Feb. 8, 2024

I am Living Black History

by Otis Lee Rodgers (author's profile)



I was born a "Black Nationalist". I was diagnosed at the age of 16 as a "Black Nationalist" by a Kent State University psychologist, Milton E. Wilson, Jr., Ph.D., albeit, termed as:

The following report is based upon my study of Otis Rodgers: "This tall, Proud Negro youth... appearance was characterized by a neatness and reflecting favorable self regard... with a strong interest in CIVIL RIGHTS and Pride in being a Negro... with a heightened RACIAL CONSCIOUSNESS."

I am a septuagenarian, a sixties "Black Panther" and a Civil and Human Rights Advocate. Not only am I Living Black History; I am a force in shaping Black History, I stand 4-squares against American Racism, Discrimination, Bigotry, and Injustice of any and all types...

My parents were atypical, semi-illiterate, southern born, from grossly impoverished, illiterate, poor sharecroppers; Manual Laborers, non-political, devout superstitious and religious; who knew and stayed in their place in racially segregated America.

1) I was first introduced to America's racism during the mid-fifties at 8-eight years of age in our poor segregated black ghetto on the east side of Cleveland. In our black ghetto, there was only one poor white family, our next-door neighbor. Our neighbor had a white daughter about my age. There was a fence separating our property. When Susie's father would leave for work, Susie would come over to the fence near our property and we'd talk and play until she thought it was time for her father to come home; and then she'd either go in the house or go and play by herself in the center of her yard and discontinue all conversation with me. One day Susie's father came home early and "caught us" talking and playing. He, in a very angry voice, ordered her to come inside, and she immediately began to cry and as soon as she got near him, he slapped her hard and then swatted her behind. That was the end of our relationship. At that age I didn't understand it; and my mother brushing it off stated that I should not try to play with her since her father didn't want her playing with colors.

2) AGAIN, during 1957 at the age of nine, while traveling with my handicapped, polio-ridden, college degreed (Tuskegee) Uncle through Nashville, Tennessee. We were pulled over by a local white Police Officer. The Officer inquired of my Uncle how much money he had. My uncle gave the white man his billfold, the officer took half, instructing my uncle to drive safely and have a nice trip. a) Now knowing that this was a shakedown, strong-arm robbery, of course my southern-born uncle was too afraid to say anything or complain, knowing full well the Rules of the JIM CROW south; and the risk of complaining against a white man and definitely against a white policeman, that would have been a kiss of death. The robbery was a cheap price to pay for his safety to continue on unscathed.


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