When author Regina Mason was assigned a project in 5th grade that required her to jump headfirst into her origins, she didnâ€™t know that it was the beginning of a personal journey spanning 35 years.
As Black History Month winds down, CSUâ€™s largest black student organization will host Mason as the final keynote speaker who, 20 years after her grade school assignment, finally delved into her African roots.
â€œItâ€™s my hope that curiosity would bring students to see me speak because itâ€™s a personal journey; we all have a need and desire to know from whence we came,â€ Mason said.
Before she co-authored the â€œLife of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave,â€ Mason hadnâ€™t wanted to know where she came from. But after talking with her aunt, the â€œfamily historian,â€ she was given a â€œtid-bitâ€ of information about her enslaved ancestor, William Grimes.
Starting in 1991, Mason spent 15 years documenting the life of Grimes, who escaped and published the first narrative from the perspective of a fugitive Southern slave.
Black Definition, the group hosting the event, picked Mason because she fits this yearâ€™s theme for Black History Month, â€œUntold Stories,â€ which seeks to highlight the lives of lesser-known Black heroes.
Americans tend to focus in on the same people when studying history, especially in Black history, said Blane Harding, a CSU Liberal Arts academic advisor.
â€œWhen we talk about slavery, we talk about Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman,â€ Harding said.
An aspect of Masonâ€™s untold story involves breaking the stereotype about what it meant to be a slave.
There are many complexities of slavery that the average CSU student is unaware of, a CSU professor said, noting that the very definition of slavery varied from region to region in the United States.
â€œMost people think they understand what slavery was or how it worked; their misconceptions are rooted in what they get in grade school,â€ said Richard Breaux, an assistant professor of ethnic studies.
By bringing Mason to CSU to speak about the life of a runaway slave, Breaux said, Black Definition will expose students to slavery first hand, revealing the political, social and human impact slavery had on America.
Staff writer Allison Welter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who: Closing keynote speaker for Black History Month, Regina Mason, co-author of the â€œLife of William Grimes, the Runaway Slaveâ€
Where: Lory Student Center West Ballroom
When: Tonight at 6 p.m.