I grew up in Atlanta. I was actually born in a small town south of Atlanta, but my Mom and Dad moved to Atlanta when I was 6 months old.
They came to Atlanta with nothing. Both found jobs, and both went back to school. They worked hard, and did without in order to get somewhere in life.
When I was about 13 they bought their first house. In today's times it would be middle class, and nothing special, but my parents worked hard to make it special.
We didn't always lock the doors, and many times the car keys were in the car.
We were a white neighborhood, but I went to school with black children and never thought anything of it.
In our neighborhood, everyone did the same thing. They kept their yards up, washed their cars in the driveway, and went to church on Sunday.
In the 70's I kept hearing about white fright. It didn't mean much to me, until one of our neighbors gave in to the fright.
I soon discovered what it all meant. It seems that Atlanta was to white. It needed some color, so the federal Gov. came up with a dept. called HUD. How it worked is reps. would come into the community and scare the life out of people.
The first to go was a neighbor across the street from us. He was told that several people in the neighborhood had sold their houses to blacks, and now if they didn't sale, the market would go down, and the property values would decline. He was also told that crime would skyrocket, and his family wouldn't be safe. (What he was told was a lie, as none of the other families had even thought of putting their houses up for sale.
Now the way HUD worked was they offered below market value, and then turn around and sale the house to a black family for one dollar. The deal was they would maintain the house and in five years, they would take over the payments.
Guess what happened next!!!!
One by one others started to go. My parents were the last hold out. It was not until on Christmas day, while we were out of town, our house was broken into. The man was caught, but not until he had broken all the windows, bundled up our stuff, and bleed all over everything, because of the broken glass.
My mom and Dad went to court, and the man was given time served, because get this, "This man didn't know any better" "It is difficult for a young black man to suddenly have a house, and not have a job."
Within a few months, my Mom and Dad sold our beloved home to HUD.
Now keep in mind, my parents were not racists, nor did they blame those who moved into our community. They blamed the Gov. who gave these homes away, without follow up.
Today when you go back to the old neighborhood, it must be done during the day, as night time is to dangerous. We were told that after the five years for the people that moved in our house, it was so run down, they couldn't sale it, and it reverted back to HUD and stood empty for years.
You can still see the pecan trees that my daddy planted, and the tree where my mom backed into on the way out the driveway.
But, little else is the way it was when it was a real home.
My story doesn't stop there. I never moved with my family, I instead moved into a little apartment, on the bus line. I got a job downtown, and went to school at night. It was a great job, because they allowed me to do my homework on the job. Once I left work, the bus took me straight to school. I worked 8 hours, and went to school for 5, so my days were long and hard, but that work was paying off.
The bus trip was timed so that if it was a few minutes late, I was late for class, but most of the time, I made it.
One day the boss called me into his office. He said that federal regulations now said that each office would have to have a person of color, and my job would be filled by that person. He told me they were sending me to the office on the North side of Atlanta. I knew the people in that office, as I had gotten to know them in the years I had been working, but this would have added thirty more minutes to my commute. I was close to graduation, so I quit my job, and drew unemployment until I graduated. By the way, the token girl lasted 6 weeks, until her absentees got her fired.
I soon met a man, who in a fit of stupid, joined the Army, so I left my beloved Atlanta. I miss it to this day, but it isn't the same. I keep up with some of my high school friends, but there is nothing there any more that says home. My mom and Dad never did buy another house. They rented, and soon my dad's health went down hill, and he died. My mom moved on the North side of town, until her health also declined.
Until the day they died, there was never a racist bone in their bodies.
Now the Army was different. There was no token anything. ALL worked their asses off for very little, and you gained, if you were willing to work.
So that's my story. It is sad for me to think about.
Have things changed? Some, but not enough. People are still getting money they don't earn, and don't appreciate. Sadly, that money is much more important than the feeling you get from having earned it.