors and how are sisters and brothers a living. I would ask you just to take this one Journey even if it's not for 10 days, but come here and see how we are and how great and wonderful. The people are that are people are just beautiful people that they are rich in spirit. They are rich in Heritage. They are rich in ancestry.

27:55 Ask again, they're rich and economics. So that would be my thing.

28:00 And now I just want to hear a little bit about you. You're from Huntsville, Alabama. If you could share what you remember about your grandparents, if you could tell us their names and what you remember about growing up with them.

28:16 Yes.

28:18 My mother's family.

28:22 Wordful words

28:24 My grandmother

28:26 Mrs. Pearl for it and I have her name is my middle name.

28:34 My father was Jimmy Force.

28:37 And his clan was of nine nine brothers.

28:44 My grandparents had two children my mother and her brother.

28:49 And we spend a lot of time with my grandparents by the time I came along we were in the City of Huntsville.

29:01 But I spent a lot of time at the farm.

29:05 Dad, my grandparents had a cotton Farm. They had we grew up with Plums and all types of berries running up in the Mayflower. Do you remember the Mayflower? So I lived and enjoyed my grandparents my my father. My grandfather was a very tall man very tall and my grandmother was probably the only four feet nine and what being around them there was so much strength.

29:45 I remember as a child because they would pick cotton. That's was the living to pick tightening sellador do however to make a living.

29:57 And and of course they were working on a white man's farm, so they had to pick so much to make so many dollars but growing up being around them.

30:08 It helped me to be who I am today. I share with most people that I come from a long line of very strong black women that includes my mother and my grandmother and her Grant and her mother which was missus had a Ford had it have front what's her name? And so they gave me strength. We didn't have anything we were poor we'd have anything but every day we had food on the table cuz guess what there was chickens in the yard.

30:45 They go out and ring a chicken fried up clean it up and we had a good meal on Sunday always had on Sunday. It was always rice and chicken through the week. We've had all these great with vegetables and because you go out and get them out of the garden so living and thinking about my grandparents it brings joy to me because I know that I wouldn't be who I am today. If I couldn't look back and say oh, oh my grandmother helped me understand this and I'll tell you something when

31:24 You would know stranger if you came to their home and they didn't have much we lived my grandparents when I lived with them or go out to visit. They had one two, three rooms in the back room with the kitchen.

31:41 And of course rdr2 to use the facility, we went outside and and soul and then there was this one room that has the the old black stove and that's how we kept warm and there were too bad so I never will forget it but there was too bad so twin bed will you know for the day for the morning times in a bed like this one possibly a full bed or something and then in the other room was the older type furniture that they had made or somebody had made or somebody had given to him not to be it.

32:19 My grandmother and I slept in the twin bed. My grandfather has slept in the big bed. My mother slept in the other room that why I don't know why she get the room all by herself.

32:37 But she did so growing up with them and I tell you my mother my grandmother. They were just strong women my father on my father's side. I did not know my grandparents on my father's side my back because by the time I came along they were both deceased. My father is flat Cherokee Indian and he would tell stories about his mother being this beautiful black woman with all these long hair so I can share that with you. But I've had a I wouldn't give anything for it and tell me a little bit about those segregated schools because

33:23 It almost seems as if it was a little bit better or at least the education was was more thoughtful in those same fate. It's cold. You have hit one of my wonderful topics and I love this.

33:38 I experienced segregation. I shared that with you and I went to an all-black school and I tell you I loved it. I tell you.

33:47 The teachers I had and I are named the ones that stand out in my mind because they are the reason I'm here today.

33:56 There was mrs. Lacy.

33:59 Mrs. Lacy. Mrs. Stars Lacy.

34:04 She taught language English, whatever those terms were back in the day.

34:09 And not only did she live just around the block from me and the school was around the other block.

34:18 Being in school

34:21 An all-black school people that look like me.

34:25 Teachers that look like me and teachers that loved me and if they saw a quality in you, they would pull that quality out not like today. They would reach and grab that quality. Mrs. Lacy and there was another one her name was Edna Matthews the same as mine.

34:52 They mrs. Lacy taught me to be a lady in a Cess, but also taught me that I could write that I could I could do whatever it is. I wanted to do and even let me see just how crazy it was. Do you think a teacher is going to take you home with her you today in school today?

35:17 In the afternoons

35:20 I would go to her house and we would sit there and go over the lessons or talk about play the piano or just do nothing but just talk. I'm a little girl. She's a little grown lady, you know, and so schooling for our children in my opinion or so much better and in and I say it was better because you had people that cared and I'm not saying all of the teachers don't care today because my daughter is an educator. So we do have some teachers that care on both sides of the aisle, but I can assure you that we are not getting the same kind of attention that we got their number one back in the school. Then there was not 32 students to one teacher.

36:16 Today that's 2725 students to one teacher. You cannot give one child your undivided attention, but in school when I went to school.

36:28 If I struggle my teacher was there and she was not going to let me fail and if she saw that I was messing around not doing the right thing. She go tell my mother.

36:41 And then you had a different set of consequences because now not only do I have my teacher upset. She's brought it home to my mother and my father now I got three adults.

36:55 Hounding me maybe even spanking me because I'm not doing right. So you had all of that. That's why even today. I really wish we had still had black schools all lights, cuz I really do think that we understand our children better. I think that we can give our children what they need. I got saying they don't always get it. I'm just simply saying that in our society today the struggle is still there and when they loved us in a school system and you're hiring superintendents has never even been in the school system that head up your skull we got challenges.

37:43 So my black school, I would give nothing for it. I would give nothing and I wish my children could have experienced it because neither one of my children experience going to a black school. They all went to a they all went to buy time. We had segregated not integrated. I'm sorry. I saw a lady a couple years ago and she had on a t-shirt that said I survived integration and I just thought that was profound and now even though you went to that all black School in Alabama you went to college. Was that something that was assumed?

38:25 Cuz a lot of people think you know, we'd it weren't going to college in those days. But we've been going to college for a long time. You know, I'm so proud to say that I was the first pay per person in my immediate family to go to college in my immediate family.

38:47 That it was not it was understood that I was going to do something with my life that I wasn't going to be one of those as don't have a focus. So but by time it came along

39:02 I knew that I had to do something for myself to help me and my family my mother and my grandparents and all of them because by then they had taken all of the land from the blacks. So now my grandparents had migrated into the city.

39:23 And they had a house them in project. So what have you so I had to do something and I felt that it was up to me to make a difference to make an impact. And so I went to a course of historically black University, Alabama A&M university is my alma mater and I'm proud to say that I obtain a BS degree and a it an MBA from Alabama A&M University.

39:55 And Soul II I like that portion and I knew I had to do it but then to I knew that wasn't enough, you know, because now we have to be three four times we used to say twice better is twice as no longer because guess what in the eighties in the night and they paid for

40:22 The opposite side of y'all to go to school we had to come in order to get a decent job. So we had to come so I

40:35 I continue to go to school while I consider myself a lifelong learner today. I am working on a doctorate in Ministry. So schooling for me and my children all the all the way down there they have to go is understood with them. But for me now I'm doing it because it's what I've always wanted to do.

40:59 Resetting Sheridan. I just want to thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me and to share your experience here in Ghana and also a little bit about your life.

41:10 Thank you for having me. I'm so grateful that you offered me this opportunity and I hope I didn't get too passionate for you because I do some things. I am very passionate about and those things include our our children. Our family is education. They're very old-fashioned when it comes to those things and I'm also passionate about my ancestors. Thank you very much.