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.