From ancestral discoveries to creating awareness to seeking post-conviction relief, one St. Louis woman is working to honor her family by raising awareness about the legacy of racism and slavery.

Pamela Westbrooks-Hodge discovered that she is related to Celia, a Callaway County slave, who was executed in 1855 after defending herself against her owner. According to Westbrooks-Hodge, Celia was purchased by Robert Newsom for the purposes of being a concubine after his wife’s death.

“After about five years and bearing at least one child for Robert Newsom, she had two children in total, she got tired of what she was enduring and she was, she killed Robert Newsom,” she told Missourinet.

She seeks post-conviction relief to clear Celia’s name in the Calloway County courts.

“The Callaway County courts will have jurisdiction here,” she explained. “So, it is our hope and our plan to appeal to the prosecuting attorney of Callaway County asking him to file a motion with the Callaway County courts to overturn Celia’s conviction.”

She is hoping others can learn about what she calls inhumanity.

“Let’s talk about what happened here in Missouri because when we study the past, when we study these atrocities, we’re better able to recognize the warning signs and then our children can stand in the gap, and they can prevent these things from happening again,” Westbrooks-Hodge said. “Those things we don’t understand, if we don’t recognize the warning signs, they’re doomed to repeat.”

Westbrooks-Hodge is a descendant of Celia and Robert Newsom’s daughter who was born in 1854.

Click here to listen to her interview for Show Me Today.

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