“I still desperately want to know what happened to Patsey,” Kate Calautti‘s 3.2 Vanity Fair piece concludes. “I want to believe she was able to survive, to prevail, and then to thrive on her own. As nobody’s property. As master of her own body and mind. I searched for her right up until the moment this piece was due. There’s still a thick stack of notes and to-do lists next to my computer. I’m not ready to crumple them in the trash uncrossed, unchecked. It feels too much like discarding a life.

“I hope this piece serves as a jumping-off point — as a call to action and a call to love and healing. [Patsey] is long gone, but her story never died. We cannot be hindered by what appears to be a lost cause — unearthing these narratives of our country’s painful history will set us on the path to understanding and willing ourselves not to repeat it. Let’s allow Patsey’s plea to resonate for countless others — because if we don’t consider what became of them, what’ll become of us?”