A person of color, though white
I had, as you mentioned in the evening CSU Sacramento lecture, parents that did not weigh me down with their “rocks.” My father, at 14, was imprisoned on a grand theft felony conviction. After he was released from prison, he chose to rise above his circumstances and become a “clean” and successful administrator in the USAF Civil Service. Until your lecture, I did not understand why he always adamantly insisted that our home be in good repair, clean, and orderly.
He came from poverty. His mother, a widow, had raised five boys in a one bedroom house throughout the depression. At that time, they were living in Ash, Oregon, though they were originally from Oklahoma (“Okies”). While quietly carrying the rocks of his poverty and his felony, my dad taught me to have dignity and confidence. Your words have helped me to understand my family’s history. As I sort through their records and photographs to compile my memoirs, I will remember to view their “rocks” with an eye toward seeing my roots clearly.
Rev. Jeri J. Owens
Michele Norris is the host of NPR’s All Things Considered and the author of The Grace of Silence.