Living in Modern America and Celebrating Black History MonthAs Black History Month approaches, Rev. Wayne Perryman, a Republican minister from God knows where keeps insisting that America’s problem is white folks being discriminated against by Blacks, and he continues to attack Jesse Jackson, which seems personal.  It doesn’t help us Republicans in our quest for more Black voters. Being a Republican, I’m constantly asked my opinion about this guy, and I’m sick of him and wish he would shut the hell up.

Wayne Perryman is one reason that young and old African Americans should never take their hard-won rights for granted. His outlook is also a wake-up call to anyone who understands the perils of slavery.

America has nothing I want in the way of an apology for slavery or reparation for that matter. But I’m not getting over slavery.

There’s nothing quite as daunting as going to a county office building down in Clinton, NC, and finding evidence of your family’s bondage. I did that last December. There’s little information about my great, great grandfather other than he was a slave in Sampson County, but my great grandfather, Alford Oates, died in 1905.  Land records confirmed the story I had heard since I was a young boy: that my late great grandmother’s name was Frances, and she often spoke of “Old Master”. She told about all the family being sold, her mother and all the other children, but the “Old Master” kept her to tend to the babies. After slavery, later in life, she became a midwife and served her community and surrounding areas faithfully, earning the respect of all, as there were few doctors in those days. Records show that in 1900 my great grandfather bought a farm located in the Westbrook Township, a few miles from Newton Grove, consisting of twenty-seven and one half acres and moved his family there. Listening to my grandfather tell these stories always fascinated me.   Like farm equipment, livestock and things of other value, my relatives were considered legal property, listed by name, with assigned monetary value by their owners. I don’t know of a living soul who had anything to do with slavery, but our country’s shameful history on race is not limited to slavery. People of my generation were alive when Jim Crow was a way of life in North Carolina. There’s lots of folks around who saw these statures passed: Miscegenation was declared a felony in 1921; in 1931 the State Libraries separated; in 1947 laws called for racial restrictions for the burial of the dead in cemeteries(for Christ sakes!)..; in 1952, all Black Troops were to be under control of whites; and in 1957, No child was forced to attend school with children of a different race, even after Brown vs. Board of Education. I remember the bricks being thrown at school buses caring my sisters and brothers during integration. I was around when there was massive resistance to the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown decision desegregating public schools. I remember, Feb. 2, 1960, when students from the historically Black A&T College occupied luncheon counter seats, without being served,(they stayed all day) at downtown F.W. Woolworth Co. Store.   For all the things said about Jesse Jackson, I remember that in 1963, when he was student body President at A&T, Jackson led demonstrations downtown in an attempt to integrate the theaters there and the old Mayfair and S&W cafeterias.  I also remember in my early childhood riding by a school located three(3) miles from my house to a school located 20 miles away.   Today, things have changed.  A Black man is running for President and he is not my choice.  We also use the same libraries, we no longer ride in the back of buses, even though modern day kids prefer riding in the back. Yes, things have changed, but not without lawsuits, civil rights demonstrations by the likes of Franklin McClain and Joseph McNeil who were active in the 1960 sit-ins at F.W.Woolworth in Greensboro, and the goodwill of many white citizens who believed in fairness.    Contrary to what Rev. Jesse Peterson and others want to believe, our state’s legacy of segregation and discrimination in education and employment has harmed many Black North Carolinians, depriving them of the tangible benefits enjoyed by their white counterparts. Bias and discrimination always benefits someone, and many people of my generation have benefited from it, so let’s stop pretending that things never happened. Today, Black on Black Crime, gangs, uneducated Black youths, and predator lending practices contribute to all of the above also. Our present day leaders, Black and White, should be held accountable.   Even as the end of the Civil War freed Blacks in North Carolina, Jim Crow played a vital role in the lives of most of the people of my generation. Reparation is not worth the trouble, but one must know, and remember their history to move on, but forget, NO!!!. Being a Republican is a personal choice, which doesn’t stop me from belonging to the NAACP, supporting HBCU’s, respecting what Jesse Jackson did, liking Rudy Gualiana, or criticizing  Spendthrift Democrats, Slick Republicans and that crowd in DC who continues to mess up our government.   What better way than to celebrate Black History Month than Blacks, Whites, Hispanics and others to know our history?

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