A saying was passed down in Bettye Kearse's family: "Remember your name is Madison." A reunion of slave descendants this weekend at James Madison's Virginia plantation might bring her a step closer to proving the truth of the saying.
Kearse said her family traces its roots back to a slave named Corean, who was reportedly owned by Madison and gave birth to a son named Jim. When Jim was sold to a plantation owner in Tennessee, she told him not to forget he was a Madison in case they should ever reconnect. Since then, the saying's meaning has evolved.
"Initially it was a tool, then it became valuable after the slaves were free because my family really did well. They owned property, participated in government, learned to read and then they passed this legacy on," Kearse said. [Link]