By Ebonique Ellis from Houston

Each generation of my family has had their own stories to tell that have inspired my own belief in liberty and encouraged me to keep up the fight.

On my father’s side, it was my great grandfather Thomas Blair Tomlinson, with his straight hair, dark black skin, and tall lithe figure, who would recount that his looks came from his Maroon heritage. In his day, the Africans and Native population of Jamaica fought together to escape slavery and build free communities. My family would recount tribal stories of how our ancestors immediately ran from the slave ships to the mountains, where we met and were supported by the Native Jamaicans. They moved to Limón, Costa Rica, and my grandfather Byron Ellis, Sr. was a key figure of the National Liberation Party. He rose to become Chief of Police in San Jose, before a regime change forced him to take asylum in the United States.

On my mother’s side, they told a different but equally inspirational story. This story also happened during the time of slavery — the slave-master’s daughter had a relationship with a slave and bore two children. A white woman (who was also powerless in those days) chose to reject white patriarchal society’s expectation for her, and to substitute her own values. She raised two strong, independent children who were educated and able to possess both land. I got to hear my family’s story from my grandmother, Jane Dunlap, who graduated from West Virginia State University in 1929, just nine years after women were first able to vote. Meanwhile, the other grandmother of mine on my mom’s side was Martha Sanders, was an civil rights activist and even honored by Senator Joe Manchin for her work.

 

My family’s history instilled in me the value of independence. With each generation, these stories were retold again and again, and with the stories came the burden of fighting to keep this passion for freedom alive.

I came to find that the more people who understand the ideas of liberty, the better all of our lives can be. Individual rights start with your own expectation and resoluteness to preserve your own human dignity. If you allow society, government, or even your own family to dictate your values, it shows that you are not independent and free-thinking — which is the basic framework of individual liberty.

When I reflect on these stories, I have to think about what would have happened if my family members had not chosen to be independent. If the slave master’s daughter never chose to love, my grandmother would never have been able to fight for black civil rights. If the Maroons hadn’t chosen to fight to preserve their freedom, my grandfather couldn’t have fought to disable the communist regime in Costa Rica.

Now, I follow my own path. I was active in the liberty movement for three years across the United States to fulfill those goals helping candidates and causes that I believed at the time were best suited to spread these values. More recently I moved from Houston, Texas to New York City and started a business consultancy called Good Management and Investments. The mission of this company is to help spur business growth in underdeveloped areas. I continue working on the liberty movement by empowering others to take part of the economic opportunities our country has to offer. To view more about the company, please visit our website at www.gmiltd.us or email us at info@gmiltd.us.