Finding Francis, finding family, freeing history
Francis is found. Beyond Francis, a family is found—in archival material that barely deigned to notice their existence. This is the story of Francis Sistrunk and her children, from enslavement into forced migration across South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. It spans decades before the Civil War and continues into post-emancipation America. A family story full of twists and turns, Finding Francis reclaims and honors those women who played an essential role in the historical survival and triumph of Black people during and after American slavery.
Elizabeth West has created a remarkable "biohistoriography" of everyday Black resistance, grounded in a determination to maintain enduring connections of family, kinship, and community despite the inhumanity and rapacity of slavery. There is inevitable heartbreak in these histories, but there is also an empowering strength and inspiration—the truth of these lives will indeed set us all free.
Elizabeth J. West is the John B. and Elena Diaz-Verson Amos Distinguished Chair in English Letters and the Co-Director of Academics of the Center for Studies on Africa and Its Diaspora at Georgia State University. She is the author of African Spirituality in Black Women's Fiction and coeditor of Literary Expressions of African Spirituality.