I was born in Brundidge Alabama (1945) and grew up (1950-1963) in a segregated Negro community in Malvern, Ohio where my father worked in a brick yard, my mother cleaned White people’s houses and we lived in a company house without running water. My Negro friends and I attended Malvern’s integrated schools, played on the sporting teams and we even had one or two Negro members in the band. We, the Negro kids, were part of the school and the community but we knew we were different and not in a good way. We knew our place and with few exceptions stayed within those limits.
It was not until I graduated from high school and attended college at Capital University (Bexley, Ohio) in August, 1963 I discovered how isolated my high school Negro classmates and I really were from White society. I entered and lived in a White world among approximately 2000 White students and professors with 5 other Black students and a sprinkling of Black cafeteria workers. I had been isolated and was unprepared for the White world. Jim Doughty, my roommate, saved me. Jim Doughty was a Black student, a son of a well known Black minister in Columbus, Ohio, who had been recruited by Capital for his high jumping ability (track) and basketball skills. Jim Doughty began to teach me about being Black in White America. Jim was not big on passing down history lessons as much as he was about teaching me attitudinal and survival skills. Jim instilled in me that because we were Black and in the minority, we did not have to take a back seat to anyone. I survived and blossomed at Capital University under Jim’s tutelage.
It was not until I graduated from Capital in 1968 and began to teach social studies at a juvenile institution populated predominantly with Black males ages (15-18) from Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio that I learned about Black history. I began teaching the American history I had been taught only to discover that these street smart youths, who were familiar with Black Muslims and ghetto living, were agitated by my whitewashed history. In order to be an effective teacher, I had to learn how Black and White American history was interrelated. What I discovered was that most Black history or the positive, powerful and important roles Black people played in America’s history had been left out of school’s textbooks. Lerone Bennett’s book “ Before the Mayflower” supplemented our assigned textbook and my Black and White students became intellectually engaged. After reading Lerone Bennett books, I progressed to reading material written by W.E.B. Dubois, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin. Richard Wright, Frederick Douglass, Walter Mosley, Nikki Giovanni, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and many others. I read to gain insight into myself, an understanding of America, for entertainment and for the pure joy of experiencing life through the lives of other Black people. Having built up this immense wealth of knowledge, in 2020 I found myself expounding some of this information in the book, “Because We Are Black”. After writing “Because We Are Black” I was asked by some readers for more detailed information about suggestions for remedying the wealth inequality issue. In answering these requests, I researched and wrote “Reparations: A Step Toward Resolving Black Americans’ Wealth Inequality”.
I hope you enjoy “Because We Are Black” and “Reparations” and find both books add value to your educational experience.
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