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Reflections on my life on another birthday

This month I became one year older. I could complain, but I would not, by my own volition, want to settle for a different alternative. I won’t disclose how old I am, but I must admit I have witnessed and experienced things over the years that as a child I never thought imaginable.

As most of my readers know, I am a product of Lagrange. I was born to the greatest parents children could affectionately call “mama and daddy.” Between them, five children were born in a community called “Fertilize.” I did not realize, until much later in life, that the real name of our community was called Live Oak. My mother was a stay-at-home parent, and my father would spend more than 25 years working at one of the local textile plants. It is amazing to me, even today, that I never remember my father being sick or too ill to work. It is a feat, to his being an exemplar of a responsible parent charged with taking care of our family.

Excluding my many cousins, most of my immediate family members — other than two sisters — are now deceased. Until the early 1960s, everyone essentially settled into accepting constraints of the institution of segregation, believing that ideas such as equality — especially integration- would be as likely as an invasion from another planet. These kinds of ideas did not become real to me until I attended college. It was then that the world began to change right in front of me. I saw people of all races protest and even die, so that this country could live up to what can be found in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence: “all men are created equal.”

After college, I traveled to Ghana, West Africa where I lived for nearly three years. This was truly a learning experience for a young man just entering adulthood. Students from all over the world were traveling to the continent to learn about African culture. It was during my second year in the country that I was invited as a guest speaker at Temple University in Pennsylvania (what was called the prestigious, Samuel E. Paley, Library Lecture Series) to discuss instability in African countries. I pondered, as I looked over the audience that day — the son of a barely, literate textile worker, speaking to the faculty and student body at an institution I would’ve been denied admittance as a child.

Since that time, I have spoken at numerous universities and colleges. God has also blessed me with the skill to write, and over the years have written two books and hundreds of news columns. I have three marvelous children who are married and to date, relatively successful.

I chose education as a career spending more than 24 year in the profession. Reflecting on my birthday, I have made some very good decisions and a few horrible ones which cost me thousands of dollars. Through it all, however, I have survived, and with God’s mercy, doing quite well.