Honoring Our 

Portrait of a Farmer's Wife,Robert Gwathmey, 1951, 
from Children of Promise: African-American Literature and Art for Young People, Edited by Charles Sullivan.
Honoring Our Ancestors is a picture book by 14 outstanding artists, honoring the ancestors who most influenced their lives.  Some of these ancestors are family members.  Others are ancestors in spirit.  Some are still alive today.  Others lived hundreds of years ago.  ...[They are] important peoplewho usually don't make it into the history books.  They're the heart and soul of who we are as a people. 

-- From Introdution, Honoring Our Ancestors, edited by Harriet Rohmer. 

     Inspired by reading this book, our class decided to honor our ancestors the same way.  We each brought in an "artifact," some object or photo that reminded of us the person we wished to honor, and then wrote about the person.  Here is some of our completed work.

Students drafted these stories on paper, and then typed them out on portable keyboards called Alphasmarts. By pairing up as editors, students were able to perfect their papers to this stage, with a little coaching from their teacher.
I Honor My Auntie

     The ancestor I'm honoring is my auntie Beverly Beaver for teaching me something everyday in life. I know that she was always nice. She never cursed at the kids.  She kept us from getting into trouble when we were bad.  She always cook good meals.  She kept us safe at night.  She let us play with all her purses, cards, and stuffed animals.  She bought me and my cousins barbies to play with when we were bored.  She always took us out to eat or go to the park. She bought us ice cream, took us to the movies,and showed us a good time.  She took us to church on Sunday morning and made us make up the beds.

     She passed away in 1997 and when she died every one was sad and crying because she passed away.  The funeral was at my church called Cannan Christian Covenant Baptist church.  For the second time I got to ride in a limo then when we got there.  There were pink, yellow, and blue flowers.  After the funeral we went across the breeze way to go eat. 

     All that I know is she'll remember me, and I'll remember her because of all the things she taught me.

I Honor My Great Grandma
By Keith

      When I see the picture of my Great Grandma I am very sad that I can't see her today.  Granddaddy and I are thinking of her every night.  I think how she  was a great person.  In my dreams I smell her good perfume. 

      When I come home from school sometimes my cousin is talking about her.   That makes me very mad.  My Granddaddy gets very mad, too.  When he hits her, she starts punching him.  Then I fight my little cousin to get her off of him. 

       When I get home from school I see a picture of my Great Grandma in my room.  I think where would I go when I die but before that happens I would think about myself.  My Great Grandma was very special to me and to my Granddaddy.

I Honor My Sister
by Deandre

     I think about my sister when I am sad.  I dream about her a lot and in my dream I say to her, "I want to see your face," but when I fly to her I try to turn her head around and she says, "Stop."  I had a dream about her funeral.  My cousin was playing with her casket.  She jumped out of the casket and said, "Why did you do that to my casket?"

     It seems like she comes and see me.  I see my sister every night before I go to bed.  I am scared sometimes too but I pray about her, like calling upon her to come see me.  My sister wanted me to do something for her.  She said, "Don't tell nobody."  I forgot what she said.

     When I am bored I say I wish my sister lived so I could see her in person.  My mom sometimes cries about it.  Sometimes I  cry too and my mom and I always think about her.  My mom and I would love to see her face because we haven't seen her in 19 years.  She said she was crying her eyes out at the funeral.  My mom is also mad because it wasn't right for her to die.  She was only two months old.  When I went Louisiana I went to see her grave.

I Honor My Ancestor, My Mom
By Ericka Lopez

     My ancestor that I am honoring is my mom because I like my mom so much.   My mom also is nice to me and my friends.  My friends all like my mom because she is very funny.  My mom is very special to me.  She likes to help me out with mostly everything.   But it's okay.  I like her to help me out with everything.  My mom is a loving person.  I feel lucky because my momís with us.  Some people donít have their mom with them because their mom passed away. 

      My mom likes us to cook together so now I like to cook with her.  We both like the same color.  We also like the same food. 

       I like when it is Christmas because I like to help my mom pick out some of the presents for Christmas.  I help wrapping presents, but I cannot wrap my presents so I donít see them. But I donít care.  I always wrap my momís presents that I buy for her so she does not know what I got for her.

I Honor My Ancestor

By Wah-Loong

     When I hear the wind it reminds me of him. When I feel the wind it reminds me of him. He always wanted to be a doctor when he grew up. He had a blood disorder called ĒHemophiliaĒ.  I got it too. 

     One day he was walking down the street to the store when all of a sudden this car came out of nowhere and ran his leg over! Like 30 minutes after his leg got ran over I saw him on the floor asking for help. So I went home to tell my family what happened.  They all hurried up and picked him up and drove him the hospital. 

     A few weeks later he was all better.  When he came home, everybody said, ĒSurprise!Ē He was scared for a moment, then he said, ĒThank you everybody!Ē 

       Three years later he died from a heart attack.  Everybody was sad because he was a good man and he made everybody happy when they were sad.  He would make everybody laugh when they needed a giggle or more. He is a good man and we loved him very much.

About My Grandfather
By Paige

        When I think about my Grandfather I smell his cologne.  I also smell his food.  I see him playing with Olivia, my sister, and me.  I think about him when he played with Olivia and me, and I wonder how he got sick. 

       My Grandfather was special to me.  The first time I saw him I was surprised because I never knew I had a grandfather.  I was about six years old when I met him.  His name was Willy.

     One year later my grandfather got sick, very sick.  When I heard my grandfather got sick I got worried because I didnít want him to die.  After he went to the doctor, he told me that he had to go to the hospital for a few days.  They needed to figure out what made him sick.

       After he died it wasnít the same.  Everybody wished he was still alive, but we remembered that he was in heaven.  Heís in our heart.  Now that I am nine and my sister is six, we still remember him. 

My Great Grandmother
by Mikayla

        My Great Grandmother's name is Bertha.  She was 54 when she died.   I know a lot about her even though I did not know her.  She was the only girl in her family.  She had four brothers and she had one child, my Grandmother.  She was was married once.  She died of old age.  She was very intelligent even though she never went to school.  She died 38 years ago in 1962. 

        My Grandmother said her mom admired Rosa Parks and that she loved Martin Luther Kind and what he did for his community.  My Grandmother said that my Great Grandmother told her that if she could make everything better she would because things were not going perfect. 

        My Mother said that at my Great Grandmother's funeral everyone cried.  After I heard the story, I did too. 


By Vanessa

     E.J is my cousin and he passed away.  He was very sweet to his family and his mother and brothers.  My Auntie Damina is like his sister.  He passed away in a car crash. 

     When E.J died I was not there to find out what happened.  I was at my Uncleís house down the street.   My Auntie Danielle had to come and get me from standing there, crying by myself.  She told my mother that I had heard about it.  I went in to the house and every body was crying on the couch by the windows.

      Sometimes it is hard to write about what happens to you. I want E.J. to know Iím sorry that happened to you and that I was not there.  I Love you so much and your family do too.

 I Love you E.J.

I Honor My Brothers
By Tosheena

  I feel sad when I think about my older brothers.  I see the spirits when I wonder what theyíre doing in heaven.  I smell their cologne when I inhale.  I taste the home made food that they made.  I hear their voices talking to me that they love me just like they love


      My first brotherís name is Jesse Rahim Hall.  He was special to me because he used to baby me when I cried and he used to hog me from everybody. I love him a lot.  I never got to really see him or my other brother a lot.  My mother and my father told me about them.  My brother Michael Fransico is funny to me.  He always used to show me tricks.  My brother got a tattoo of my brother Jesse and got a tattoo of his friend named Bucket who died.

*  *  *  I LOVED them ALL *  *  *



I Honor My Ancestor

By Tinisha

     E.J is my god Brother.  He was one of my best God brothers.  He used to hang with his cousins and friends.  He will always be in my heart.  I will never forget about him.  He loved me and I loved him and his mom loved him too. 

     E.J.ís  brothers are Michael Neison and Quintin Neison. They are the only brothers he has.

     When he died, his mom was just crying and crying.  She made me cry.   His Auntie Tada was crying and Shadona was too. 

     On the day he passed away, every year his mom has a celebration for him. She has it at the Cherry Pit Park. She has lots of food and games.  I go to this party and it feels good when I go because I be thinking about him.

I Honor My Ancestor, My Daddy 

by Raneisha

     My ancestor is my daddy Rodney .  I love my daddy very, very much.  He died in 1994.  But something I donít know about him is when he was born.  Something else I donít know about him is that he is up to heaven or is down to the devil, but what I think is that heís up to heaven.  I think that because he is a good and honest man.  He was strong, too.  I see him now as an angel shining down on me saying, ďDo right.  Donít do wrong.  Be tough, donít be weak.  Stay in school and get an education, and always love and never hate.Ē

     Sometime at night I can smell his ashes running up my nose and I would have to get up and go in the kitchen and get something  to drink like some milk.  I think that my dad is calling me up there.  I think heís giving me a sign, saying come up, come up here, it is time to go.

     My dad is brave and honest by going to church every day.  He helped a lot of poor people by giving them any kind of change he had in his pocket.  Also he makes me feel good when Iím down by telling me he loves me and he always will.


I Honor My Grandma, Maria Duarte
By Marini 

       My Grandma is about 57 years old.  She speaks Spanish and she has a nice voice.  She smells like Musk Perfume.  She is very nice because she loves me and cares about me.  She cares about the rest of my family members, too. She likes to eat tamales, tacos, chicken soup, beef, rice, banana plantain, wine, cola, and sandwiches.  My grandma likes to cook spicy chicken called mole. 

       My grandmaís kitchen is full with lots of cooking things.  Like chile, tostadas, frijoles, tortillas, arroz con leche, spices, orange juice, fruits and vegetables.   It smells good when she cooks.  When she cooks I feel great and hungry because it smells delicious.  Finally we eat .  Well itís spicy and warm food.

       My grandma is important to me because sheís part of my family and I love her and she cares and loves me.  Sheís very beautiful and sweet. 


* * *


I Honor My Grandma
By  Laura Turner

       My grandma is so sweet to me.  I love my Grandma. We all used to play with each other. We all played jump rope and always went to the park.  My Grandma used to get me everything I want.  She gave me money.  She always wiped away my tears.

       She died when I was nine years old. It was only a year ago. I still am crying. I hear her talking to me and I hear myself crying.  I love my Grandma.

       She was a nice person to me and she is still is.  I love her and she loves me.  I am going to see her one day.  She probably is still pretty, I honor my Grandma.  She was sweet.


I Honor My Uncle
By Vallie

       My Uncle meant a lot to me.  Everyone was sad when he passed away.  I was in kindergarten then.  I was so mad because he was my favorite uncle.  He used to take care of all of us when we were little, almost babies.

       I will never forget all the fun memories we had and all the love we shared for each other.  He always let us stay up all night and watch scary movies and let us have lots of fun.

        My Uncle loved all of his nieces and nephews, but most of all he loved me and my sister.  We were his favorite nieces in the whole wide world.  I love him with all my heart and my sister does too.


Honoring my Ancestor
By Jamie Lam

       I am going to honor my grandmother Hong Thi Ngoc.  She is short [my brother is almost as tall as her] she has curly, gray and white hair mostly, her skin is wrinkled and she is so white she is probably the whitest in the family. She wears jewelry a gold necklace, green wrist bracelet Asian people wear and a ring.  She does not have any teeth. She wears  clothes she sewed herself.  Most of her clothes are any color you can imagine.

       I am honoring my grandmother because I love her.  When she use to live with us, she cooked, washed and cleaned dirty dishes, did laundry. We used to help her hang it up to dry. She also sewed our clothes that had been ripped or had holes in them. She was almost was a full time maid to us.

        But now she lives in San Jose with my aunt and one cousin. Most of my relatives live there.  When she moved I was sad because I felt like I lost her forever and that she did not love the family enough. Or was it because we did not love her enough?  That was probably why she left.

       I still go and visit her and sometimes and sleepover. I think she is the best grandma a kid can have. 

I Honor My Great Grandma
by Aavion

     My great grandma was nice.  I like the smell of her house and the taste of her food.  I miss her so much that I just miss her.  I love the sound when she calls me.  She was good and she died but she will be still the best ancestor I ever had.


I Honor my Great Grandma

By Leona

       I wrote about my great grandma because I was named after her.  My middle name is Anndrella.  She has all of my Dad baby pictures and all my uncles, cousins, and my brothers.  She knows how to make 5 quilts in one hour she is my great grandma and I love her.

       I can see her giving me her old recipe to her souffle.  She always gives me a big welcome home hug.  The way she hugged me I felt like I was in a warm marshmallow house.  I love the way she make me laugh.  She is great person.  I have a big special place in my heart.  She make me feel like Iím in a big warm spot in my heart that make me wiggle inside.

       I remembered when I was very small my great grandma gave me something very special.  It was a little lullaby locket.  It was passed on from my great great great great grandmother to me.  I kept it until it could not be fixed any more.

       I have known my great grandma for all my life.  She taught me to know right from wrong.  She got me on punishment by making me go to the wall and watch it for 30 minutes if I did something wrong.  She made sure I was a good student in class.  when she get me mad she bakes me some home made chocolate chip cookies.  They were warm and soft taste like sweet hot honey.

       She would give me a special gift if I was good in class.  So when I came home from school I saw a little brown puppy.  I said, ďIs this mine?Ē She said, ĒYes.Ē  She asked, ďWhat are you going to call him?Ē I said, ďHis name is Rock.Ē 

       She is my great grandma She loves me and I love her.  She is the person I honor.

I Honor General Tucker
Jamie Kilgore

       My Granddad was a good person to me.  Thatís why I love him and honor him.  One day I think I will die and go to heaven and see him.  Maybe, I might be like him some day.  I really wish I could be like my granddad some day.

       My Granddad always  loved  me and cared  for  me.  My Granddad  was  a general;  thatís  why  the people in my family call him General Tucker.  Thatís my favorite ancestor.  My granddad was a person who fought in World War II.  But he died on the second day of my life. 

        Thatís why I wrote this.  I love my granddaddy so much.  I wish I could see him.  My granddad was the greatest person to me. 






I Honor my cousin Ray
by Darryl

     Iím honoring my cousin Ray.  He is a lot older than me, so when I need things I will go to him since I was four.  So Iím happy heís alive with us today. He has a job. He works at a post office with his brother. They donít live far from my house. Ray is very nice to me and I like to be around him.

The Football Player, My Cousin
By Douglas

        My cousin plays football because he think it is fun to do.  I like it too.  He plays on Sunday and he goes to see games on Saturday with his friend and his cousin, too.  It is so cool.  He like girls and I do too and he likes to eat good food.  He likes cake and hot dogs.  He also likes dogs.  But when he go to play, he talk to me so I know how to play football so I can be cool too.  Thatís why I honor him.

My Great Grandma
By Donald

        I honor my Great Grandma because she is good to me.  She is a good person because she has a lot of friends.  I fell happy when she is around.  She looks happy every day.


About My Grandfather
By Shanika

        My grandfatherís name was Willy.  My grandfather was special to me.  The first time I saw him I was surprised because I never knew I had a grandfather.  I was about 6 years old when I met him.

        One year later my grandfather got sick, very sick.  When I heard my grandpa Willy got sick I got worried because I didnít want him to die.  After he went to the doctor he told me that he had to go to the hospital for a few days.  They had to figure out what made him sick.

        After he died it wasnít the same.  Everybody wished he was still alive but we remembered that he was in heaven.  Also, heís in our heart.  When I turned nine and my sister Olivia turned six, we still remembered him.  When I think about my grandfather I smell his cologne.  I also smell the food that he used to cook.  I see him playing with Olivia and I.  When I think about him when he played with Olive and I, I wonder how he got sick.



I Honor My Grandfather
By Jakar

        My Grandfather was a great man.  He was born in Washington D.C. on September 29,1911.  He was born during a time when there were no computers, TVís, and they just had made cars.  He saw a lot of changes in his lifetime.  My Grandad was very intelligent.  He was in college at the age of 16.  He grew up in a family of educated teachers. 

        As he got older, he decided to join the Army.  He went to the Army at a young age and retired at an older age.  In the Army he was a high ranking N.C.O.  He traveled a lot of different places while being in the Army.  He even traveled to Japan where my auntie was born.

        He and my Grandmother lived in Seaside, California, for approximately 25 years.  He belonged to different organizations, for example, the NAACP and the Affirmative Action Commission.  These were only a few organizations that he belonged to.  He had very strong beliefs that made him a great humanitarian. 

        He was a very warm, friendly, and kind hearted person and I love him very, very much, but my feelings for him are strong.


I Honor My Oma
by Ms. Moore

       Oma means Grandmother in German.  I've never been to Germany, or even been across the ocean to Europe, but that is where my Oma came from.  The story of how our family came across the ocean in the early 1920's is a story that my Grandmother told us many times.  My Great Opa (Grandfather) and his family lived in Russia, just as the Communist revolution was happening, and because my Great Opa was religious and a land owner, the Communists arrested him and took him to be killed.  He escaped, so the story goes, because he prayed and the power of God protected him.  My Oma's family escaped to Germany, narrowly escaping arrest and starvation themselves.  Two of my Oma's brothers died during the trip.  Her family eventually settled in Nebraska in the United States, to farm.  That's why I was born in the nearby state of Kansas. 

       In this class, while we were working on our ancestor papers, my Oma got very ill.  She had congestive heart failure and she almost died.  I stayed with her for a week in ICU, leaving my wonderful students at Sobrante Park, many of whom are pictured on this page.  By some miracle, she survived.  I have since been visiting and helping with her care, but I strongly believe that all the love and support of the kids in classroom 7 helped her survive. 

       I love my Oma very much.  She is like the carrier of history in our family, and I feel very fortunate that we were able to spend another Christmas with her.  My other Grandmother, Grandma Moore, was not as fortunate, and passed away before Christmas this year. 

       My heart is with my Oma.  But I must say, my heart is also with the beautiful children of classroom 7 who I miss very much.  I thank you for all your support and prayers and look forward to seeing you graduate in June. 

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