One evening, in the spring of 1987, unable to carry his burdens any longer, my grandfather walked into a field, sat down under a tree and laid them down.
Withdrawn is an intimate exploration of my soul relationship with this grandfather I never knew. It is the story of race, injustice and the anguish of slavery’s legacy. For the first time in my life, I journeyed down South to step foot on the soil where my ancestors settled after slavery and where my grandfather was born. I wanted to stand in these places, to feel them for myself and imagine how my grandfather may have experienced them. The events that took place here, in Livingston, Texas, led to my grandfather’s lifelong struggle with identity and to his tragic end. The truth about what happened in this small, segregated town was clouded in the kind of mystery and secrecy that protects a white version of history. My hope was that I, the daughter of my ancestors, would piece together the fragmented past, dig through the petrified lies and set the old bones free.
Images courtesy of Juliana Cottrell.