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Here is a collection of family immigrant stories from across our human experience.
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My ancestors came seeking freedom from religious persecution in England during the reign of King Charles II. Originally Quakers, they were pacifists, worshipping freely and opposing all forms of violence including war and slavery. Some were compelled to pick up arms when the threat to their newfound liberty became intolerable. Two individuals in particular, two generations apart, served our country in inspiring ways. My great, great, grandfather (upper left) was John Marshall Harlan who raised a militia in Kentucky during the Civil War and became a Colonel fighting for the Union Army. He went on to serve as an Associate Justice of United States Supreme Court from 1877-1911. He is most famously known for his “lone dissent” in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson in which he stated, “…Our constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law…” Most certainly a man of his times, he exemplifies to me, what it means to be an American; independent, courageous, passionate, principled, and vigorous in his critical thinking. At a time of great civil unrest, he held true to his convictions. He is considered one of the most important and influential justices in the history of American Jurisprudence.
The photo on the right is of my grandfather, John Marshall Harlan II who attended Princeton University and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. During WWII, he volunteered and served as a Colonel in the Army Air Force. After the war, he practiced as a corporate lawyer and litigator and went on to serve as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1955-1971. He authored many important opinions for the Court involving The Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses, Incorporation, The First Amendment, Criminal Procedure and Voting Rights. He was an exceptional person in all respects: kind, compassionate, and well-liked by all who knew him. A very good tennis player and golfer, he loved to joke around with me. He would ask, “What is your name?” I’d answer, “My name is Kate!” And, he’d say, “Well, I’m going to call you Kitten.”
My parents, Frank and Eve (Harlan) Dillingham were the most gracious and giving people I have ever known. Eve was a pianist and mother of five children, Frank, a piano technician and mechanical genius. Inspired by his son-in-law’s skill, my grandfather, known to us as "Gumpy" would say, “Someday, I am going to break everything in the house, put it in a pile on the floor, and watch Frank put it all back together again.” My parents encouraged my love for music and art and infused it with a wonderful sense of humor. I greatly admire the many accomplishments and contributions members of my family made for the betterment of our society and I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity to continue their legacy through my study and performance of music. Mine is a journey filled with many trials, travails, and triumphs. What an honor it is to be featured on this album that celebrates our heritage, our freedom, and independence from tyranny. Our work is never done!