My life’s project tells the story of my African American family legacy that spans five generations from capture through slavery and reconstruction to the present. It is a story not often heard and is based on historical records, oral histories, memoirs and published manuscripts.
I grew up aware of the story of my family in Africa and slavery long before public schools began to discuss the continent. It has been one of my life’s goals to continue telling the story of that legacy. I feel that I have been passed the baton of communication from my past. The families were shackled by slavery but overcame tremendous odds to triumph as lawyers, judges, politicians, an ambassador, businessmen, educators, and artists.
I am the family spokesperson for The Stradford Awards now in its 26 year in Chicago and am writing our history.
I’ve been to Tulsa several times. Once when the survivors were honored by the Oklahoma government where they were given some sort of disk necklace like an Olympian; again with attorney Charles Ogletree to escort the Tulsa Race Riot survivors to Washington D.C. to speak before the Black Caucus and finally, bringing a Co-produced Chicago college theatre group to Tulsa to perform a play “If We Must Die”, before the public school students and adults.
As founder of What The Traveler Saw, Laurel incorporates her international experiences developed over a lifetime of travel both personally and professionally as Revlon International’s London based Executive Director for Special Programs for Africa and Europe. While living overseas Laurel wrote a book illustrating her travels called What The Traveler Saw.
13 years later, upon returning to the United States in 1999 her shop was born by the same name. With her photographers’ eye for the unusual with great detail, Laurel selects items that will enhance the home and satisfy your gift giving needs. Many items are created by and in support of fair trades communities for schools, hospitals and housing around the world. And as an image/design consultant, her team helps organize and beautify homes with the unique goods she’s identified.