Breaking down racism

I’ve seen the responses of those caucasians who haven’t the heart for what they see today. They are sick of it and wish it would all go away. My people have wished it would all go away for 400 years now, and that we could find true equality in the country that we helped build and that we fought for in every war of this nation that we shed our own red blood for.

Here’s a little history of my family that I want to share:

My great, great grandfather, Robert Shepherd (Sheppard) was born 1835 in Virginia, 4 years after the Nat Turner uprising in Virginia! By 1870, Robert Shepherd lived in Brandywine, Mississippi during the Civil War. He was approximately 30 years old when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. He was a slave for more than 30 years! His son who is my great grandfather, was born about 1867-1870; 3 years after SLAVERY ended!

When I think about BLACK LIVES MATTER, I reflect on the history of my OWN relatives and of what they had to endure and what they succumbed to just to survive. They were classified as property, they don’t have the same sense of family as white folk, even though our female ancestors raised white children including nursing and caring for them. I think of the heartbreak of sweet, sweet babies almost taken from their mother wombs and sold as property to some other slave owner, leaving a mother and father to spend the rest of their lives wondering about their innocent, beautiful children and if they were alive and how they were fairing. I hate to think of the beautiful, shapely young pre- teen and teen girls who were used as breeding stock and for the sadistic and perverted pleasures of the slave masters.  I’m sick of racism in all its forms; but it still exists and God in Heaven knows that it’s wrong, as well as those who dare to think that they alone are human and privileged to human rights.

There have been protests for a little more than a month and certain people are sick of it. The sin of slavery and the stink of racism has been plaguing our country for 401 years. I wonder if others are as sick of that as I am.

God in Heaven, we need You.





I think I stopped being so afraid as a young teen during the riots of 1967 because I saw my daddy begin to relax. It just stands to reason that after several days of him standing watch on the porch, particularly at night praying that his home and neighborhood wouldn’t go up in flames and nothing so disastrous happened, he calmed down.  We were blessed that our neighborhood remained in tact.

Riot - written on white background

Even after the riots ceased, my father and mother talked about it, but they never condemned the actions of the rioters and looters, too much.  I looked back when I got older and when I began to know the history of my father’s childhood and young adulthood, I understood.

I shared it once before that my daddy was called Charlie as a youth. He worked for the white man doing work as he was told to. The man had a son, who was cruel and decided to play an evil joke on my daddy.  As my daddy was working,  the employer’s son found snakes and kept throwing them at my dad. Even my dad’s employer told his son to stop doing that; but he didn’t stop. My dad got tired of it and he beat the boy up and left.

Well, the concerned citizens came to my grandmother’s house looking for Charlie to “talk” to him. My daddy wasn’t home. So in courageous fashion those concerned citizens beat my grandmother, an old woman, and his sister, who was a young girl. While they were beating up my grandmother and my aunt my daddy came through the back door of their house. My daddy didn’t use a gun; he used a knife.  All the time if he had a weapon, it was a knife. He got to his house as those concerned citizens were beating his mother and sister. Daddy came in the back door and then he left out the back door. Nuf said.


Dr. King said that “rioting is the language of the unheard.”

When all else fails, act out. But let’s consider a few things as we sit in judgement or in sympathy of the current crisis:

  1. Have you ever had to look at your precious, precious children, boys in particular, and with a heavy heart tell them at such young ages what to do if you are ever stopped by the police. I had to tell an 11-year old 6th grader those words. I told him so that he would learn that life isn’t fair and that there are those who hate him just because of the color of his skin. There are those who hate because they are intimidated by you and afraid of you I explained. Why? I couldn’t really answer that question.  All I know is that hs is the such a gift and I love him with all my heart.
  2. Have you ever taught your son to not walk too close to a parked vehicle because someone might think that he’s stealing it? He was 10 years old when I nearly fainted as he was walking in front of me into a store. He paused, not stopped, but paused just to look at the cool car. My heart nearly stopped and I yelled to him, “Get away from that van!” When we got into the store I was weak holding onto the shopping cart for strength as I thought of what could have happen.  Fear paralyzed me. I COULDN’T BREATHE!  I explained to him the reason for my warning. It hurt.
  3. Remember the little cap guns and caps that children used to play with? We never bought our grandson or any of the children toy weapons for fear they’d be killed by the police or a person full of hatred.  A policeman got out of a car in one American city and never said a word, he just shot a 12-year old boy dead who was playing with a toy gun. We don’t want that to happen to him.

My little boy came home with a blueberry muffin for me for Mother’s Day, just like any other child would. At school he decorated a pen and put a flower on the tip of it. I still have that pen. He makes me laugh just any little child does to those who love him. Once I told him, “Now when you finish fixing your lunch and eating it, get the clothes out of the dryer and fold them and put them up. Then I want you vacuum the floor.” He looked at me in consternation and said, “Mom, I can’t do all this work. I have to cook.” He had to open up a can of ravioli and put in a bowl and heat in the microwave for 55 seconds. That was cooking for him and he was serious. I laughed about that for a long time.

Many of our sons and brothers and husbands who made us laugh just like everyone else, we’ve had to bury and the killers are never brought to justice. What are we to do? Lick our wounds and crawl back home?  Never! Would you do that?

More tomorrow.

Oh yes, let me tell you about my grandson.



Grandmother on her way to church.

Grandmother on her way to church.

Grandmother Lucy Payne

Hiding from the camera.








This is my dad’s mother, Lucy Ann Payne. One of my sisters is named after her. In the picture with her standing on her way to church, you can see Aunt Lucy Mae in the background. In the picture where she is hiding her face from the camera, that little boy is my older brother. (You’ll meet him, too). So this picture was from about 1950 or 1951.

If Aunt Lucy Mae was born in 1926 or 1927, my grandmother was born approximately 1897. Her husband’s name was Will Payne. I never saw even a picture of my grandfather. And oddly, I never met my grandmother in person before she died in 1963. I only have these pictures of her and what we learned that was passed down by word of mouth. A great woman, she was.

Go with me:

  • Her husband died in his early 40s.
  • She bore and raised at least 11 children
  • She buried many of her children
  • She was beaten by white men more than once
  • She was driven from her farm and land
  • She had to settle somewhere else in Florida so that she and her two children could live
  • She had memories of her dead sons hanging from the end of nooses
  • She never saw all of her grandchildren, just a few of them
  • She smiled in the picture above, anyway

A woman of strength is a formidable person to reckon with.

Also, the Scriptures say in Proverbs 31:30 “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.”

I honor you today Grandmother. More tomorrow



Roy Lee Payne, Sr. aka Charlie Leroy Payne

Roy Lee Payne, Sr. aka Charlie Leroy Payne

Say Hello to my dad, Roy Lee Payne Sr. He grew up in Florida and his real name at that time was Charlie Leroy Payne. He changed it after a time.  Daddy passed away on Veterans Day, November 11, 1987 at the age of 66. He had a heart attack and when my mom found him, he was just laying back on the bed.

Growing up in Florida in the early 1920s and 30s was difficult for African-Americans to say the least. My dad, I came to believe, was a victim of those times and it translated into him being a cruel man most of his young life, as a father, and dad. No matter. Maybe if I had seen and experienced the things he did, I might have morphed into someone other than who I am now.

My dad only had a 3rd grade education and could only really write his name. I believe that is why he was so adamant that all of his 7 children complete high school. We all did and went further in our education and careers.

I remember a time when my dad got his first real good paying job, one that could have brought his family up a notch, if his mind had been on them. Like most people, he could do the job masterfully, but because of the 50s and 60s and the lack of rights for black men, the establishment used every tactic to get rid of him and other black men working as skilled tradesmen. It didn’t matter that white men worked as skilled tradesmen during that time and that many of them couldn’t even sign their names. They literally made an “X” on a line and someone who could write witnessed it. These men didn’t have to get their skills validated by reading a detailed text book, about 300 pages long and do the assignments in them and turn them in. Only my dad and others of his “persuasion” had to. My dad couldn’t read well, at all. So when he cursed and threw the book in the floor and stomped away saying he could get another  job, my mom picked up the book and with her 9th grade education she read the lessons, did his homework for him; he copied it down in his own writing and turned the work in. To the chagrin of his superiors, my dad got his skilled trades certificate and license and worked at that job until he retired. Family is important, don’t forget that.

As a teen and young adult, he saw things that made him very private about his life. He never talked about it. My mom and my aunt, his sister would relay things about his family history from those early years. For instance, as a young teen he was on the chain gang. We don’t know why. He was a marine as a young adult and served in the Korean War, a war not many Korean vets talk about. Neither did he.  He and some of his friends were walking home in the evening after working their jobs in the south where they lived. When they separated to go to their various destinations, some white men came and for no reason beat up one of his dear friends, and killed him. They put him on the railroad tracks for the train to run over him, but when the train came, it was moving very slowly and was able to stop before striking his friend’s corpse. Another time, while working for another white boss, the boss’s two sons kept throwing snakes on him. The boss told the sons to leave “Charlie” alone. They didn’t. They kept up this cruel game until my dad had had enough. He beat up both of the boys. Later, of course, a group of “interested parties” came to his mom’s home and wanted to “talk” to him about beating up two white boys. My grandmother didn’t tell them where he was. In traditional manner, during those times, they beat her and my aunt. What they didn’t know was my dad was coming through the back door with his knife. When it was all over, he left out the back door. Nuf said.

Daddy maintained a rough exterior that kept anyone from getting in. That is my one regret. I don’t know anything about being a ‘Daddy’s girl’. More tomorrow.