I am the child of a mother who became pregnant at the age of 20. My father a few years older than my mother, on his own free will asked her to marry him. I never thought to ask my now deceased parents if they would have gotten married without the pregnancy. I grew up on the west side of Chicago where we lived in two and three-story walk ups that consisted of four to six apartments. There was peeling linoleum floors and paint with leaks coming through outside walls. Our street had more vacant lots than it did buildings. Although my parents had financial struggles brought on by various causes, I was raised in an overall stable two parent household.
I could have easily fallen in with the wrong group of people. However, I had a street smart father who ensured that didn’t happen. My father was sometimes involved in activity that could have led to jail time. I believe my mother and I helped my father to change his focus from get rich schemes to more structured and stable behavior.
It is easy to blame the environment in which we are raised for our current condition, especially if we are struggling. When we are prosperous and successful we are less critical of our past. However we are a product of our environment, regardless of good or bad as children we are molded by the situations and conditions we face daily.
Saturday, May 4, 2013, I participated in history as a Delegate at the South Carolina Democratic Party’s 2013 State Convention, when Jaime Harrison was elected as the first African-American Chair. Even in this the 21st century African-American’s still are making strides in being the first in many fields and areas of society. The United States is a diverse nation made up of many races, Native-American; African-American; Caucasian; Hispanic; Asian and other ethnic backgrounds; but because of the discrimination still present, significant accomplishments among minority groups is still applauded. Such successes are even more important in the South, where Jim Crow laws prevailed; and where there is still an underlying current of discrimination.
Jaime Harrison, 37 was born to an unwed teen-age mother and raised by his grandmother in Orangeburg, SC. He did not let the obstacles from his past hold him back from accomplishing success in the professional and personal aspects of his life. If anything the struggles from his childhood helped propel him to success. He is one of many people who show by example, it is not where you come from but where you choose to go in life.
Personally, I am doing better in life than my parents. I am still seeking and striving to achieve various goals but I know that with focus, hard work, and help from others I have the potential and ability to achieve. No matter how far from a goal you may be as long as you have breath, you have hope for success.