Legacy: By Dennis Richmond, Jr.

In 1909 a young black couple got married in New York.  The groom was a handsome young laborer who cleaned chimneys named John Sherman Merritt. The bride, was a beautiful young waitress named Lelia Bell Robinson. The two were deeply in love and later that year, had a baby boy. John told Lelia that she no longer had to work and Lelia began staying home to take care of their son. As time went on, the couple had another child. John picked up a second job as a house cleaner. When the couple had a third child, John began working a third job. By the time of their fourth child, it was the same deal.

By 1918, the couple had four beautiful children and John was working four jobs. He worked as a chimney sweep, a painter, a housekeeper, and a janitor. He became a land owner in his early twenties, knew how to ride a horse, and he and his wife were members of an A.M.E church in Connecticut. Unfortunately, by October 1920, John was diagnosed with sarcoma. His wife told him to slow down, but he didn’t want to. He had four children and a wife. After nine months of suffering with sarcoma, John died of exhaustion. He was 31 years old.

John Sherman Merritt is just one of many of ancestors who worked extremely hard. My great grandmother Rosalee Bowens Dingle worked hard in a tobacco factory and picking cotton in the fields in South Carolina. My 3rd great grandmother Mary Robinson Coles washed and ironed clothes in Virginia. To me, this is what it means to be apart of a legacy. To know who you are and to know who made you is as legacy as it gets. My family, just like millions of other black families, is filled with strong, intelligent, hard-working individuals.

My job, is to keep the legacy going.