The person I interviewed was my father, Timothy Oglesby. Mr. Oglesby is 68 years and was born on the side of the road in Cheneyville, Louisiana. Cheneyville at that time was known for sharecropping and had vast farmlands. My father and his mother actually lived in Alexandria, Louisiana, in which they stayed there for about six years.
My father states that his father was in the army at the time and bought a house in Alexandria before leaving for the service. He says that once his father was discharged out of the service, he moved everyone to Los Angeles. Mr. Oglesby explains that the reason for the move was that his dad disliked the south because of the ongoing process of racial segregation.
Mr. Oglesby explains that even though he lived in Los Angeles he would travel to see his family when he was a child. Unfortunately, the older he became the angrier he got because of the continuous racial division that was happening in the south. He eventually stopped going to Louisiana when he was sixteen years old.
My father basically lived on the eastside of Los Angeles and then moved to Compton, CA. He resided in Compton, CA till he was 17 years old. He talks about how it was very different back then when it came to the social economic point of view. Growing up in the city, he explains that Black males had more pride and respected themselves. In the city people had jobs; they were more religious and were community oriented. The city was an attraction for people coming from the south because they had more job opportunities and better education.
Mr. Oglesby later exclaims, “The community started to change when Blacks were segregating themselves from each”. He explains that it was the Blacks vs. Uncle Toms. Also, political and civil movements began to arise during that time. Black America was searching for a positive outlook towards their culture. Everyone wanted change from the racism that had accumulated in Black America.
Furthermore, my father was a member of the Black Panther movement that originally started in 1966. He wanted to make a change for the good in his neighborhood. Being part of the group really influenced him to really help out within his community and understand the true purpose of the group. He describes the group as a “militant revolutionaries”, in which attracted his interest towards improving the image in the Black communities.
I then asked him the question about if he was in the service and how did racism take part while he was in the service. Mr. Oglesby responded saying that there was a lot of racism within the service. He didn’t voluntarily go to the service, but instead he was drafted into the army. He worked as an aircraft assembler before he was drafted. His real dream was to attend a university. Once he was in the army, he was stationed in Oklahoma, where he experienced the most racism. Furthermore, Mr. Oglesby replies: “the Black sergeants were the worst because they felt like they had a complex and needed to impress the white man”.
There was also the difference in status and superiority within the army. For example, the Blacks from the southern states were more inferior because they were primarily subjected to the lifestyle of being segregated. He says, “The Blacks from the city were harder to “break’ because of the influence and cultural standpoint they had growing up in the city. Ironically, the U.S. soldiers were the most prejudice while in the service.
For example, when he was stationed in Germany, the people there wasn’t prejudice towards other Blacks at all. They were more prejudice towards White U.S. soldiers because some of them came into the service with their racist views. He then explains that later he was stationed upon the Iron Curtain during WWII.
I asked Mr. Oglesby about what do you think the greatest accomplishments of the civil rights movement? He responded by saying “that it was finally some changes being made, and that it open a lot of people’s eyes”. He explains that the movement opened a lot of people’s eyes because everyone was realizing that racism cannot go on forever. Essentially, eyes were open towards America’s contradictions towards equality. Social security and other services that originally were for White people started to become available for minorities also.
I then asked him about how he felt about our current president, Barack Obama. He responds quickly told me that he loves Obama greatly. He explains that Obama represents change within the Black nation. He says, “We finally have a president that we can relate to”. He also says that Obama has opened up doors for other non white presidents too. In his eyes, Obama is a historical symbol that represents physical proof of change in the Black nation.
My reflections on the interview were very memorable. Mr. Oglesby provided a lot of valuable information towards Black male masculinity. Primarily, his childhood consisted on survival and integrity. Growing up as a Black male in the 1940s and 1950s, you had to be strong and confident within yourself. The idea of masculinity for a Black male during that time wasn’t about how much money you had or how many women you can have sex with; it was about having respect for yourself and others. If you couldn’t respect yourself, how can you respect other people around you? I noticed that it was an obligation for a Black male to take care of his family and to obtain a higher education. It was a priority to be a positive role model for the youth of the community.
My father had to grow up fast as a child and had to contribute to the family. He had to become the “man of the house” when his father left. He basically had to go to school and support the family with odd jobs to make ends meet. He even suggested that his mother didn’t work because it was his duty to take care of the family. Throughout his life, he never blamed anything on his father when he left, because he took on the role of his dad. His masculinity was taking responsibility and sacrificing the things he wanted to take care of his own.
This interview clearly shows that the Black male stereotype of masculinity is truly false. I learned a lot of what a Black male should be just from interviewing my father. Masculinity is being able to cope with the life that is given to you and to have a positive attitude towards who you are rather than what you are not.