“It all started with one of those DNA kits to just see where we come from. It inspired me to sit down and make a family tree, because I’ll be able to share those messages with future generations.”
Demaurey Drummond is a corporate lawyer in Denver, Colorado, whose family story goes back decades and spans oceans. He has roots that trace back to Jamaica; roots that he is piecing together through a family tree.
“I think the pandemic has only made conversations and time spent together that much more important,” he said.
Against the backdrop of COVID-19, Demaurey did not let physical distance hinder his connection to his family. His family tree started to provide answers: suddenly, there was an explanation for why he and his siblings all worked in community-related services. Demaurey began to see that his family tree bore the fruit of intergenerational strength, long cultivated by the generations before him.
“What stood out to me [was] hearing those details about my great grandparents and how the legacy was built,” Demaurey said, “and hearing how my great grandfather was a mason in Jamaica who was building houses, and how my grandfather just comes close to tears when he’s talking about him.”
In tears, Demaurey’s grandfather explained that his own father made sure he learned a trade.
Demaurey said, “Growing up and seeing my grandfather with his own business as a plumber really inspired me. And it really is fulfilling to be
a part of that legacy now as an entrepreneur myself.”
But Demaurey’s life as a corporate lawyer for his tax resolution company lies in stark contrast to the reality for previous generations of his family.
“I talked to my grandmother about the biggest issue before starting a family, and she said finding a place to live was the biggest challenge. She recalled these stories of walking for miles with a bucket just to get water and bring it back so that they’d be able to cook. It’s these stories that will stick with me forever.”
Stories of resilience and sacrifice are just part of his family’s legacy. As he put together the family tree, Demaurey discovered that his family had also long been community-oriented.
“My grandmother said she was using the strength of her neighbors to help raise the children back in Jamaica. Understanding how they relied on the community so much back then is just a full circle moment because I see my siblings and I doing the same. We take pride in building networks that revolve around one person helping the other.”
As Demaurey connected his family’s past in Jamaica and New York to his present in Colorado, he thought about the future: “I think my family will represent love of family and love of community. And stories from my family and grandparents are things I hold onto very dearly.”
For many immigrant families, a sense of home is not connected to a physical place. Instead, the feeling oftentimes is connected to people, stories, and memories passed down through time.
Demaurey said, “It is hard to speak on behalf of all immigrants. But an experience migrating from one country to another brings an added layer of togetherness that can’t be duplicated. I think that combination of work ethic plus family togetherness is the ultimate recipe for building for the next generation.”