“Learn About” Questions
- How did Jim Crow laws impact African American families living in the south?
- How did segregation impact the educational experience of African Americans vs. whites?
- How does race impact education today?
“Learn From” Questions
- How do I tend to handle worry in my life?
- Were there things I felt excluded from when I was a child? How do I deal with exclusion?
- What are my feelings about my ability to improve myself personally, professionally, educationally, etc.?
I often quote my mother and I have tried to emulate many of the things that my family cherished. One of the things, I remember my mother used to say that there should be no such thing as worry. If you have an issue, you analyze it, decide what you can do about it and do what you can, and leave it alone. She also said that there’s no sense in losing a good night’s sleep, because there is nothing you can do about anything between 11 o’clock at night and 7 o’clock the next morning. So you might as well have a good night’s sleep, wake up the next day and deal with whatever you have to deal with. But it was a family that not just supported, but reinforced our doing our best at everything. I can remember coming home and telling my mother, when I was in elementary school or junior high, that I’d gotten first prize or had gotten or earned an A or something. And she would say, ‘That’s nice, but remember, you can always do better.’ So that was kind of our guiding principle, that even though we grew up during the days of Jim Crow and segregation, we never felt denied. And we never felt less than because excellence was always reinforced and I remember my mother, once there was something, some discussion regarding race and race relations, and my mother said, ‘You’re going to find people of every race that you like better than others, and some that you like less than.’ So we never labeled people by race. If someone did something that was not good, that was that person’s responsibility and that person’s fault. But it was a great experience growing up. The other thing I learned, and I tried to do that with my own son, you can support and demonstrate love without being mushy about it. My family was not a ‘huggy-kissy’ family and my mother, I never remember her saying anything about ‘you’re beautiful’ but she did say that beauty is what’s inside. And the outside, of course, we were always reinforced to do the proper things, to wear the proper things, to act in a way that would enhance not only ourselves but our family. And that’s the kind of home that we grew up in.