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 To Jay Thomas Willis lane

February 8, 2013

The Proof is in the N-Product

By Jay Thomas Willis

Senior Columnist and Political Analyst

Mid-South Tribune and Black Information Highway

A number of years ago many people became concerned with genealogy: tracing their ancestry. Itís nothing new people have been doing it for a long time. But I do believe itís a new concept for a lot of Black people, an aftermath of the movie ďRoots.Ē Recently, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has been doing a lot of work in the area. Iím not presently nor have I ever been concerned with tracing my ancestry. The reason why is because my parents are top-of-the-line; they are the n-product of all past generations. I can see all the necessary family history in my parents.

            If my parents arenít successful, I donít expect to find any glory in past generations. Many people hope to find some glory in previous generations, and therefore painstakingly go searching their ancestry. If my parents werenít successful there is something seriously wrong with the roots that led from all previous generations. I understand that at some point most Blacks were slaves, and had to start from almost nothing. But many were able to overcome in spite of starting with next to nothing.

            I didnít know any of my great-grandparents. My sister told me that my great- grandmothers on both sides of the family were Indian princesses. I donít know this to be a fact, somebody told her this. She said it as if we had something to be proud of. I donít understand this line of reasoning, as if it made our family better. Other than what my sister told me I hadnít heard a single word about any of my great-grandparents. Their lives remain a mystery to me. I assume they were slaves, sharecroppers, or farmers, as most were during their lifetime.

            I didnít know my maternal grandmother; she died before I was born. My maternal grandfather I never met, though I think he was sick in the early part of my youth. The roads made for difficulty in traveling, and we lived at the end of a three-mile trail. This could be one reason why I never saw him. Though, Iím not making excuses for him. There was also reported to be bad blood between my father and my motherís father. My maternal grandfather was a farmer from what I understandówithout much education. Unlike my paternal grandparents they at least owned their own land. They lived in a small town called Harleton, Texas.

            My paternal grandfather died before I was born. I did see my paternal grandmother, and would visit with her after taking my father to her house. She never seemed anxious to see me, and I wasnít all that anxious to see her. Usually I would visit with a cousin while my father visited with her. I never remember her visiting with us at our home. I recall something about a bad relationship with my mother. She never said more than a few words to me, and seemed cold unfeeling, and rather aloof. When I knew her she was approximately eighty-six years of age. I heard it said that she wasnít sure how old she was. She had probably lost most of her vitality. My paternal grandparents were also farmers, more like sharecroppers. They never owned their own land, but sharecropped from farm to farm. During their lives they lived on various farms in Hallsville, Texas.

My mother graduated eighth grade, and went to work on their farm. High school was miles away in the city, so she couldnít attend. That was like being a million miles away. She worked on their farm until she met and married my father at the age of twenty-oneóaround 1922. She took care of the farm while her brothers were needed at the local sawmill. She plowed the fields from sunup to sunset like a man.

My father went to the second grade. He was needed to help out on the farm. They moved from one farm to another doing sharecropping work. He met and married my mother at the age of twenty-two.

When my mother and father first married they tried sharecropping for a while, as it was the kind of work they were familiar with. They even sharecropped on a Black manís farm. In about 1929 during the Depression they had a shack built on family land in East Texas. It was land handed down by my maternal grandmother. This land was in Hallsville, Texas, halfway between Hallsville and Marshall, three miles off the Henderson Springs Road. They raised ten children at this location. My father eventually went to work on the Gulf Coast about the time I was born. He came home twice a month and spent the weekends, and he also spent summer vacations with us.

In this rusty-tin-roof shack that leaked when it rained, had no electricity, plumbing, gas, or telephone, they lived most of their lives. My mother fed us by mostly farmingóraising a variety of crops. Until I was six years of age there was nothing but a trail to our house. We did get electricity and a dirt road when I was six. We got butane when I was a freshman in high school. We got a telephone after I was in college, and plumbing a few years later. My father died in 1988, and my mother died in 1989. My father lived more of a comfortable life in the city; my mother never knew any type of comforts.

As can be seen from my family background, thereís no reason for me to seek glory in previous generations. I must deal with n-results, and my parents are the n-results of all previous generations. If they werenít successful all previous generations have failed them; if I wasnít successful then past generations have failed me.

 

The above is on the Black Paper lane on the Black Information Highway and The Mid-South Tribune ONLINE. Mr. Willis is the author of twenty-three books, fifteen professional journal articles, a number of magazine articles, and over 300 newspaper articles. His books can be reviewed at www.jaythomaswillis.com .  Email him at jaytwillis@gmail.com  or MSTnews@prodigy.net or BlackInfoHwy@prodigy.net

 

 

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