Descendant of slave, slave owner forge friendship with a message
Posted September 4, 2015
Rocky Mount, N.C. — Gladys Robinson longed to know more about where she came from.
She starting looking into her family history and learned that her great-great-grandmother, Mariah Bunn Speight, was a maid at Stonewall Manor Plantation, which was built in Rocky Mount in the 1830s.
“When you know from whence you came, you almost know where you’re going,” she said. “I don’t think a family reunion should be just where you get together and eat and drink and things of that nature.”
That's why she's bringing in family from all over to stand in Stonewall's shadows.
Stonewall was a working plantation for a decade – 1,000 acres of longleaf pine harvested for turpentine and pitch. When owner Bennett Bunn died, his slaves were sold, and his widow displayed some compassion.
She wanted to keep the maid's family together, so she bought them herself.
That widow was Gordon Bunn's great-great-great grandmother. He, too, has spent years learning about where he came from.
Along the journey, he met Gladys Robinson.
"I felt like I knew Mariah to start with, and when Gladys came along, well, you know, I can actually see and feel what this type of person is. They’re alive,” he said.
At the family reunion, he'll make a history presentation for Robinson's relatives.
Robinson is hoping her family will “embrace the knowledge” that Bunn delivers.
That her ancestors lived in bondage was a great sin of the American epic, she said.
"No one wants to think of your ancestors with no rights,” Robinson said. “You and I have to get over it and move forward. Most people you see going around angry all the time, they hurt all the time, too. I don’t want to hurt.”
If the two friends want anything, it's to heal.
"We can start somewhere,” Bunn said. “If nothing else, this is a start. Two of us have got it figured out – the rest of the world can come on, catch up.”