“An Interview with Gene Wright, Sr.” by Kieth Wright

The person that I chose to help me complete my Elder Blog assignment was my grandfather Gene Wright Sr. I chose my grandfather because he exemplifies an alternative type of masculinity than what we hear about in popular culture.

Interview between myself and my grandfather Gene Wright Sr:

 ME: So Mr. Wright Where did you grow up at?

GENE: I grew up right here in Fresno Ca, been here 70 years and I plan to stay the rest of my years.

ME: Tell me about how it was growing up, like in your teenage years.

GENE: Well I graduated from Edison High School in 1960 when I was 17 years old. At 18 your grandmother and myself got married and started our family. I met your grandmother at 13 and we had been together throughout high school, she was my high school sweetheart. Back in my day we worked, my parents didn’t have money for college like you do (speaking to me).

ME: So what was your first job as an 18-year-old workingman with a wife and a kid?

GENE: My first job was working with my father. My father worked on cars, did yard work, washed windows, painted houses; he was an all around man.

ME: What did you learn from him when you were working with him as a young adult?

GENE: My father taught me work ethic; he would work 2 and 3 jobs a day, sun up until sundown and never complained. He never took a day off he worked every damn day to take care of us.

ME: So when did you start working at Rainbow?

GENE: I started working at Rainbow in 1974. I worked that bakery for 26 years until I retired in 2000.

ME: That’s more years then I’ve been alive. So what do you think about this generation of kids?

GENE: Kids have it easy these days. You guys have all types of programs and resources but don’t take advantage of them. Kids are lazy nowadays, they don’t even like to go to school anymore.

ME: I see where you’re coming from. What’s different about your generation compared to mine?

GENE: Boys used to fight in my day, then shake hands and go home and ill see you tomorrow. Nowadays you have boys have guns, you guys don’t go to church and most of you are just lazy. It’s much different nowadays.

ME: What’s your definition of masculinity?

GENE: Taking care of business, taking care of your family. Most importantly don’t be afraid to be YOU.

ME: Do you think blacks have a harder time than others?

GENE: Yes, that’s not even a question. As a Black man prepare for a life of stress (laughs). But by knowing that, you know it requires you to work 2 times as hard as anyone else. You have to.

ME: If you could change one thing what would it be?

GENE: Nothing, struggling made me strong. Always remember that God’s favorites have a hard time. Read the book of Job and you’ll get a different perspective on struggle.

ME: Anything else?

GENE: Don’t waste time. You don’t have much time to waste while you’re here. Use your opportunities and take advantage of your resources.

By watching my grandfather all my life I developed a different viewpoint on Black men. Now that I am older and understand all the things a Black man has to go through, I can appreciate how strong my grandfather really is. He showed me an example of masculinity that goes against the stereotypes that have plagued Black men forever.

The Sambo stereotype says that Black men are lazy, child like and basically have no purpose in life. My grandfather counteracted the Sambo stereotype because before he retired from work he was the exact opposite of lazy. He worked six days a week, never called in sick or took days off from being too tired. He was able to take care of his family in a legal way. He didn’t have to sell drugs or do other things to provide for his family he just worked hard.

The Brute stereotype describes Black men as hyper-aggressive, hypersexual and unintelligent. My grandfather countered the stereotype of the Brute also; he showed me that all men do not take advantage of women. My grandfather and grandmother were together for 5 years before marriage and were married for 45 years until my grandmother passed away in 2006. All 4 of their children are of the same mother and father and I never heard of my grandfather having affairs with other women. That alone sets him apart from most men because there’s a very small population of Black men who can say that they were with the same woman for 50 consecutive years. My grandfather also counters the Brute stereotype because he’s far from unintelligent. He was able to maintain a job for 26 years, maintain a 50-year marriage and was able to raise his children to become the people that we are today.

The third stereotype that my grandfather counters is the stereotype of the coon. The coon is described as an Uncle Tom, a sellout or as entertainment for whites. I believe my grandfather counters the coon stereotype because he doesn’t try to live up to what others want him to be. He does what he feels is best for his family and his situation. He’s very proud to be a Black man, and embraces his blackness. I think that’s where I developed my spirit of Black pride. 

If I had to sum up my grandfather in one word I would call him consistent. I chose consistent because as a young adult he had the same personality that he has now as a 70 year old man.

Interview Final – Quincey Penn

    Eugene Philip Morris was born May ninth,1957 to Johnny F Morris and Sally B Morris at the Loma Linda Hospital in San Bernardino, California. Mr. Morris was a part of a unique family as he was the youngest of eight children but only two were his fully biological siblings. His mother Sally Morris met her husband Johnny Morris with already being a mother of five children, and together produced three more children including Mr. Morris.  The unique situation about his family is that his older siblings were significantly order than him which affected his relationship with his brothers and sisters.  He actually had a strong bond with his nieces and nephews due to the fact that they were close in age with his siblings being so much older than him.  Five of his brothers and sisters were already moved out of the house during his childhood, and he mainly grew up with his older twin biological sisters.  This prevented Mr. Morris from creating a close bond with all of his siblings until his adult life, but his family still was able to maintain a loving relationship.  A big memory that Mr. Morris has is spending all of the holidays together.  His mother Sally always did the cooking and his entire family would come over to their house.  Family was very important as they would have family reunions every year alternating from being in Los Angeles and San Bernardino.  The lesson of family being essential was learned at an early age for Mr. Morris.    

            Mr. Morris lived his childhood in a very interesting time period with the civil rights movement being in effect.  Mr. Morris attended Muscot Elementary School in San Bernardino during the desegregation era of the schooling system.  The desegregation era was the time period of white only schools starting to combine and allow colored kids to attend, which ignited an aggressive revolt from the white people in fight to keep their schools segregated.  Mr. Morris father, Johnny, was heavily involved with the NAACP in San Bernardino, and wanted his son to attend the best school as possible which happen to be an all-white school on the Eastside of San Bernardino.  Mr. Morris usually attended school on the Westside of San Bernardino, which consisted of the non-white children but majority blacks. When Mr. Morris entered the new profound white school, he quickly ran into obstacles that he would have to overcome to be successful in this new system.  Before entering into Muscot Elementary, Mr. Morris was in the top of his class at the predominate black school, and when beginning at the white predominate school system, he quickly noticed the completely different curriculum which made it difficult to keep up.  There were two different types of education from the Westside of town then the white Eastside of town.  When entering Middle School at Golden Valley which was also located on the Eastside of San Bernardino, racial struggles became more intense.  At this time more Black students enrolled into predominate white schools which did not sit well with the white community.  Mr. Morris had to deal with schools being boycotted by the white community not to allow the Black kids into the school, and also the white students would use racial slurs and threats to break down the Black students.  Mr. Morris was involved in many fights due to those exact reasons, and he commented that he did not lose one.  But with this struggle, Mr. Morris became a stronger individual by pushing through all the adversity inside the classroom and out.  A vital part to his overcoming of adversity was largely due to his support of his family and guidance of his father.      

Mr. Morris father, Johnny Morris, was born and raised in Newton Texas and left at age eight-teen to join the Navy and eventually settled in Los Angeles, California.  Johnny settled down with Sally in west San Bernardino and began to add on to their family.  During Mr. Morris childhood, his father worked as tax repayer and did tax services for over thirty years along with his side profession as a barber.  Mr. Morris learned many things from his father like the meaning of hard work and how to take care of a family.  Mr. Morris learned the meaning of what it took to be a man through examples that his father Johnny had set fourth for him and his family.  Mr. Morris learned hard work through the work ethic of his father; out of those thirty years providing tax paying services, he did not miss one day of work.  That placed a strong emphasis on Mr. Morris to work hard every day, because a man as responsibilities that he needs to take care of such as a family.  Mr. Morris remembers his father being one of the hardest working men he has ever seen who allowed him to have childhood where he and his siblings were supplied all of their needs.  This emplaced the importance of hard work being essential in taking care of a family in Mr. Morris mind.  Mr. Morris remembers being the first family in his whole neighborhood with a color television, and always getting new cars every few years and he understood what that he would want to carry on comfortable living circumstances for his family also.  Mr. Morris also witness some destructive moments of his father which heavily impacted him.  Mr. Morris father was a highly functioning alcoholic, and smoked a lot of cigarettes.  This influenced Mr. Morris by having him also starting to drink at the young age of thirteen, and continued into his adulthood.  He also picked up on his fathers’ smoking habits.  These were both things that Mr. Morris felt were apart of manhood until he realized those were not objectives that he wanted to pass down to his kids.

Another dyer entity that Mr. Morris learned from his father was the proper way to treat women through how his father treated his mother Sally.  He treated her as a queen, and in return Sally treated Johnny as a king, and this allowed Mr. Morris to recognize how women should treat a man.  Mr. Morris parents acted as a living sample of how men and women should treat each other, especially when their married and united as one.  Although Mr. Morris parents truly loved each other, Mr. Morris remembers that his father still had problems with showing it just as men today do.  He acknowledges his fathers’ lack of stating his love to his brothers and sister although they still knew their father loved them very much.  Along with the lack stating his love, affection in the way of a hug was also rare during Mr. Morris childhood.  These are some things that Mr. Morris wanted to do differently with children of his own, and to verbally and physically express his love to them. 

Mr. Morris is a fifty-five year “young” father of five, married man who has been working for the railroad for the past fifth-teen years.  Mr. Morris is a strong Black Christian man, who serves as a deacon and mentor to St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in San Bernardino.  Mr. Morris believes he made his mind and life transformation into being a real man at the age 27 due to having his first born child Ashley.  He believes this blessing forced him into becoming a provider for his child, and forced him to put someone else needs before his.  Mr. Morris and his first wife went on to have another daughter, Heather, but sadly concluded in divorce.  Mr. Morris fell in love with his second and current wife Janet Moore.  This was a unique family situation just as Mr. Morris’s childhood, Mr. Morris had two daughters and Janet had three sons.  Mr. Morris decided to become a dad and mentor to Janet’s three boys by marring Janet.  Accepting responsibility for three boys that are not even your own takes a lot of courage and strength to take on that job.  As he somewhat had the same situation with his mom having five kids prior to marrying his father, Mr. Morris had a man to look up to who took on the same responsibility.  The fact that he was able to witness what his father did first hand, ensured himself that he could do the same thing. This just goes on to show that children and especially boys look up to their fathers. 

Mr. Morris broke the trend of his father and would show love to his kids by hugging them and verbally express his love for his children.  The progressive man is not afraid to express his love for another man let alone another person; they understand it is okay for men to express feelings.  Another false belief that a hand full of men believe today is that a man has to do everything on his own and he cannot receive any help.  Mr. Morris believes a support system for a man is one of the biggest aids to maintaining the strength of a progressive man.  A support system will allow men to get through hard times.  Mr. Morris support system is his wife and the faith he has in God, and with these things he believes he can get through anything.  Mr. Morris understood that when things go wrong, it does not make us less than a man because men have to go through hard times to elevate who we are.  He is a strong believer in what does not kill you will only make you stronger.  The trials and tribulations that men go through are to test our character and to also build character.  For upcoming men, we need to realize that some changes take time, all the behaviors that we want to change will not happen overnight.  Men feel like failures when making the same mistake multiple times which is wrong, but we do need to be working towards eliminating those behaviors.  Prior to taking this class, I felt like I allowed others to dictate my manhood by trying to act in the ways that society says a man is supposed to be.  Mr. Morris ensured me that society does not define manhood, and as an upcoming man I cannot base what I do on what others do.  I should have my own standards of manhood and conduct in the manner that I believe a man should.  In asking Mr. Morris of a key component that a progressive man has, he stated a duty of his is to help and mentor the next generations so he can pass the torch of being a progressive Black man to the male youth in society today.  Mr. Morris is a counselor to the youth at his church, and mentors the young men in his family who do not have a strong father presence in their life.  In doing this interview with Mr. Morris, I felt a strong father/mentor presence from him which was very refreshing and comfortable.  This interview has allowed me to really see the value of a progressive man example that young men need, and I will utilize in Mr. Morris.                 

Bryant Gentle’s Journey from Home


Letisha Hardiman 

Dr. Johnson 

AFRS  130T

Tuesday-Thursday 12:30pm



   When initially given this assignment I knew that this would be the perfect opportunity to learn more about my family and culture, and to explain the background and relationship of my heritage with the African American culture. The man I decided to interview was my father Bryant Gentle. My father was born in Belize, and before getting into his life’s journey I believe it is important to first give some history on his country, which he takes much pride in. 

   Belize was first home to the Mayas and colonized by the British in 1840. It’s name then was “British Honduras”, but on September 21, 1981 it became an independent country and was then named “Belize”. Belize is now a very diverse country, being home to those of Mayan, Mestizo, Creole, Garifuna, and other descent. Belize also has a history of slavery that integrated those of African descent. Slaves were brought over from the Caribbean in the early 18th century. The Garifuna people of Hunduras were also of African descent. It is often that I am asked if my family and I are “technically” black. Perhaps this brief history will provide a explanation as to why my father’s story and contribution to his community is relevant to the African American culture. As he stated. “My skin is dark, so regardless of whether or not I was born here, I am black.” 

   On June 25th, 1956 Rosalind Gentle gave birth to Bryant Gentle in Belize City, Belize. The Belizean culture has a strict parenting style that has been passed on for many generations. Parents work extremely hard to instill a number of values that include respect at all times, a strong sense of pride, and a humble domineer. There was no exception in the way my grandmother, Rosalind raised my father. She provided him with the foundation needed to get out and accomplish what many of his peers could not. School in itself was a struggle, but there was also the violence and other negative barriers that pledged his community. Belizean parents worked together to raise their children and provide safety and security. “If we did something bad and an adult caught us, they would beat us and then tell our parents. Then we would get beat by our parents too”, my father said, as he gave an example of the “It takes a village to raise a child” mentality his mother had. He stated, “In Belize we had many parents, and you could be punished from school, to the neighbors house, and then again at home.” This was in fact the norm and believed to be a helpful method in keeping the youth in line. 

   As a child my dad attended school and took on a number of small jobs to earn money. Belize’s education system is very different from that of the United States. Primary school is broken into six standards. Unfortunately the high cost of education is a too much of a burden for many families. It is not uncommon for the youth in Belize to gear towards trades or labor work as a source of productivity and/or income. My father attended one of highest levels of education at Belize Technical College.

   In his teenage years my father was somewhat of a rebel. Becoming a father gave him a different perspective on things. Instead of continuing his life in the fast lane, he began to think of how his  lifestyle would effect his future and his children. As a young adult, my father made many mistakes that were not necessarily uncommon for young men his age. Considering the area in which he lived in, both in Belize and in the United States. He has always shared his experiences with me and urged me to make better decisions. 

   As most immigrants do, my father made his move to the United States, in 1981, in hopes of having better opportunities and a shot at a better life. The transition was not that easy. The American culture has a way of imposing assimilation on those who are not natives to it’s land. My father’s heavy accent automatically labeled him as different, foreign, and odd. “It was hard at first, getting use to how different things are here in the States. But then you come across a lot of folks from back home. It makes the transition less difficult”, he stated as he recalled the move to the U.S. When he moved to Los Angeles, where he now resides, he was shocked to see that there was a reasonable amount of Belizean that had established a small community with one another. 

   It was not long after that he too began to play a role in this community. He got involved with music and began to participate in the promotion of Reggea concerts and albums. He then began to DJ for local socials, and events for Belizeans in the Los Angeles area. This provided him an avenue to be a mentor to a few young men in the community. He was able to take advantage of little opportunities that were not as easy to come across back in Belize. He used is career as a DJ as an avenue to mentor. 

   My father’s story does not fit into the stereotypically idea of a black man. Not only was he able to over come many obstacles that others would have allowed to hinder them from success, he was also able to influence the next generation. His role as a mentor proved that African American males too could be a positive influence and role model. Black males today are automatically labeled as violent, aggressive, threatening, uneducated, and gang affiliated. These labels are even placed on African American males from those within the community. Along with the struggles of adapting and becoming accustomed to American culture, he had to fight against these stereotypes as well. He acknowledged the fact that he did at times play into them, but also believed that his circumstances in South Central was the primary factor.

   It wasn’t easy trying to make a living, living in a area like we do. South Central is a war zone and anyone living it is at risk of being caught up in the madness. Young men have it the hardest because gangs are always recruiting, They don’t care if you’re born here or not. We have gangs here with a lot of Belizeans, and they’ve taken the life style back home (Belize).

   In our class we discussed the concept of what it  is to be a man. Unfortunately our society tends to define masculinity with more negative aspect than positive. Many young men in the South Central area are constantly trying to prove their manliness through violent acts and other disruptive behavior. My father was able to stand tall and not allow those things to destroy the man, with strong values, his mother raised him to be. In many ways he exemplifies the progressive black male. He is aware of the realities of both black men and women in his community, and has worked towards executing the labels placed on us. He is progressive in that he does not play into the stereotypes. He is constantly showing young men in our community that it is possible to be a productive and well respected man without being any of the negative characters they are expected to be.

   I’m only human, and I’ve made lots of mistakes. But I am man enough to acknowledge that. I hope that someday it will all be worth it, because getting to where I’m at now was not an easy journey. But I know it was one of the best decisions I could’ve made, because my kids will have a better shot, and better opportunities than me.

The Last of a Dying Breed By Aaron “KC” Jones


Playing the role that someone has set forth for you is easy, however writing your own story is a much harder task. Often within the black community we look for leadership in trivial areas of interest or in the wrong places all together. However there are a scarce amount of individuals who embody what a role model should really be. The black male that I interviewed is Darryl Muhammad. What struck me strongest about Darryl Muhammad is his genuine belief in uplifting the community as a base of overall change for all of our endeavors. He doesn’t do community service as a resume builder, this is an everyday real life struggle for him.


Brother Muhammad was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania December 16, 1962. Growing up in single parent home he lived with his mother, one older sister, and three younger brothers. His mother worked for the department of mental health at the University of Pennsylvania while attending college. Brother Muhammad’s mother and father broke up and no longer lived together. Although he only cohabitated with his grandfather once for a small period of time, his grandfather was instrumental in raising him. Brother Muhammad holds his grandfather in high regard and explained how much he respected him and valued his opinion.


“I didn’t have a hard childhood,” said Brother Muhammad. Growing up he can recall only moving about twice within the same neighborhood that he already lived in. His family moved from a three-bedroom home, to a two-bedroom home, then once more too another two-bedroom home. Brother Muhammad said that he kept the same friends that he always had. “I didn’t fit in so well, like there was something else I should be,” said Brother Muhammad. His mother and sister shared one bedroom while he shared the other bedroom with his younger siblings. Brought up in a Christian home Brother Muhammad attended Sunday school and church regularly on Sundays.


Dissatisfied with the living conditions at home Brother Muhammad decided that he needed a change in his life. He decided to join the United States Navy. At the time of this life altering decision Brother Muhammad was only 16-years-old. Under the legal age to enter the military he lied on his application with hopes of leaving Philadelphia as soon as possible. Brother Muhammad’s plan was well underway and he began processing into the Navy. His momentum came to an abrupt holt when he was asked to produce a birth certificate. At this point Brother Muhammad found out two things. One was that he would need to wait until he was 17-years-old to get into the Navy. The second was that the man whom he thought was his father was not his father at all. His real father was killed in a car crash at the age of 26. He doesn’t know that side of his family, where they are, or even what they look like.

Once Brother Muhammad turned 17 with his mother’s permission he was allowed to finally enter into the Navy. While in the Navy he worked in aviation and traveled to places such as the Philippines, Japan, San Diego, and Great Lakes Il. During his active duty military service Brother Muhammad also earned a Business/Administration degree from Chapman University, got married and converted to the Nation of Islam. Discharged from the Navy via Lemoore Naval Station, Brother Muhammad decided to stay in the area embracing his wife’s hometown of Fresno California.


“I was a community activist as soon as I got here,” said Brother Muhammad. “The Honorable Louis Farrakhan said that it was my duty to share knowledge and make the community a decent place to live.” As a community activist Brother Muhammad facilitated the New Millennium Black Watch radio show, he is the current economic chair for the Black Political Council, and is currently in the planning phase of starting a financial literary course. Brother Muhammad said the community is all tore up because there are not enough community activists. He feels the key element to uplifting the community to a place of prosperity is unity.

The Merriam-dictionary defines community as a unified body of individuals. “We don’t even have a community,” said Brother Muhammad. “My primary role is to find a way to create the kind of community we need.” Brother Muhammad is a Student Minister in the Nation of Islam. All ministers in the Nation of Islam are referred to as “Student Ministers”. The concept behind the title is that even as a “minister” they are still students, growing, qualifying and learning every day. It’s his religious and personal position that the black community must help itself in order for blacks to thrive. Brother Muhammad said that the Honorable Louis Farrakhan says “that you must help self first”.

“Think about when someone tries out for a football team,” said Brother Muhammad. “You must be able to handle your position before you can help the rest of the team.” Brother Muhammad said that the black community needs to marshal their resources together because there is not one person out there that has all of the answers. It is his strong belief that the problems addressing the black community will be solved from the inside not the outside. “If we continue on our current path we will always be freed slaves,” said Brother Muhammad. “We need to stop asking business how many black people they hired. We need to feed, clothe and shelter ourselves, not beg at the door of the man who freed you. Then people will see us as civilized human beings.”

Brother Muhammad sales editions of the “Final Call” newspaper every week as a way to propagate the truth and his religion. The “Final Call” was founded by Louis Farrakhan. The newspaper is an official part of the Nation of Islam.  It is distributed once a week in North America, Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. Although he sales the paper on a weekly bases he has no intentions of gaining a profit.  “Selling the paper removes the fear of interacting with people,” said Brother Muhammad. “Black people are scared to interact with one another because we have become savages.  Although the main point of the paper is to get the word out, selling the paper also builds character, a sense of aim and purpose.” 

In addition to being a community activist, Nation of Islam Student Minister, and business owner, Brother Muhammad is a foster-parent.  He adopted four children, one of which currently has a child of their own making him a grandfather.  “There was a need for it,” said Brother Muhammad. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Education at Phoenix University.  In addition to furthering his education he also owns a day care center, and is pursuing agriculture business ventures.

The Black Male Elder Recognition Project was to document a figure who we thought embodied a different type of masculinity then what we see or hear in pop culture.  I think that Brother Darryl Muhammad is a pillar to the community.  It seems as if he is one of the last of a dying breed which has left the black community in its current state of affairs. 

A Progressive Mind by Kiani Shaw

Kiani Shaw

Afrs: 130T

May 15, 2012

Dr. Hasan Johnson

Black Elder Project

Interviewee: Dr. James Walton

Department: English

Dr. James Walton was born in Alabama but raised in Ohio, in a home that did not encourage an education. His parented divorced when he was 2 and he never had a male role model. His grandmother taught him how to read at the age of 3 in which from then on he had to sneak and read books. His mother remarried and he never had a good relationship with his stepfather. The stepfather not being able to read only had a grade school education and didn’t allow books in the home. He was never given lunch for school and how a brief allowance of 25 cents. Walton entered high school at the age of 12 and upon his graduation, things changed for Walton. A city champion in the 880-yard run in 1960, Walton was sure athletics would get him to college.

In an excerpt taken from an autobiographical article written by Dr. Walton, he says:

My grades were excellent, yet a partial scholarship to a local college was the only offer I received. So I gave up the idea of going to college. I graduated from high school at age 16 with no job prospects, no plan for further education and my allotted time to live at home had expired. The U.S. military offered the only hope, so I signed up for the Navy.

However, Walton’s view on education was changed when he met one man:

Two weeks prior to shipping out to Cleveland and eventually Viet Nam, I agreed to take my pastor’s place in a church play performed across town at a “white” church. After the play, I was downstairs trying to arrange a ride home when a foreigner who I didn’t know congratulated me on my role in the play and innocently asked, “How’s school going?”“School?” I responded with some indignation. “I graduated!” “Well, why aren’t you in college then?” the stranger shot back. I had no response to that impossibility. A week later I received a phone call. “You have been on my mind,” the stranger I’d met at the church said, “so I looked up your number.” We talked for several minutes then he asked to speak to my mother. As I feared, my mother mentioned to the stranger that I had signed up to join the Navy. This news spurred the caller into action. One week later, the stranger—having only met me once—called again to ask directions to my home. “I think I can get you into the college in Michigan that I attended,” he told me. “I’ll be at your house in about one hour. Can you be packed by then?”In sub-freezing temperatures and tall, drifting snow gusts, the stranger and I headed into the darkness toward a private university hundreds of miles away from Canton, Ohio in Berrien Springs, Michigan. I had not applied to attend the university. I hadn’t even taken the SAT or the ACT. Three dollars, left over from the five-dollar bill a relative had given me for graduation, was all I had to cover room, board and tuition. On the long, treacherous drive to Michigan, I learned that the stranger’s name was Dr. Joseph Nozaki, a young physician serving out his residency in a local hospital. He hadn’t slept for three days and was having difficulty staying awake. We stopped the car several times and ran in the snow to stay awake. During one of our runs around the car, he lost his wallet, but we decided to continue on to the university anyway.

Because of this man’s persistence, Walton completed his education and is now one of the most prominent members of the English department at Fresno State. Walton says he was disciplined in school, focused, and constantly studying to receive top grades. James Walton is an example of a progressive masculinity. Though his parents were discouraging, he prevailed against incredible odds. He understands that he has achieved a lot compared to the hegemonic masculinity that many men live up to. Walton says:

So many men I have known have be taken by silent killers: high blood pressure, diabetes, and prostate cancer (in which black men are hit hard by). They don’t have access to medical treatment thru proper employment and are less encouraged to take care of themselves medically.

It is important to understand why a healthy lifestyle is important for a man and Walton frequently checks his health. This is progressive because many men do not realize the impact of a constant doctor routine. They may let the costs out way the need. Also, something special about Walton is his motivation.

Walton: I understand the pressure but you got to be stronger and say no. You can’t be tempted by everything. Find 1 reason to keep going, there’s so many reasons not to.

This progressive attitude is an encouraging mindset that many young men do not benefit from. Just as Walton’s parents were, parents are not always encouraging. Walton encourages people to find motivation within themselves. Walton has inspired several young men by being there for them in their time of need. He has housed abandoned teens, provided monetary tributes to the tuition of a student, and advised BSU’s and other Africana boards. Walton is not only progressive in thought but in body.

A Profile of Captain Bernie Carter


Clay Crocket

Professor Johnson


Tuesday/Thursday 12:30pm



A Profile of Captain Bernie Carter


Captain Bernie Carter was born the eldest sibling of a family of 12 on January 1st, 1960. From the time he was a child he knew he was different and would excel in life. I am lucky enough to have met a man with so many accolades in his life, as well as to be able to call him family(he is my first cousin once removed on my mother’s side of the family).

Carter always had a strong work ethic and knew that from hard work and determination one could achieve anything. When I interviewed him I wanted to know where he felt his leadership abilities came from, “Well, I think I’m a natural leader, and that everyone is born with qualities for leadership, but I really credit my time playing sports for the development of my leadership skills. I worked hard learned how to be apart of a team, and what an important life skill that is.” 

And while he balanced school, and being an athletic star, he still managed to work, “I was a little hustler when I was a kid, I started working for my father when I was 12 or 13, you know little jobs… and when I was in high school, I drove a bus, but still made time for school and sports, but thats how I was raised. If you wanted something you worked hard for it, and if you committed yourself to something you gave it your all.”

A natural athlete Carter played any sport he could in high school. “I played football, basketball, ran track, I was a real jock.” He was so impressive he earned himself a football scholarship to the Citadel, one of the nation’s most prestigious military colleges located in Charleston, South Carolina.

I asked Carter what was college like for him, as a black man in the 1970’s, and if he was involved in any public or community service efforts back then, “Absolutely, when I went to the Citadel, there weren’t very many other black students, but it was the 1970’s and we had a little African-American club we were very involved with and very aware of what was going on within our community. Most of us were jocks, and there were a few of us who were just students, but we were a close nit bunch.” 

It was during this time that he met his lovely wife Bridget, “Well, we met in 1975, but we started dating in 1976.” And 36 years later she is his wife and mother of their 3 children, Justin, 28, Courtney, 26, and Adam, 24.

Carter was blessed enough to receive personal and professional growth alongside one another, from 1983 to 1990, his initial sea and shore rotations were as lead instructor for the Anti-Submarine warfare Commander’s course located at the Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare center in Norfolk, Va.; Fire Control and Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer, USS Yorktown (CG 48); and Main Propulsion Assistant on USS McCandless (FF-1084).  During these tours he completed deployments to the North Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean.

From July 1991 through May 1994, he served as Weapons and Combat Systems Officer onboard the USS Lake Champlain (CG 57). During this tour, Carter completed two Persian Gulf deployments as Air Defense Commander (ADC) for the Lincoln and Nimitz Battle Groups.

As a student from 1994 to 1995, attending the Army’s Command and General Staff College, located in Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., he completed the Joint Professional Military Education (JMPE phase I) and received a Master of Military Arts and Sciences (MMAS) degree.

He served onboard the USS Cole (DDG 67) as the Executive Officer from June 1997 until September 1998. During his time as XO, he completed a deployment to the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf. From July 1995 to November 1997, he was a Resource sponsor (N86) for guns, missiles, and small firearms for the Chief of Naval Operations.

From October 1998 until October 2000, he served as Chief, Advanced Technology/Technology Risk Assessment for the Technology Assessment under the Directorate for Intelligence Production (DI) Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Carter served as the first Commanding Officer of USS Shoup (DDG-86) from May 2001 to August 2003. He completed all pre-commissioning work up cycles and exercises and fired over 21 missiles to include 10 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles, Naval Gun Fire Support Exercises, Torpedo exercises, and Helicopter Anti-Submarine exercises with precision results.

He was EA and MPT&E Section Head to the Director for Capability Assessments (N81) from October 2004 to November 2007. From August 2003 to Sept 2004, Carter served as Chief of Staff of Expeditionary Strike Group 2 completing a deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

He previously served as the N12 Branch Head for Manpower Acquisitions for the Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower Personnel Training and Education, where he was responsible for managing and tracking of Manpower Requirements and Training as they pertain to new platform acquisitions.He currently is director of Navy Safe Harbor, overseeing all activities associated with supporting the Navy and Coast Guard’s seriously wounded, ill, and injured service members.

Finally I asked Carter through out his life, in playing the role of leader professionally, and in teaching his children what it means to be a strong and progressive black man what lessons does he try to or has tried to impart on those lives he has touched, “Well a positive attitude is important, but I always wanted to remind them to be a productive person, whether they are working, going to school, or recovering from a personal hardship, they should set goals and stay active make sure they are giving back to the greater community.”

This last statement reminded me of one of our in class discussions about the fractured sense of black community and how it is important for successful individuals like Carter has shown by example to lift as we climb.

Upon first glance Carter is a great man who has achieved an admirable amount of success, upon second glance he might not appear to be a traditional progressive black male as he has appeared to fit into the world of traditional patriarchy, but those who would think so would be wrong. Throughout his life he has shown he is a capable gentleman, he possesses a sound mind and sound body, family is important to him, he is economically mobile, on the greater scale of things he is a warrior who has served his country and served his ethnic community as an example of what kind of men we can become.

Timmy Westley Biography By: Akyia Westley


   Timmy Lee Westley was born on April 12, 1972 in Shreveport, Louisiana to parents Joyce Ann Westley and Baltimore Dunn. With four older siblings on his mother’s side and three younger sisters on his father’s side, he was quick to always be of assistance to them all. 
    Growing up in a single parent home, his mother Joyce did what she had to do in order to take care of all five of her children. On the weekends, she was what Timmy called “a modern day alcoholic.” Seeing his mom in this manner allowed him and his siblings to develop survival skills and be very independent at a very young age. Because his mother struggled to pay bills sometimes, they were forced to do things like illegally use electricity and water resources. But through all the poverty Timmy saw in his neighborhood, he did see a support system from them. People in the neighborhood would always be willing to help and support each other when they were in need and everyone around was generally grateful for what they had. And there were very little complaints about their situations because they knew it was just a part of life. 
    Although his mother wasn’t completely there for him and siblings, one thing she did do was believe in him. She knew he was capable of doing great things in life so she always just asked him to do his best at whatever he decided to do. She invested love and hope into him. She also continually told him that he was smart and intelligent. These words were what pushed Timmy to be the successor he is today.
    Timmy’s father was very absent throughout his childhood. The last recollection he had of his parents actually being together was while he was in kindergarten. His parents had gotten into an intense argument that ended with his mother pulling out a gun and grazing his father’s shoulder with a bullet. After that incident, Timmy saw his father sporadically over the course of his childhood. The most time Timmy remembers spending with his father was his junior year in high school. His stepmother had decided to take his sisters on a road trip to Baton Rough for about two or three days. During this time, Timmy and his father caught up with each other’s live and after the trip was over, their relationship didn’t really change. Five years later, his father passed away. 
    At the age of 19 Timmy left home to play basketball at Southern University. After two years of traveling with the team and still trying to handle his academics, he fell behind in school. Timmy knew he had to do something so that he would not disappoint his mother so he joined the United States army. He worked as a supply and logistics specialist, for a while before deciding to go back to school at Chaminide University. After taking a couple of courses, he was deployed to Stewart, Georgia, where he met his wife. The two then moved to San Antonio, Texas where they decided to begin their lives together. Two years later, Timmy exited active duty to go into postal services for three and a half years.
    In 2002, Timmy decided to go back to school at Wayland Baptist University where he got his Bachelors of Science Degree in religious studies. Initially wanting to get his degree in political science, Timmy was aiming to become a lawyer. But because of his gpa from recent school years, he was denied the privilege. Throughout recent years, Timmy did have a little experience in the preaching field so that is what made him decide to go into the religion field. He felt like it was something he enjoyed and became excited to learn more about where he could go with it. After earning his degree, there was a small period of time where Timmy taught middle school students. But after two months in the profession, he came to the conclusion that he did not want to teach students who did not know who they were yet.
    Timmy Westley is definitely not what you would call a stereotypical black male. He does tremendous amount of things in his community that show he is unlike what the media says about African American males. He has made contributions within his family and outside his family that ensures some great positivity that will have a long lasting impression on them. He is an alternate type of masculinity that more males in our community need to show.  

    Today Timmy has multiple jobs that highly involve the community. As an adult who has gone through a tough childhood, Timmy does try to reach out to the community in many different ways In November of 2005, Timmy believed he was called to start his own Christian organization. He opened Sheppard’s Venue Christian Church in 2006. He is also a professional speaker for Monster.com. He works for a department under their name called Making It Count. He talks to high school juniors and seniors about college careers. As a university instructor at the University of Phoenix, he enjoys teaching world religion to people who actually look up to him as a black male figure and are eager to learn about topics and soak up the knowledge he spreads to them. He makes an effort once a month to go down to a local juvenile center to minister to young boys. He tells them about how they can change their lives by just believing in themselves. He lets it be known that just because some of their fathers weren’t in their lives, it doesn’t give our young men an excuse not to become a great man. He also mentions to them how he actually replaced his real father with his spiritual father.

    As an author of two books; one called Elevations of life, and the other Poetic praises, he tries to offer as much knowledge as he can to people of all ages. Both of these books were dedicated to the local detention center he preached at once in a while to reach out to the youth there. He is also a two time recording artist who has made two Christian rap albums that reach out to youth in a positive way. He really makes an effort to show them that they can enjoy rap music without all of the derogatory statements and belittlement towards the African American community through Christianity. His goal with mentoring these youth is to just create an image of black men without negativity, but through the intent of building them up. 
    Timmy believes that he and his father’s relationship taught him how not o be an absentee father. With two sons and a daughter he makes sure that he shows his son’s what a father’s role is and he teaches his daughter how a man should treat her. He knows that his mother did a great job raising him, but having a father in his home would have made a tremendous difference. He has also been very involved in his children’s lives, by showing them that anything is possible. He was one of the first African American men who was voted as the PTA President at his son’s school and was even invited to sit on the school districts decision making board for two years. 
    When asked what he thought were the most important things in life, Timmy replied with five different answers. The number one thing he believes that African American men should have is a spiritual life. Having this is important to be successful because it gives them balance, structure, and an immediate guide. The second thing he suggests is that young males have to believe in themselves. He knows that not everyone is going to think you can do something, but if you know that you can set your mind to do something then it will be accomplished of you can just keep that positive attitude. Having a plan is his third most important thing to have in life. A target must be developed and set in order for you to get somewhere. Number four is to have a support system. Having the right people spiritually, emotionally, and financially can make all the difference in the world to a person. Not being afraid to fail is another characteristic for a young man to have. Once you fail, it just gives a person more motivated to get to that point of success. And last but not least, Timmy believed that a person must be willing to help others. He believes that a person can only see real success when they are able to turn around and help someone else out and invest in them. 
    Timmy is now also working on getting his PHD. He does not wish to be a pastor for the rest of his life so he is working on doing something greater with his life. Ultimately his love for the academic ministry has urged him to want to become a president or dean of a Christian university or even a historically black college where he can minister God’s word to people all over the country and world.