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My Woke Childhood in the 1950s

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

I was born white on Halloween in 1944 in Houston, Texas. That would make me 78 years old soon; that makes me about 2 years younger than President Biden. So his life experiences and wisdom sort of parallels mine. This is why I am so confused by the policies Joe has placed on me and other American Citizens.

My first memory of politics was at 8 years old in 1952 Presidential election between Republican, Ike Eisenhower, and Democrat, Adlai Stevenson. We had just purchased our first blank and white TV so I was glued to the news reports and campaign events. I spent hours in front of the TV for weeks. As with any 8 year old I viewed my first Presidential election through the eyes of my parents. My father served in the US Air Force during WWII on Tinian one of the Mariana Islands in the Pacific where he was a mechanic maintaining the B29 aircraft bombing Japan including the atomic bombs. He had dropped out of Rice University abandoning a promising engineering career to defend his country. He returned when the war ended, served as a volunteer policeman, became a 32nd degree Mason, became a loan officer at Port City State Bank, volunteered his service to Shriner's Hospital & Shriner's Circus and volunteered at the Houston Fat Stock Show and Rodeo. I do not know how he found the time, but he also served as councilman and mayor of some of Houston's Metropolitan Area's small cities. My mother's only passion was a devoted voice in our local church choir and teaching her children about life's values and how to live a good life. Her father, my grandfather, was a gifted Bible/life-lesson story teller.

My memories before 1952 are sketchy, but I remember life being hard for everyone, black and white. I am just old enough to remember WWII rationing. It is hard for today's youth to understand how hard life was during and just after WWII. I say, take the Covid experience and multiply by 10. I remember grownups talking about horrible racial acts that occurred before I was born. Their emotion attached to these stories was non-existent; the stories were told as just an awful event in history.

In the 1950s I remember the signs of racial discrimination. There were the two water fountains at the grocery store, one marked white and one marked black, they were exactly alike neither one better than the other. As a child I accepted the fact without thinking much about it. I did not mind drinking from the fountain marked black if someone was using the one marked white; so did my friends. On Saturday morning I would take the bus into town to catch the movie theater morning matinee featuring the serial feature, The Copperhead staring Bob Wayne. The rear of the bus was reserved for black people. I noticed that people followed the black/white separation rule if there were empty seats. However, if the bus was crowded people ignored the rule and took any seat available. Even the older generation was over strict segregation.

I can truly say that I never heard what I would call hate speech. Now there were jokes that expressed some very negative attributes that you would never tell within the ear of an individual representing the "butt" of the joke. This included gays as well as blacks. However, it also included aggies, individuals who attended Texas A&M University, people from Italy and people from Mexico. As a Libertarian I definitely defend what many call hate speech as Free Speach protected by the First Amendment. Freedom of expression, free speech, without the freedom to offend ceases to exist.

Returning home after WWII my father took an entry level job, teller, at the National Bank of Commerce in downtown Houston. He left after mastering his banking career and became the Vice President and Chief Loan Officer at Port City State Bank on Jenson Drive in the fifth ward of Houston, Texas, a predominantly black area east of downtown Houston. My father would always say "judge a man by his character not his color" and I can say he always did exactly that. It always amazed me how adamant he was. Even family members were denied if they had a flaw in their character. My football buddies who would characterize as reckless were denied. One example was Motown Records. Headquartered in Detroit Michigan and acting as a black startup they meet with my father and asked for a loan to buy a tour bus. My father verified their character, gave Motown the loan and the banking relationship lasted for years, as long as my father stayed at Port City State Bank. I was the proud beneficiary of every new release, early, that Motown made for my high school and college years which made me and my friends very happy. The rule of judging an individual by character and ability has made me a very successful entrepreneur and a person at peace with his life.

My Father Would have Given Martin Luther King a Loan


Back to President Biden and his childhood experience contrasted to mine. For me my parent's generation, exiting WWII and having children of their own, were well on their way to ending racism and segregation. By the time the Civil Rights Act of 1968 the civil rights movement was 23 years old. In no way is my parent's WWII generation the white supremacists that I see them portrayed as by the woke policy of Joe Biden. The woke policy of unequal justice to correct any historical perceived unequal justice is doomed to failure, it is only an opinion held by a few and sold to the many. Martin Luther King spoke of equality not woke policy. Had MLK and my dad ever met I am sure they see the world the same way.

Let us stop denigrating our flawed history. Truth is every country has a flawed history. History can never be changed; it is the past. I have spent my nearly 78 years on this earth as a Libertarian treating every person equal no matter their skin color or sexual orientation. I have a dream that all individuals will one day live in a nation where they will be judged by their actions and content of their character.

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