A collection of life narratives given by Black men over the age of 70 from around the country along with their advice to youth.
In May of 2009, I had the pleasure of visiting Jefferson Eugene Grigsby, Jr., Ph.D. in his Phoenix Arizona home. This 91 year old African American told a very interesting story of his many life's achievements many of which were despite racial segregation and discrimination. So much was I impressed by this native of North Carolina, an army veteran of WWII, retired art education professor, and active artist that I recorded it on audiotape and wrote it. Then I traveled around to portions of this country seeking other Black men to also record their stories. To date I have self published two volumes which I have titled "Reflections of Our Lives: Narratives of Senior Black Men for Youth," each containing 25 interviews. In doing so have met some amazing men.
Each story I have collected thus far presents a part of the Black American Experience seldom spoke about. We rarely hear of these men who lived during the 1920s, the Great Depression of the 30s, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Conflicts, and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. They faced racism and discrimination, yet survived and flourished. I found so many having long successful marriages (some as long as 60 years and one for 77 years), some serving in the military achieving rank and prestige, many serving as educators after obtaining higher level degrees themselves, and much more. One man spent 10 years in prison for a crime he admits committing yet his case was overturned by the United States Supreme Court due improprieties by the prosecutor. One man served as a waiter for 47 years, while another who listed his occupation as a farmer was born in 1910 making him 100 at the time of his interview. One former Air Force major writes a Japanese language newspaper and another man helped open golf courses in private country clubs to Blacks in Georgia.
It is one thing that these men speak about their lives but they also express opinions about the problems they see confronting the youth of today. They speak on the qualities of manhood, relationships between men and women, and career issues and offer advice on each.
I initially set my sites on completing 100 interviews and have completed 50 before depleting my own personal resources. I only wish to continue with Volume 3 and Volume 4 of this work which though not a financial success, the two previous volumes have been seen as important documents of American social history.
To pull off the completion of this project I would need to get to targeted cities where I could contact such men through their churches or other organizations. I plan to compose letters soliciting appointments to meet and record the lives of the men willing to participate. I will travel to those cities by the most convenient means and use the least expensive lodgings during my stays. I will tape record and transcribe the interviews myself and upload them to a print on demand service I have used to publish all my works to date. To. do so I will need your help in the form of financial backing.
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