My grandfather passed away on October 7, 2014. I don’t talk about it as much, but I believe it’s important to talk about my process.
Grieving can be a rough spot. I think especially in the black community. Historically speaking; during slavery, black people in the U.S. were not afforded the luxury to deal with extreme hurt or pain. We can often times struggle with either releasing those feelings or suppressing them. I’ve come to the conclusion if we choose not to express our grief it can be detrimental to our health.
My grandfather taught me a lot but I would say these are my top 3:
Always be a man. No matter what obstacle, adversity, or financial hardship, you must ALWAYS be a man.
Stand up for what’s right! I got my sense of justice from him. Growing up in the Jim Crow south, surviving the Great Depression, marching in the Civil Rights Movement, and fighting to desegregate Eau Claire, MI are just a few examples of how he implemented change.
Strong work ethic. If you don’t work, you don’t eat. You can do whatever you want to do, but you must hold your own weight.
During my low moments when I think about him I choose to laugh. I reflect on those priceless memories. I often laugh about his down south mannerisms that never left even after moving to Michigan.
My grandfather had nine children, one of them being my mother. My grandfather was a provider who made sure his wife, and his family was well taken care of. I stand on this land today as a sense of pride and respect for the man from the deep south that had less than a 4th grade education, and how he secured over 10 acres of land. My grandfather knew the importance of leaving a legacy behind, and no one can take this land from us.
I can never repay him for the invaluable advice, guidance, and love. Every black man needs a strong male figure in his life, and that’s exactly what he was to me. I thank God for allowing me to spend 30 years of my life with the one and only Rev. Milton P. McAfee.