Date of Award

Fall 12-15-2023


Here is a memoir of my paternal line through the lens of my Great-Grandmother and myself. A reclamation of the land I hail from and a connection to a history previously felt distant, this examination of race and gender explicitly focused on the African American Southern female experience; I try to make sense of the juxtaposing positions in our lives. The culture built from its creation through Tennessee personified. Here, I integrate history and theory with lyrics and prose to experience the eighty-one years of progress brought between our births and the lingering anxiety of slavery. My great-grandmother, Hazel Irene Huff Elder, a biracial woman who lived and grew up in Jim Crow Appalachia, lost both of her parents at a young age and lived to be 102 years old, experienced extreme racism and threats of violence from her own White family members, my Granny overcame the early 20th-century American South. Though my existence is exceptionally different from hers in the 21st century, my parents were the first generation of integrated education in this country, and now, in post-Trump America, the lingering tension of segregation is ever-present. In order to fully divulge my family’s history, I gained access to family documents from my paternal Aunt Jackie concerning Hazel Irene’s father, John James Anderson, and sensitive information containing articles on his fortune and his death. To evaluate the sources, I cross referenced with my paternal great-aunts and uncles, Hazel Irene’s living children, Uncle Danny H. Huff, Aunt Brenda F. Bond, and Aunt Katherine Huff-Blume and gained the ability to unpack the woman I knew, how they remember her, and how she accounted her life’s experience. To fully realize my reality, I reflect by comparing other genealogical discoveries congruent with my fall down the rabbit hole of family-cloth. I also reflect on the words of Zora Neale Hurston, Bell Hooks, and Audre Lorde to unpack the Black female form and understand through their words how my life becomes affected in similar aspects. Placing Hazel Irene and I as the forefront illustrations, I aim to explore how her life directly impacted mine, with Tennessee being the glue between us.


Dr. Heather Finch

Committee Member 1

Dr. Heather Finch

Committee Member 2

Dr. Gary McDowell

Committee Member 3

Dr. Sara Blomeley


English, Department of


Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, College of

Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Level


Degree Grantor

Belmont University