PJ Thomas, 64, founding editor of Pathfinders Travel Magazine for People of Color
I was in Florida, around 2000, and we had just started the magazine maybe three years or so before. I was extremely tired. You know, when you’re first in business and you’re working, you know, 15-hour days? I was on a press trip. And they had given us some free time. We were supposed to be going to take a golf lesson, but I just went and stood by the ocean and sat there a minute and talked to the ancestors.
I asked them for strength. I always ask them to allow me to draw from their strength. First, I thank them. And I tell them, I know you know how I’m feeling. I know that you know that although this is probably nothing like you endured, for me at this moment, I’m tired. And I need to be able to draw from your strength. That’s what I always do, any time when I’m by the Atlantic.
The moment I first felt that standing by the Atlantic Ocean, it’s like I could hear them speak to me, calling me “daughter.” Saying, “Daughter, rest. Take from us what you need. And go on.” I always feel empowered.
I’m Christian, and I go to church. I’m not ancestor worshipping or spirit worshipping or any of that. But I do believe in the spirits of those who have gone before me. I do believe that I get my strength and my knowledge and my will and my tenacity -- I believe that I get all of that knowing what they did for me.
They survived. I can, too.
On a trip to Cuba in November, I visited a fort that looked out at the Atlantic and a coffee plantation a black woman ran. I felt so proud of my people for always being able to make a way out of no way. And that’s what I saw in Cuba. And I compare that to what we have gone through here in the States and what we continue to go through. Just how our people are able to be so resilient.