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Ann Eskridge
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My Philosophy

 

Those who came before me...

 

http://www.anneskridge.com/mediac/450_0/media/Momma$20as$20a$20teenager.JPGMy mother was born in 1921, one year after women got the vote. My mother had two years of college and worked until she was in her thirties. She stopped working to raise my two younger brothers and went back to work in her early 50’s after my father retired, “So we have some money.” She worked as an office clerk in a Southside Chicago elementary school.

Her mother worked until she was 75 years old. Born in 1895 in Abbeville, South Carolina, Emma Jones came to Chicago in the 1920’s and brought my mother with her. Emma worked as a laundress, and in her later years cleaned houses for women who were younger than she. Her mother, my great-grandmother, had seventeen children and ran a farm. And quite possibly my great-great grandmother was a slave.

http://www.anneskridge.com/mediac/450_0/media/Dad$27s$20grandmother.jpgThese are my women ancestors whose shoulders I use as my solid foundation. Each generation has built on the previous one. Had these women had the money or the time, would they have pursued a more creative existence? I don’t know. Their world was different than ours. But their strength and perseverance allowed me the opportunity to pursue writing.

 

My father lived in a time when teaching was one of the few professions college educated black men could enter.  Even though he graduated from the School of Commerce at Northwestern University and could have worked on the Chicago Stock Exchange, there were no jobs open to him. And despite all the obstacles in being a black teacher in a segregated school system in the 50’s in Chicago, he cared about his students. He worked at Gladstone Elementary on Chicago's Westside until he retired in the early 70's.

 

They are gone now... but not forgotten.

 

http://www.anneskridge.com/mediac/450_0/media/Mom$20and$20Dad.jpgMy writing honors my parents and grandparents, all those who came before me. It took me awhile before I understood that I worship the ancestors. I call it ancestor literature. In some form or other my writing pays homage to the ancestors. I try to re-imagine history, praising ancestor survival stories. My stories are about people who change the direction of their lives regardless of their circumstances. They are about the ancestors who created their lives of whole cloth from cotton threads.  Author Toni Morrison once wrote that black literature is distinguished by the presence or absence of an ancestor.