When Beverly Scarlett found a strange photo in her mother’s attic before going to college, she had no idea this picture would become the front cover of her book almost 40 years later.
Scarlett recently released “The Harris Family of Orange County, North Carolina,” which chronicles the history of a Black Indigenous North Carolina family as they continue to triumph through centuries of oppression.
“I took the photo from the attic down to my mother, and I said, ‘Who is this person?’ and she chastised me, because she was my great-grandmother,” Scarlett said. “From that came my journey to find my true identity.”
At her Feb. 13 book reading hosted by Friends of Russell Rosenwald School, Scarlett spoke about her family’s history, as well as the treatment of Black Indigenous people in the United States.
“My book is for anyone interested in local or Native American history, and anyone who’s heard that they have Native American history but are told there’s no such thing as Indian people with Black skin,” Scarlett said.
Scarlett's book focuses on memories of her family.
“It’s my mother’s story that I researched and put in book form,” Scarlett said.
She also spoke about her ancestor, Frank Harris, who was a painter at the University and was tried and convicted for purchasing wool from an enslaved individual.
“One of the things I’ve found is that while slaves were more often punished with public whippings, freed people of color were given high fines or told to leave the county, and that’s cruel and unusual in my opinion,” Scarlett said.