BLACK MALE ELDER RECOGNITION PROJECT
The black male that I am giving recognition to is, my grandfather, Leon Ford Jr. Although not my grandfather by blood, he has always been a mentor and inspiration to me. By being a great mentor and father figure in my life. This man exemplifies a man that only has one child, yet a father figure, friend, grandfather, brother, husband, to many. Taking care of all those blessed to be around him. Leon “Junior” Ford Junior was born February 14, 1951, in Oakland, California to a family of five. He was the second youngest. He was raised in East Oakland, on 23rd Avenue with his father, mother, brothers and sisters. My grandfather always hung around the older crowd, so he had to grow up fast. He also changed his name, raised his self a grade, and no one ever said anything. The school just went along with it. So he went from Theodore to Leon and a grade level higher. Being a kid in Oakland, he had to hustle. So he found ways to make money to provide for himself and family. By giving rides to other kids, he accumulated gas money; by shining shoes he got money for his clothing. He also played games of basketball for money against the local kids. When he got a faster vehicle he began racing for money. Eventually graduating from high school and having a son at the age 17, his son, my sister’s father, was to eventually be murdered at the age of 23. Working as a furniture salesman, and turning down the military, my grandfather got his own place, and by the age of 26 was married to his late wife Audrey Ford who had a daughter of her own before their marriage. He said he was making so much money, he use to have a drawer full of checks. These early saving skills he says has lead to his success. At the age of 28 he bought the car lot his father worked on for, from there he never looked back and started L and A Motors. Purchasing a home in the bay area suburb, and making many business ventures, to acquire better deals on vehicles and investments. Meeting many successful people over his year and taking numerous trips around the world to experience many different things, participating in community events, and becoming a leader to his peers and family. Creating a system of wealth and empowerment in all those around him. Encouraging others and never judging is his motto, because everyone makes mistakes, and in that regard he can understand life around him. He also says that he may not be the best man in the world, but he attempts to be number one, and pass good morals and ideals into my life, teaching me how to become a man and stand on my own, a message to everyone to go and live your dreams and stand on your own feet.
My Grandfather’s life is far from the stereotypical image of the black man. He was an extraordinary husband, a resilient father, great businessman, friend to many, father figure to many children, and mentor to his peers. Economic wise my grandfather exceeds the stereotypical economic ideas set forth “for a black man”. My grandfather has no debt, owns a local business, owns a home, own his vehicles, has a will, owns several assets, and know people with power within his community. My grandfather not having any debt allows him the freedom to do the thing he liked. Allowing him to plan out the rest of his life and giving him the option to retire when he liked, also the support system himself and his wife set up allows him to live comfortably and bill free the rest of his life. Him being a black man owning a local business, car lot, within his community keeps the dollar black, circulating within our own community. Also showing other black men young and old that they can work and provide for themselves if they put their mind to it. My grandfather owning assets such as a home, vehicles (classics), and property gives my grandfather more net worth, allowing him to obtain credit and loans in large amounts, due to his net worth income. My grandfather knowing people of power allows him to have a say so on what happens within his community, and opens opportunities to join organizations like the Black Business Association, the Better Business Bureau, politicians, law officials (sheriff, police, corrections, etc.), community workers, etc. My grandfather using these resources to get jobs for his family and friends, networking building connections, socially my grandfather surpassed stereotypes also. He was a wonderful husband to his late wife, he takes care of his community, and he knows the street’s side of life alongside the “square” side of life. My grandfather being a great husband gave my grandmother the support she needed to be successful, because they both wanted a good life and were willing to work hard to get it. Them both having life insurance that would not leave the other in debt. Secondly, they both envisioned being successful, and never got comfortable, they never settled to want to make bill payments the rest of their lives. They set goals, set standards, took care of each other, and gave each other privacy, so when they got home they had a peace of mind. My grandfather taking care of his community disproves the stereotypes about blacks making it and leaving their communities. My grandfather offers several jobs to the local community. Although he cannot take care of the entire community, he gives people the opportunity to make money and get themselves on their feet. He also gets them work by networking his hiring friends with his friends looking for work. Meaning if you need housework, he knows someone. The plus is that the work is within the black community, blacks helping blacks. My grandfather knowing both the street aspect and square aspect of life helps him exceed in his business. It gives him an edge with people who only knows business, because he knows what the streets want, and an edge on the street side because he provides a business people need, his business will flourish. Keeping great morals and ideals in his mentality and understanding what life is like as a black man, keeps him going. His vision of the war and how they treated blacks after keeps his mind keen. For there is not greater enemy than you, so protect it.