As a child, I grew up having the opportunity to hear my grandfather’s stories. I must say that at that age, I could not fully grasp the significance of what my grandfather was sharing. However, it was not until years later, after he died, that I started to understand what he was telling me.
My grandfather was originally from Batesville Mississippi in a time where racism, inequalities, and injustice were the norm. He was the oldest of six children. I can recall and hearing stories about how his parents were hard workers, and always tried to do their best for their children. His parents were sharecroppers. I can remember him telling me that the white man who owned the land was often harsh and unfair. He described how his parents got sick of the white land owner accusing his family of not paying their money, which prompted them to pack up their family and move to Memphis.
My grandfather described how moving to Memphis allowed his parents to become homeowners, which was a very big deal given their past living conditions in Mississippi. He described his parents’ feelings, as well as his feelings of being free and more importantly having their own.
In addition, my grandfather often talked about his military days. He was in the PFC Army, and fought in World War II. My grandfather had to work side-by-side White Men, even though whites treated his race wrong. He described this as a very complicated task, but he did what he had to do. He talked about how he came home and married my grandmother, bought his first house, and had his six children.
He mentioned frequently, dealing with white men harassing him. My grandfather described feeling so much hatred and heartache. He emphasized how he wanted things to be different for his children and grandchildren. He claimed that is why he was so hard on his children. He wanted them to be independent people. He did not want them to depend on no one, especially not the white man. My grandfather wanted fairness and equality for everyone. He instilled to his children that they would experience racism through out thei lives. He emphasized education and good jobs.
I believe my grandfather told me those various stories as learning tools. He wanted to show that becoming independence is a great factor to have. He showed that despite his feelings or attitudes, he did not let those affect his job or mission. More importantly, my grandfather allowed his experience shape his parenting skills. He described how living in the south helped him become the person he was. I believe his stories helped me understand how his past helped shape my family today. Overall, my grandfather was a great man, who did not let his struggles tear him down. His past has allowed me to understand the south and understand my family’s attitude.