In watching the latest news, I was reminded of the book, “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry. I read Wikipedia’s description of where the story line came from and learned that the real story was based on Hansberry’s family story when they bought a house in Washington, D.C., in about 1937. The owner of the house wanted the money from the sale of the house, however, his wife brought a lawsuit (Hansberry vs. Lee, 1940), to enforce the restrictive covenant in force at the time that said White folks couldn’t sell to Black folks.
The law was clear and the White neighbors, so filled with fear and hatred felt they were in their full rights and paraded around the Hansberry house, screaming at them to move. They spat on them, called them names, and just wanted them to go away. Ironically, I am currently reading James Clyburn’s book, “Blessed Experiences”, and he is amazed that as a Black student at South Carolina State College, protesting the segregation of South Carolina, including the lunch counters, the police would arrest the Black students for disturbing the peace, when it was the Whites who were the one disturbing the Black students’ peaceful efforts. They screamed racial epithets and battered them while Blacks peacefully tried to get a sandwich and get a cup of coffee. Who is disturbing the peace? Guess who went to jail. Clyburn’s book reminds me that we also picketed Kress’ stores in Bakersfield, California. I remember picketing but never getting arrested. In his book he also makes a point of how after the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling, Blacks who worked for the State of North Carolina would lose their jobs if it was discovered that they were members of the NAACP.
Growing up in Bakersfield, I remember that our family had to keep our Buick out of the sight of my dad’s job. He would have lost his job, if he appeared to be “doing good” financially. We learned, very early, to compartmentalize our lives early to survive. They never knew what we had, parked outside, or inside our house, unless they followed us home or to our church. Donald Sterling could learn a thing or two from being raised Black.
With the Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Republican governors who are trying to stop Blacks from voting, they are wasting your money. We are going to vote if it takes another civil rights struggle, led by Reverend Barber of North Carolina and others to come along. They think we all are following Beyonce and Jay-Z, however, many of us are following Reverend Barber and his “MORAL MONDAYS” movement.
We have always been duplicitous in our lives. In reviewing “A Raisin in the Sun”, it was stated that Ms. Hansberry’s mother patrolled the house with a German luger (gun), while her father went to court to fight for their house. My mother taught us by example that working for yourself far outweighs the fruits of working for someone else. Daddy’s job provided security and the family’s economic base, while Mama’s second hand store gave us the “good life.”
I was struck by the fact that Congressman James Clyburn’s father had a small church and his mother had a beauty shop. She returned to school to get a Bachelor’s Degree and a teaching credential. She hung them on the wall of the beauty shop and continued to “do hair” and gave the family a good life with the opportunities that opened up in her beauty shop. Again, the parallels are clear between Handsbury’s family, Clyburn’s family and my family. My mother rented me a small barber shop when I was age twenty. Barbering took me from the security of cutting hair through law school, while making sure that my family enjoyed a good life.
The basic lessons are clear. Emulate good historical examples such as the Clyburn’s, the Hansberry’s and, yes, the Hopkins’ and others who followed a basic pattern for getting to the good life. It all starts with family loyalty, sticking together, and a plan for the children to get an education for a career and having a Plan B such as a skill to fall back on. The result: success!