22 minutes ago
On a day like today I wanted to share and also honor a part of my family’s legacy on this land. This picture that I posted on Father’ Day is of my Grandfather, James Collquitt. Or, JC as most people called him. It was taken around 1945 in Germany near or after World World II’s end. James was the born in 1910. The Grandson of a slave. A slave who killed his master for his freedom in Atlanta and ran away to start a family of his own. James grew up hearing stories of slavery and the scars that it left on his Grandfather. As he grew older his parents became less interested in he and his siblings and more interested in themselves so he—along with his 3 siblings—were adopted by his Uncle. They lived off the land, drove cars at young ages and thought their world was a small part of Atlanta. Until one day the KKK came and hung his Uncle in the front yard as he and his siblings watched. James had no choice but to move to Philadelphia to start—again— a new life for his family. He worked and was able to buy a home in North Philly and his family followed. He joined the Army to get away from the discrimination he experience in Philly only to be assigned to a segregated tank unit. He had to steal food because they weren’t being fed before he had to fight the Nazi’s. But he never complained because he was willing to risk his life to see a world most black people would never get to see. He came back from the war and became a staple in the community. He was friends with Jazz legends like Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. He had 2 kids and was married once. He lived a life that this post could never fully cover. But, he lived. Like so many of US black folks in this country; his story is one full of pain, prejudice, and poverty. But it is also full of triumphs, survival, and an unflinching belief in the power of self. I lost JC in 2013 right after I graduated from college. He lived to be 102 and all he wanted was to see me do something he was never allowed. I am who I am because of this man and stories he told me. He taught me to always hold my head high. So, on a day like today, to all the descendants of slaves, never forget the shoulders on which we stand.