Thursday, March 6, 2014

#TBT We shouldn't tolerate second class citizenship

I thought I would go way back for my #TBT (throw back Thursday) today.  This picture is one I am particularly proud of, one that probably guides me in my everyday work more than I realize.  It is a picture from the late 1940s in Kentucky.  What you are looking at, is a restaurant that my Great Grandfather worked at.  Delbert (who is in the foreground) worked at this place with his brother in law, my Great Great Uncle (who is in the background).  It was that side who owned the store, not my Great Grandfather.  This picture might not mean much to you, but I ask that you to put the picture in its historical context.  This was in the segregated South, during the height of the Jim Crow laws.  Not only was "separate but equal" rarely enforced, it was often ignored.  My GGF had no reservations about serving African-Americans.  In fact, as a result of their reputation, 90% of their clientele were African-American.   All my ancestors in this picture were raised on the Tennessee border. They are just removed from grandparents who fought for the Confederacy.  I don't claim they were perfect, but at a time when it was excused by society to treat a particular section of the society as second class citizens, my family did not.  I am very proud of that.

The next decade, late 50's early 60's, their business interests moved to more of a general store.  It was a store in the front of a "shotgun" house.  Again, my family's reputation preceded them, and much of their loyal clientele was African-American.  Not only did they proudly serve any person who came in the door, they even offered credit to the African-Americans.  This is something else that seems routine in today's world, I assure it was not back then.  They knew their clients, they treated them with respect, and they trusted them.  In return, my Great Grandfather was trusted, treated with respect, and had a loyal customer base.  He also had very little problems collecting on the debts that were owed to them.   That is what happens in a reciprocal relationship built on trust. 

Again, they weren't perfect.  While Delbert served in the Navy during WWI and fought off the Kaiser's men, I am told he liked the ponies a little too much.  Despite all that, he didn't tolerate someone being treated as a second class citizen.  Delbert's daughter in law was a fiery red haired Irish Catholic (God rest her sainted Irish soul).  Her family knew all too well, both in the homeland (Ireland), and here in America, how poorly Irish Catholics were often treated.  

I can't tolerate it either.  I don't care if you're African-American, Homosexual, Hispanic, Muslim, Jewish, or even a pledge.  Second class citizenship in America, in SAE, is unacceptable.  We are better than that as Americans, and we are better than that as SAEs.  Many of  y'all may think I am crazy, maybe I am?  You may also think that its a leap to make some of the comparisons in the above sentence.  I assure you it is not.  At some point in time you have to take a stand, even if it makes you uncomfortable, even if it leaves you vulnerable.  At the end of the day, there is never a wrong time, to do the right thing.  


  1. This is so on point!!!!!!!
    I am glad to have you as a brother from another family!!!! (SAE)

  2. I couldn't agree more! Very well said. I have never been more proud to be a part of this fraternity and staff.

  3. Great picture, you should be proud of your family and the man you are today because of them.