Zora: The Coming of The Sun

"Our Version of Events: A Rooted Black Oral History - Portrait Series"

Arvia WalkerComment
Hold those things that tell your history and protect them. During slavery, who was able to read or write or keep anything? The ability to have somebody to tell your story to is so important. It says: ‘I was here. I may be sold tomorrow. But you know I was here.’
— Maya Angelou


Sunday afternoons sitting at the kitchen table of my grandparent's house, a ritual that my family and many black families have held onto throughout the generations. This is a place where we eat, laugh, cry, and love each other deeply.  What is exchanged over this table is something that can't be bought but it's a spiritual experience that connects us through the generations, the hardships, divorces, babies and all other life events that shape and shift our families.  

One Sunday, sitting at this table getting ready to eat. My Grandfather, Andrew Walker and Grandmother, Carrie Mae Walker had cooked a meal together, and in this meal were greens. I noticed that the greens weren’t our regular collards  or mustard greens but something my grandfather called, "field greens." He went on to tell me a beautiful story on how he and my grandmother picked these greens off of the side of the church every year and brought them home to cook. He learned how to live off of the land from his father when he was a boy living in the south.  This short story shook me, and from then I had a deep craving to sit by the elders in my family and black families to hear our stories and document them. How beautiful it will be to share this moment and story with my children and their children’s children.

Over the last two years, I’ve been on a personal healing journey. It’s been a beautiful, scary, ride filled with learning, stretching, planting and growing. Sitting, listening and documenting the stories of my family has been central to my internal shift towards healing.  With this, Our Version of Events was born.

“Our Version of Events- A Rooted Black Oral History Project,” which seeks to document, archive and uplift the beautiful and rich history of our elders and community. The power of storytelling as an act of resistance is one of the most radical acts that communities who are constantly under attack can participate in.

Inspired by the work of Gordon Parks and personal narratives I have collected from my family, I want to create a space for Black elders to preserve their place as ancestors.

Our Version of Events is a visual and written project centered on documenting the voices of Black family elders through portraits as well as verbal and written testimony. This series asks participants to respond to the prompt, “Tell me a story of your life that you want your great-grandchildren to tell.” The project will include both street art style interviewing and interviews with individuals in their homes.  

For those who are interested in being apart of the project, contact me at thecomingofthesun@gmail.com.

Love and Solidarity,