Trying to make ends meet during those times took a toll on my mother whose health was worsening. However, working those various jobs gave me a sense of self worth. And I wanted to show folks that Blacks could achieve just like everyone else. My academic prowess had preceded me to high school. And it was a good thing it did.

Some of us boys had gotten caught taking some grapes from the yard of a wealthy white citizen. That sort of thing was often done in those days as a matter of course. But the judge thought that a smart, spirited, poor Black boy like me would be better off learning a trade under lock and key.

They were going to send me to reform school. But my principal, Mr. Frank Hosmer, stood up for me and I only received a stern admonition.

That incident really disturbed me and taught me a valuable lesson about what many whites thought about Blacks.


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