Henrico teen honors family history through documentary - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Henrico teen honors family history through documentary


The documentary, "Elvira's Eyes", is an important piece of history, especially for 17-year-old Sydney Shavers.

It is important to Sydney because Elvira Abernathy is her great-great-great grandmother, who was a slave and eventually, a free woman.

The documentary shows Sydney's journey to find out more about her.

"I've always been into history, and so for a personal project that was required for IB, I decided to do my own genealogical research. So, with that, I made this documentary," said Shavers.

Sydney actually produced this 25-minute documentary when she was 14 years old. Many people were impressed and wanted to know more about how she did it..

Today, she travels around the area sharing Elvira's story, and also talking to people about how they, too, can find out more about their own family tree.

She said you may discover some things that may surprise you.

"I was really surprised that she remained on her master's plantation after the slaves were freed," said Shavers.

However, while pouring through various historical documents and articles for several months, and listening to the stories of family members, Sydney also learned a thing or two about herself.

"I learned mainly how strong I am. Looking at her, she endured one of the most difficult times in our nation's history, and so seeing her strength and perseverance to get through that time lets me know that anything that I encounter today, I must get over it. It's nowhere as hard as slavery was and so I must persevere through whatever hardship I am going through," said Shavers.

Sydney believes her great-great-great grandmother would smile at her documentary as well as what she is doing to help the community learn more about history, and that makes her smile.

You can watch "Elvira's Eyes" as part of an exhibit at Richmond's Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.

Copyright 2013 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

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