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Man who was stunned after discovering his ancestral truth now shares stories of people who were enslaved

A man's casual inquiry about his ancestors turns into a lifelong quest to uncover the stories of enslaved African Americans.

Man who was stunned after discovering his ancestral truth now shares stories of people who were enslaved
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Alex Breanne Corporation

We are currently going through Black History Month, where people in the United States and a few other countries look back at the achievements of African Americans to celebrate them. Just like most people going through their life, John Mills (@runliftandlive) did not think too much about the origins of his surname. Over time, he got curious and decided to do some research about his ancestors when he was in his 20s, which changed his life forever, as reported by The Washington Post. The truth was that many of his ancestors happened to be slaves.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Kindel Media
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Kindel Media


 

He soon learned that the name "Mills" was adopted by his great-great-grandfather, Ned Mills. The surname was given to him by the man who enslaved him. This discovery piqued his interest and he decided to go further down the rabbit hole, managing to find the burial place of many of his ancestors, including that of his great-great-grandfather, Ned Mills. He spoke about visiting the graves of his ancestors, saying, "It was an emotional experience as I walked past this pristine, well-kept cemetery."


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by John Mills (@runliftandlive)


 

Mills highlighted how he was born solely because his ancestors had managed to survive all the terrible hardships of being a slave. He became quite proud of his ancestors who went their whole lives without getting any liberation. Mills and his sister made use of old family documents and historical societies to know more about their ancestor, Ned Mills and found that he spent his childhood on a plantation in Georgia in the 1830s. Ned continued to be a slave till June 19, 1865, which was when the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas and proclaimed that all African American slaves in the state would be free.



 

Ned continued his life working as a farmer and blacksmith, dying soon after. Ned and many other ancestors of Mill's ancestors were buried behind what used to be a Whites-only cemetery, signifying how they were racially discriminated against even in death. All of this information prompted Mills to take a deeper dive into African American history to understand the past better. The man currently works as a software architect and managed to create a nonprofit organization called the Alex Breanne Corporation to support his research projects.


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by John Mills (@runliftandlive)


 

He has become quite devoted to his research, taking a course in Genealogy at Boston University to improve his skills. Mills wisely uses the information he gains about African American slaves to share amongst their descendants as well as create memorials for them. Out of the many prominent figures who got sidelined by history, Mills found out was William Cooper, who was his third great-grandfather on his mother's side. Cooper had been in the Navy and played a pivotal role when USS Wyalusing took possession of Fort Williams from the Confederacy.


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by John Mills (@runliftandlive)


 

He passed away in 1909 and like many other African Americans, was buried in a separate graveyard in Baltimore. What made the situation worse was when it was paved over and a Belair-Eduson Crossing Shopping Center was constructed on top of it. Mills shared, "It's estimated that some 30,000 remains exist under that parking lot." He plans to purchase a plot in Loudon Park National Cemetery in the same locality and dedicate a memorial stone to William Cooper. Mills' efforts are really noble and showcase how one person can create a significant impact in showcasing the forgotten stories of African Americans over the years.

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