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Lyn Ford tells a story that was passed down by her favorite storyteller, her father.
When she was young she would ride around with her father and he would tell her
stories. Sometimes he would tell her stories late at night when she was crying, upset
after a hard day at school. As the only girl “of any color” in the gifted program at
school, Ford put up with a lot of teasing and harassment. She wouldn’t find her
father’s stories in the history books at school, but they would help her understand
who she was.
As an adult, and a professional storyteller, Ford decided she wanted to tell the
stories of the Underground Railroad. But the stories were not the stories everyone
knows, but the small stories she heard from her father. She researched the work of
Mr. Henry Burke, an important historian and folklorist in Ohio, and came across a
reference to one of her father’s stories – the story of Josephus who was born into
slavery and worked for a ferryman in Ohio transporting people across the river.
The way Ford’s father told the story is that the so-called owner of Josephus always told
stupid to do anything other than what he was told, and that he should just ferry across and
with their luggage and come back. One day an Abolitionist met Josephus at the ferry and
just step off the ferry himself on the other side of the river and then he could be a free man.
that although he was called stupid, he must get smarter at night because he was secretly
across the Ohio River and into freedom. He did this for over twenty years until the Emancipation
came into place.
This story helped a young Lyn Ford remember what the words she got called at school were.
The story of Josephus helped her understand who she really was.
Visit http://racebridgesstudio.com/story-short-finding-josephus/ to download the
corresponding audio (MP3) and video (MP4) files.