This is the story of how my family has made a name for themselves and set examples that many black people in America don't get.
I come from a family of very successful black men. Not “6 car garage successful” but successful enough to where my parents didn’t have to struggle as children. My grandfathers were able to create a way for themselves during a difficult time for black men in this country. They set examples for my father and my father is setting those same examples for me and my brother. There have been very high standards for us. So high that sometimes i fear we won’t me them.
My great grandfather was born in 1932 right here in Detroit, Michigan. Ever since he was a little boy he excelled in all his classes and aspired to be the best in everything he does. He was never not on the honor roll. In 1949, he graduated High School #1 in his class. He attended the University of Michigan and graduated there #3 in his class in 1954. My great grandfather is clearly very intelligent and persistent. During these times, especially the 50s, a black man going to a school like UofM was unheard of. He tried to apply to UofM medical school, however, he was denied because he was not qualified enough to get in which was really their way of saying, “we’re sorry sir, but we only accept white students in our school.” It didn’t matter how smart he was or how persistent he was, back then the only thing that defined him was the color of his skin. Since he was rejected by UofM, he applied for Wayne State Med School and was of course accepted. After completing med school, he went on to be one of Detroit’s finest general surgeons.
Aside from being a great doctor, he was also a great athlete. He played football, basketball, ran track and boxed all in high school, Later, he became a golden glove champion in the middleweight division. My grandfather told me that he talked to his father once, which was rare because he was always working, but he asked him if there was anything in life that he did and he didn’t want to do it. He told him, “Everything I did, I did because they told me I couldn’t.” This is a motto that he have lived by for years and as the family name went on we began living by those words too.
My grandfather was born into a family of three. Two girls and he was the only boy. He, like his father, was very smart as a young boy. He made the honor roll every year he was in school. He graduated from Detroit St. Martin de Porres high school #4 and went on to Michigan State University. He was denied from UofM because of the same reasons as his father. This is one of the reasons my family favors MSU over UofM, but that’s not important. Once he graduated from MSU, he attended Wayne State Med school like his father. My grandfather was a general surgeon at the DMC downtown along with many other hospitals in the state, not just the city. He later opened his own clinic in Southfield in the Advance building on greenfield.
As you can see, there are very high standards for me and my brother. We have a reputation to keep going for our family name. The family name has been associated with doctors for about 50 years now and we were expected to keep that going. However, we do not want to be associated with medicine. We have other dreams that are different from our grandparents. I want to go on to be a professional musician and/or professional athlete and I don’t know what my brother wants to do with his life, but we both have dreams of making as much money as we possibly can.
The greatest aspect of the American way, is that no matter where your family comes from, whether you are born he or immigrants, you can make your life what you want it to be. This is the country to make your dreams come true. If you want to be a doctor, go be a doctor. If you want to be an athlete, go be an athlete. The limits are endless. You just have to be willing to work really hard because it’s never going to be easy. This country is also a one of strength and determination. Your work ethic will determine your true success.