A Time For Change

May 29, 2009
By Leeann Grigsby BRONZE, Eastlake, Ohio
Leeann Grigsby BRONZE, Eastlake, Ohio
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

I have a story to tell like many of my kind. The harsh punishments, always coming in last, never being appreciated. Times have changed over a period of time, but in our souls, it will always stay the same.

Unlike the rich and white in America, I am an African American. My family faced the same struggles, as did many. We fought for our rights. Back before we had our rights, we had to sit in the back of the bus and work on low income. You couldn’t even look at a white with out getting in trouble, the police where always on your trail. It didn’t matter whether you did anything or not, they would go after you. My mother raised four brothers and me after my father was killed in a brawl against the whites. I did most of the work while mother tried to bring revenue into the house to keep us fed. It was hatred. Even though in the Constitution it clearly states the freedom of speech, we didn’t have it. Whites think they have it tough, they should live a day as one of us.

Who am I you may ask? Why I am Kenya Brown. Raised by my mother, Cynthia. We lived in a small house on the east side of Detroit. It was hard, being the only blacks on the street, not being able to look at a single soul. Going for a walk outside was terror to. You had to walk with your eyes facing the ground. God help you if you hit a white. You would get sent straight off to jail, with no court appearance.

My father was killed on November 16 1905. He was in line at the supermarket when it happened. A drunken white pulled a gun on him because he was black. He had no time to respond. It was just BAM!!!! No one noticed either. They just stepped over him like some area rug in the fancy rich homes. You barley saw a black outside before dark, unless they were young and going to school. You couldn’t even look at your own teacher. Most of the time, they would put you in the hallway and listen. My father was close to my teacher though. She didn’t mind blacks at all. She was a white, but didn’t seem to mind. She lived on the saying that all where born with equal rights. The drunk that killed my father happened to be my teacher’s husband. He thought she’d been seeing my father and got one good shot at him. My father was a great man, just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was hard to see such a graceful and peaceful man go at such a young age.

Things got so bad in the summer of 1906. Blacks got laid off from work, more got punished and we could return to our studies in the fall either. It was that bad. I met a nice boy too. He was a white, which didn’t help me any. His name was Roger. His father and mother had all the power over Detroit. They were considered the richest of them all. Well Roger and I had gotten along great that summer. That is until; one white woman was playing with her young at the park and noticed Roger and I. She reported us and got me sent to a camp. I, only being 10 let me go on warning. Luck me, they never did that.

Mother was very disappointed in me when I returned. She wouldn’t talk to me for days. One morning, she left for work while me and my siblings sat at home. Then the worst of all nightmares came. She was gone. Someone took our mother right out of our hands. We had no one left. None of us where old enough to look after ourselves. Since no one could take care of us, we got sent away. Back to Africa with us. Working in the fields all day under the hot sun is really what we wanted to do. It was hard but we managed for the first year.

In July of 1910, my family had been torn apart. I was now 14 and my brothers trailed behind. I was now considered a woman. We were allowed back into America. I bought us a home in Michigan and managed to get along. My eldest brother and I worked all day. At night we went out for food and supplies. We gathered as much as we could so we didn’t have to go out often. Then the next morning, the most glorious thing happened to our country. Martin Luther King Jr. made his voice heard.

He tried to change the racial views of not only Americans, but also everyone in the world. He tried to make it heard that not only a white man can stand in front of people and speak his mind. He wanted change. He wanted it now.

He was the type of man that wanted everyone to love one another, to be happy. That was a hard task because whites thought they were superior above all the rest and everyone else was considered animals. I know that since I am black, I will be treated horribly due to racism. Racial slurs are always said towards us blacks, but god if you said something bad to a white man, he’d have you killed faster than you can apologize.

Over the years we suffered, MLK could only change the views of some but not all. He was assassinated and yet we are still inferior to the white. We know that as long as we keep fighting we can change one day and hopefully that one day, my family will be reunited.

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