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Diversity is top priority for new DAR leadership

Woman wearing red striped blouse looks at an array of small quilts she’s made by hand.
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Nelly Custis DAR Chapter member Sheryl Sims looks over one of the dozens of quilts she’s made to represent her family and heritage.

New national DAR leader makes diversity a top priority as Virginia chapters welcome descendants of “Forgotten Patriots.”


SHERYL SIMS (NELLY CUSTIS DAR CHAPTER MEMBER): I'm a quilt artist, and this quilt I really love, because this is a quilt of my fourth great-grandfather's plantation house where he had enslaved my fourth great-grandmother. And the majority of my quilts are actually about family members and ancestors, and things like that. I descend from Andrew Cox, basically through my fourth great-grandmother's daughter. She had two children by my fourth great-grandfather to whom she was enslaved. I became a member of DAR officially in 2022. It meant a lot to all of us, because I was the first member of color to get into the chapter. It's very difficult, and then to find documentation you have to prove through records that you have a connection to each generation. For me, it was a little bit frustrating, because some of that we know, you know, as people of color, like we know the nature of slavery. But when you're in a lineage society and not just DAR, others as well, you have to prove these things.

PAMELA WRIGHT (PRES. GENERAL, DAUGHTERS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION): Our administration has set as one of our goals in the beginning to promote a sense of belonging for all of our members. And when our members feel like they belong to our organization and have a place, they bring their diversity. And by combining our diversity of experience, we are a stronger organization. Often research is very difficult for African American women, because documents are present up until about the Civil War time, but back of that due to slavery, it's hard to prove ancestry. But with the different resources that are available online now all avenues are opening up and the DAR is proud to collaborate with several organizations that are researching new resources for women of color. I believe that all patriots should be recognized, but more important, that all women who are eligible to join the DAR are given the chance to research their family and have the opportunity to join us in our service to our nation.

JOHNETTE GORDON-WEAVER (WILLIAMSBURG DAR CHAPTER MEMBER): There's an African word called “sankofa”, which means run back and fetch it. We've run back and fetched Anthony Roberts and his story, which is a part of my story, the tapestry of my life, if you will. He makes up that fabric. I am the first Black member of the Williamsburg chapter of DAR. Being a part of DAR means that someone recognizes the work that my patriot did. The history and the story that goes with it. He was free already, but people who look like him were not. And the fact that we have gone back and gotten the story that wasn't being told anywhere, excites and amazes me and makes me want other people to go and find their patriots and recognize and remember them. We're more American than we are anything. No matter if you come from the hills of West Virginia, the beaches of California, down in Florida, or my beloved Virginia, we are more alike than we are different.


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