In my life, I’ve been blessed on my father’s side of the family to have lots of cousins. The funny thing is that we don’t distinguish between first cousins and anything beyond that.
In fact, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I heard about the different kinds of cousins. You know – first, second, first removed and all of that. I actually find it pretty confusing because in my family, a cousin is a cousin and it’s that simple. But if you’ve ever wondered about the degrees of cousins in a family, here’s how that works:
You and your first cousin share the same set of grandparents.
You and your second cousin share the same great-grandparents – not grand-parents.
You and your third cousin share the same …
Did I mention that we have Royal heritage? Not the crown-wearing kind but Royal, as in the now-vintage typewriter that’s been used by three generations of our family already.
Our Royal was built in 1929, as I discovered when I looked up the serial number recently. My grandmother Hazel was the first in our family to learn how to type on the glass-covered black and gold keys.
The next generation who learned how to type was my mom. She took the Royal to college with her and later got a job as a teletype operator because of her excellent typing skills.
My sister and I were the 3rd generation of fingers in our family to learn the magic of the Royal keyboard. …
The first time I ever heard about Barack Obama was when he was introduced as the keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. I was watching the coverage because my home state governor, Jennifer Granholm from Michigan, was scheduled to speak.
I confess, I was half-paying attention and doing other things at home while I waited for the Governor to come on. And then I heard Barack Obama start speaking. I don’t remember his exact words, but whatever Mr. Obama said literally reached out from the television, grabbed my attention and never let go.
By the end of his speech I was standing up cheering -
In my living room.
I knew from that day forward that Mr. Obama would be president. In fact, I started saying …
During my early years, I was blessed with three grandfathers – my mother’s father, my dad’s father and his stepfather. Uril Hollis was my step-grandfather and the grandpa I got to see most when we’d spend the weekend with he and my grandmother in Hamtramck, Michigan.
I didn’t know much about Grandpa Hollis except that his full name was Franklin Uril Hollis, he was born in Mississippi and he didn’t have any children. I knew he was smart – an engineer of sorts at the Music Hall in Detroit. And I knew he had two things he loved to do - hunt and “tinker” (as Gram called it) in his basement workshop.
My grandmother was Grandpa Hollis’s third wife and best friends with his deceased second wife, …
On Sunday, June 23, 1963, instead of a quiet morning at home, my father packed up the entire family and took us to downtown Detroit for a civil rights march, he said. That brief explanation couldn’t have prepared me for seeing so many people that day gathering for the march. We would turn out to be 25,000 strong led by a young minister from Atlanta who I had never heard of -
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
We marched down Woodward Avenue, the main drag in Detroit that goes from the suburbs right down to the Detroit River. It was there at Cobo Hall that the march ended and Dr. King gave a speech about having a dream.
Maybe inspired by the warm response of Detroiters to his …
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