This past weekend I had the opportunity to finally meet my dad’s side of my family. And boy, it was one of the best experiences I have ever encountered. Knowing my mother’s side all these years has been neat being that many of them have accomplished many things and also have many accolades to share with the younger generations, but what a surprise to learn about my father’s side! I had heard many interesting things but little did I know of all the interesting stories and achievements; especially from my grandfather and great-grandfather. My grandfather, Dr. Von D. Mizell, was the 1st surgeon in South Florida and was instrumental with Dr. James Sistrunk in building the first black hospital as well. He also founded the Broward County Chapter of the NAACP and was recognized nationally as the mastermind behind the desegregation of Fort Lauderdale beaches. He created the “wade-ins,” a unique variation of the “sit-ins” as a means to desegregate the beaches. In the 1970’s, the city named a branch of the public library and community center after him. Additionally, on July 31, the city of Ft .Lauderdale, declared July 31 as the “Mizell Family Legacy Appreciation Day.”
While I was home, I also had the opportunity to meet several of my cousins, aunts, and uncles, and it was such an incredible experience. I wish I could have packed all of them up in my suitcase and brought them back with me so that everyone could see that Blacks come in all shades of color; especially since people are always questioning my heritage due to my color. As soon as I got back to Charlotte, I couldn’t wait to research more now that I had more names to search with, and I found so much information simply utilizing Facebook.
I’m writing all of this to encourage you to learn your family history and roots. You will be surprised on how closely we are all truly connected and related. Through my latest research this evening, I located another male cousin who has known my closest girl cousin for many years, and due to she and I being double kin, she too, is related to him. It is also important to know your history so that you may pass along your knowledge and stories for the generations to come to understand who their family was. A newer technology was created, and you can have your DNA tested to locate the beginning roots of your family tree. I encourage you to do this, and find out where you came from. My aunt, from my mother’s side, found out that we are of African Royalty decent. I am on my way to doing so too.