Regina A. Mason: Searching for William E. Grimes


Jimmy Mason is a remarkable woman. She spent fifteen years of a life researching alive for great great. Great Grandfather William Grimes with nothing to go on the connection to the underground railroad. She spent countless hours in libraries reading books. Looking at Michael Film and Census Records Grind was changes. Oh when he was sold away from the arms of grieving mother to a far plantation hair grew up friendless and mother list apparently no surrogate slave family or loved ones to embrace him. No one even to look after him. Grimes was the first person to go through slavery in the South and write about it. This was the first time cousin. Slavery exposed onto the spectrum of one who had lived in and he was the first author to write about the harsh realities of the north. Despite the narrative of his big F- freedom land. Recently in Black America spoke with China rant to produce of Gina's journey the site for William Grimes and Regina e Mason on today's program. We conclude our conversation and so my co-producer contacted his agent his agency and they sent it over and to my astonishment he came back and was like I'll do it and it was more than a reasonable rate and which also made us faint and the next thing I was out in In Hollywood in in Melrose actually at his recording studio and and directing keep David in the booth which was mind blowing to say the least and he was astonished to see you know me and and and you know given my age and done and being an African American male to be directing this film so that that really made him happy when he saw that he just was was really blown away with it but he blessed the project came in. He did the most amazing work on it and it really just elevated genus story and Grind Story to a whole new level so we will be internally thankful to him for that and every once in a while I do have talks with them still. He's just a really good person and I think he's a studier of history. He's very big in the voice over world. He's an Emmy Award Winning Boys Actor. Who's done a ton of Ken? Burns documentaries so he was really into and this is his thing so I think he really enjoyed working on this project and we were better for Ms Mason ominously. This was labor intensive. This is way before Google and everything else. So what gave you that consistent drive to want wanting to complete this project William Grimes himself you know when you read his narrative all that. He endured life to the cruelty the abuse at every turn. He was reminded that he was nothing but he never bought into the status quo. In fact he defied the status quo. Every turn just the fact that he had the notion that he was capable of writing his own story without any assistance from white people speaks to who he was and how self assured he was so his example of perseverance and endurance gave me the will to to just carry on it. And see this per- This project to to the end and I'm speaking of the book project and I do have to say this once. I started digging into this story and realizing that no other scholars and really looked at it. In fact when I went looking for any body of research that was done on William Grimes it was so inaccurate and they were historians to just took liberty to to write about this man having not done any research whatsoever and then I came across the Work of Dr William L. Andrews scholar from UNC UNC Chapel Hill University of North Carolina Chapel Hill extraordinary expert on early African. American autobiography. I came across his book to tell of Free Story and he studies the slave narratives and included in his body of work which is sort of like the scholars Bible. Today he wrote about William Grimes not a whole lot more than I had found those about four pages of work and I needed to make sense of that genre of literature that I really knew nothing about so I reached out to him and he at the time was the only living collar who that who I could talk to and we sort of built a relationship every now and then I would send him information about what I found a William Grimes and he one day wrote me back and he says look the work you've done has to be preserved in some fashion or another then. He approached the idea of partnering to do a book. Because I knew that bill knew that I I wanted to bring this story to light this new scholarship that had never been done before on William grinds and he definitely was the right person because obviously he had studied grimes he had written about grinds and there was really no one else that I could associate myself with and he was the man when it came to early African American autobiography and so we partnered and We developed what we call all. What has been the authoritative edition of the life of William Grimes runaway slave? What was it like your feelings when you you read his narrative and then understood that your great great grandfather was just not an ordinary slave Well I WANNA say this William Grunt was an ordinary man. Who didn't extraordinary thing? I want to move to realize we may not have those narrative is out there. We may not be able to to. We can maybe able to find our ancestors who had been enslaved on In plantation records or slave inventories. And all you see our names sadly those voices we will never know their voice or their humanity because the story doesn't exist so to find this first person account of slavery and by the way we them grams. It's the first person of color to go through slavery in the south. Handle right about it so for the first time we got to hear about southern slavery from the perspective of the Sleigh and not from the slave owner himself so it's a different kind of storing. It's more authentic and true in terms of the experience so to recover this and then associate myself to this narrative. I realize that all of his virtues are inside of me so when you say William Grimes was not the ordinary slave he definitely speaks for those who didn't have a voice and I believe that. None of the slaves bought into the enslaved narrative that was supposed to be their destination and ultimately was their destination or a. Yes. I believe that they all had that will to be free. And and in their own circumstances they asserted whatever power they had in a rebellious way. And so to know though that William Grimes was able to make out of slavery and to tell his story is huge it is it's just incredibly empowering and I realized that again that his virtues existed me and he was my example every step of the way when I wanted to give up when I was faced with all kinds of closed doors I realized that he faced those same and he was told no over and over again but he found a way to get it done and so I I it brings me great. Pride that this enslaved man who never bought into the status quo live within

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