What Am I Thankful For In 2015?

What am I thankful for on this Thanksgiving? Where do I start? First of all, I am thankful for being the child of Doreatha (Childs) and Codis Hampton. Two people whom I dearly loved and will miss through eternity. And my heavenly father for placing me in their care and guidance in the first place.

I am thankful for having such wonderful siblings as my sisters, Delores, Carol, and stepsister, the late Johnny Mae. And let me not forget my little brother James Edward. I was the oldest and should have been the most responsible, but forgive me when I strayed to the dark side in my late teenage and young adult age.

That was a period when all five feet four of me thought to be cold blooded, hardcore and tuff was a prescription for survival in this country. The streets of Milwaukee called for guile, cunning, a bad attitude and short fuse. At least that is what I thought at the time. The first words out of my mouth to anyone who disagreed with me on any subject was F_ _ _ you, followed by I will kick your M-F A_ _. It made no difference if the guy was 5’4” 140lbs or 6’4” 250 lbs. My only suggestion to the person was to bring a lunch because it’s going to be an all-day fight to the finish. I won some and lost others. In fact, have you ever seen a group of different size dogs on the street or in a yard? The smallest runt of the pack is always barking the loudest, jumping up and down. The others may not even bark, but that runt is lunging at you as you walk by and seems to want to tear one of your limbs off your body. I was that runt.

I was mad at the world, didn’t care who knew it and was not planning on passing the age of twenty-one. And if that was to come to pass, I was going down swinging at my foe.  Along the way, I found out a simple truth. It didn’t matter who won, my body still felt the pain from being in a fight. ThanksgivingAll praise is to God; I got over and lived through that phase. I also give thanks to a three-year service in the US Army which helped me mature in a manner I never knew existed for a black man in this country.

I’ll tell you some other people who knew what I was  learning the hard way. And that is my mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, uncles, Aunts and adult cousins. If I had listened to them in the first place, well…that phase in my life could have been spent more productive maybe resulting in a master degree in something or the other. I have no regrets. That is what it took for me to get to 2015. Now it’s just another reason for me to be thankful today.

I am grateful for having met my wife, Sandra along the way. For our children, Shawn Lynn, Richie and Brandon, now grown and finding their way in life, I am all so proud of their accomplishments. They are down to earth people who are real and see life as it is not through rose colored glasses. My wife and I tried to raise them in the way we were raised hoping they would be better and avoid some of our mistakes. The fact that they are alive and well is a blessing in itself.

Today, I can say; I have family and friends that I keep in contact with, some daily, weekly, others monthly, and yearly. There are friends and family I haven’t touched bases with in a while who know me well enough to know I still care and think about them. As in life, there have been disagreements with family and friends causing them to fall out of touch for whatever reason. They should know; I’m not a person who holds a grudge or harbor some dislike for them because of some incident between us. Thank God, I can say, I’m not that kind of person today. I have evolved and continue to do so. I am a better person than I was years ago, last year and several months ago, as I continue to work on me every day. I am certainly thankful for that.

Make no mistake about it. I go through what you all go through on a daily basis. We have to deal with rude and obnoxious people in the grocery store or other retail outlets. Making a phone call to a vendor while trying to correct their billing error can be challenging. Is it me, or am I correct in concluding that customer service is lacking at too many of our service industry companies these days?  Sometimes it’s as though the Human Resource Office in these companies have hired a staff of incompetent, uncaring, and impatient individuals to answer their phones and yet call themselves a customer service representative. Most of time, I feel I should send them an invoice for helping them do their job. You feel me? But then, over the years I’ve learned not to let a person or persons put me in a bad mood for the day. I deal with it at that time with that person and move on; it’s that simple. And for that change in my personality, I am thankful to Jesus Christ.

I am oh so thankful for the new people I am meeting in my life. Some of which, I have never personally met or seen, but often communicate by phone as if we’ve known each other for a lifetime. I’ve met most of these new friends and contacts in connection with my church, BTR Show, publication of books or my role as their tax preparer.

Every day many of these people or colleagues give me hope there is a better day coming for our people of color and communities across this nation. We share a common goal for the human race and specifically for the black race. These are people of all colors who demonstrate on a daily basis that they are community driven first rather than only seeking profit for their endeavors. It is these people, along with my upbringing that keeps me going and selfishly giving of my time for my community.

I am so thankful to my Savior for guiding me as I take the actions required to give and contribute in my way to our community.  To say that I’ve evolved into a good husband, father, citizen and black man in 2015 is an understatement in my view. I’ve found peace with myself, my God, my family, friends and everyone else. And for that, I am eternally thankful this Thanksgiving.  Happy Thanksgiving to you all, may you find the same type of contentment in your life.

Peace, make it a day in which Jesus Christ would be proud of you,


Codis Hampton II

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“In my latest book, Remember Moz, Gracie & John Hampton’s First-Born, I wanted to tell the world about a unique individual. Not because he happened to be my father but to explain who he was, where he came from, and how he evolved into the man he became up until his death. In doing so, I wrote of his ancestor’s roots back to and through the Civil War. The inclusion of his birth and upbringing in the heart of Arkansas, or Jim Crow country, add southern reluctance to learn why our country involved itself in a bloodthirsty four-year exercise in the first place? Then you begin to understand why, our parents behaved the way that they did. See if I captured the essence of this paragraph.” Get the book via the Authors Page at http://outskirtspress.com/webPage/isbn/9781478766056

or visit my Amazon.com Authors page at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B017TYFKBI?ref_=pe_1724030_132998070



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Copyright 2011 Codis Hampton II, all rights reserved. A bi-weekly blog for your enjoyment

Mount Olive of Bradley County AR

I am fascinated by our people who suffered the humiliation of Slavery and subsequently the Jim Crow era of the South. I have a profound, deep respect for people who were not only able to survive but thrive while raising a family.  Personally, my tolerance for pain is very low and my patience with racist people? Well, let’s not even go there.  We will just say, there are days when I feel diplomatic and somewhat forgiven. And then there are days, when I am not feeling it, don’t have time for it, and will rise up on a fool if they don’t get out of my face.

As I write this article, I remember the times I would stop by my grandmother’s apartment. I was in my twenties, at a time when I was hurrying to get somewhere but really didn’t know where I was going. Grandma Gracie lived by herself in a little ground floor studio apartment around seventeenth and Vliet Street in Milwaukee. That had to be around 1965 or 1966. I always liked to stop by and have lunch, eat one of her teacakes while visiting with her. Sometimes I would bring her something, a packaged pastry or candy bar from the corner store. She liked the company but was always in grandmother mode. “Junior, you moving too fast…boy why you in such a hurry?” she’d ask. “Have you found you, somebody, to settle down with?” “Naw mama…but I am having a ball looking,” I would respectfully answer in the street lingo of the times. She would just look at me, shake her head and smile. “That’s all right, you’ll learn someday.”

We would sit there and chat about this, that and the other. She would ask about daddy and the rest of the family. I would report that all was well. She would tell me stories of how she had to tell the doctors at Milwaukee Country General Hospital “what is what” about her health. “I told him, you better stop poking me so hard otherwise Um gonna have to cut you.” “Grandma you didn’t pull your knife on the doctor again did you,” I’d ask while chewing my food. “Naw, but that old fool knows, he better not mess with me.”  “I am sure after that time you chased him down the hall, they all know you,” I would say the both of us laughing about that particular incident. After a couple of hours, I would excuse myself, telling her I’d see her no later than next week and hurriedly leave after getting a hug and kiss. More than likely, I was headed for my favorite hang out at the time, Loves Hideaway Bar. It was only about four blocks up the way.

While walking I would laugh at some of the escapades Grandma had caused, been in, around or ended. She, like a lot of her peers from Bradley County Arkansas, was a woman who didn’t take any stuff from anybody of any color. Later on in my life while researching the book I wrote based on her life I learned of the hardships our people had to endure living in Jim Crows South. And that is when the reality of it all hit me.

For those who are still with us, we ought to kneel down, wash and massage their tired feet.  They survived knight riders and other racist terrorism. Or at the very least, keep in mind the humiliation, mental and physical pain they endured as we look into their tired old eyes. Try to imagine some of the things they have seen and heard in Jim Crows south during their lifetime. Young white boys that had too many beers, looking for a darkie to tease, abuse, and push around. I’ve have heard a few black folk make statements like, “Don’t start bringing up those days. It’s over and I am glad I don’t want to have to deal with it.” I just shake my head and say, those people are the reason we are here. We are the reason they took all of those insults, beatings, and sometimes hangings. So, a little respect for those who came before us is in order…please.

You want to know who you are.  Look across the dinner table at your mother or father. Talk to your grandparents if you are lucky enough to have them around. Ask your older uncles or aunts what it was like living in Bradley County when they were barefoot children. They didn’t have a television, radio, or even electricity. The comforts of hot running water or indoor bathroom facilities were not part of their house.

How about the right to vote? Or be educated with the most current educational tools, or even work for a fair labor rate?  When you get a chance, look up the word sharecropping on the internet. Read all about the land owner’s requirements and how they tried to bind sharecroppers to a lifestyle of servitude. Look up and read books about the great migration of the Negro race from the south. Think about reasons why, reasons other than the primary one of searching for a better life. You will realize our folks decided that living in the south was like a dead end job at the time.

In fact go back to pre-Civil War days. Yes slavery, that time that some of us would like to erase from our consciousness and maybe our history. Look at that famous picture; it’s in all the documentation, on the internet, books, and films. They show you a not too old black man with his back to the photographer. He has so many whipping scars on his back it looks like a design of some sort until you realize what the whip has done to this man’s skin. Have I got your attention yet?

It places the importance of such places as Mount Olive in perspective. Imagine if the ground, trees and foliage could talk, what stories it could tell you about your people. Think of the contradictions between how white folks worshiped, calling themselves christens, all while wholeheartedly supporting slavery of black people. An example of that solid Southern support can be found in the following Civil War era 16” x 21” propaganda poster. It begins by announcing in a bold headline…

“SOUTHERN DEMOCRACY! The object of the Southern Rebellion and its Northern allies is to render Slavery universal. Under the names of Democracy, they seek to deprive labor of all its rights. Read what the Leaders say: The theory of free labor is a delusion. Slavery is the natural and normal condition of the laboring man, WHITE or BLACK. –De Bow’s Southern Review. The enslavement of the laborer is right in itself, and does not depend upon difference of completion. -Richmond Enquires….Make the laboring man a slave, and he would be far better off.- Fitzhugh’s Sociology…Thus the “Democrats,” North and South pronounce free society a failure, and feel labor a curse. Slavery is a blessing to be extended over all men who labor whether black or White.”

This idea came from and was no doubt written by the cream of high society. One thing is clear, they don’t really care who gets the work done as long as it gets done and garners them all the profit and a bare minimum amount of expense. After reading this poster, I bet some poor white people was able to see the writing on the wall, while suddenly realizing that these planters didn’t really give a damn about them either. A sobering thought for whites who thought they were just as special as the masters and mistresses.  Nevertheless, and by the grace of God, the Civil War ended with the Union intact and the end of slavery as they knew it.

It was a long and hard road for those who were once slaves to find their way in this new environment.  Amidst this chaos sprouted, one of many in the South, a community of black folks. It is noted that Mount Olive began as a safe haven for black land owners. Land as low as fifty cents per acre attracted homesteaders from surrounding states at the time. These settlers did as white settlers around the country. They built a community with entities that communities needed to function, such as a church, school and stores that sold or barter goods and services. Some of which they didn’t have or couldn’t grow. Every month or so, such items were brought into the area by steamboat on the Saline River. And therefore by the grace of God, and their belief in the same, they acted as the unincorporated community they were by raising families.

They built log cabins for housing. Women ‘wore homespun dresses, knitting their socks and stockings.’ Their first church was called Camp Ground. Its seats were made from split logs.  By 1883, they bought a little church that was near the center of the community, naming it Mt. Olive.

The Mount Olive community was the benefit of funding from a favorite project of philanthropist Julius Rosenwald. His School Fund was established to build schools for the specific education of black folks.  In 1927, the Mt. Olive Rosenwald School, located on Bradley Road 45 was built. The wood frame building, one of five such schools built in Bradley County during that era, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2004.

That is why they have these Homecomings in the South. It’s like walking on hallowed ground that once supported our ancestors.  You get to see and feel the hot sun they endured during field duty.  There is nothing like visiting these type events that are so connected to our great grandparents and other relatives from that era. Call Hostess/Host Princella & MacArthur Davis at 870-226-7011 for details.

Let us embrace how our ancestors spoke, conducted business, lived their lives with morality, cooperation among other members of their community. We should remind the world that those people who many categorized as simple, uneducated by societal design and thought to be nothing but chattel was able to make away for us to be here. Let us show the world who we are and where we came from. What if the world doesn’t care? Oh well, it does not really matter because it’s not the world that we wish to honor. It is those millions of black folks brought to this land in chains and their offspring and thus…ourselves.  It’s the culture borne out of poverty and a lifestyle of survival and the necessity to cope with life. It is the way we sing, dance, eat, dress, and yes even pray and forgive that we are honoring today. For with the events happening in the way it did, we are a stronger people for it. We may be forgiving of the past, yet we are also cognizant of the future.  As a people, we embrace it with open arms. It is great to be black and alive.

Peace, make it a day in which Jesus Christ would be proud of you,

Codis Hampton II

Follow Hamp at https://twitter.com/#!/HampTwo   

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Get my latest book, a collection of my Blogs/Articles from 1999 through 2014. It’s entitled The Episodic Thoughts of Hamp. Go to the following Authors page link for details. http://www.outskirtspress.com/webPage/isbn/9781478746232

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Copyright 2011 Codis Hampton II, all rights reserved. A bi-weekly blog for your enjoyment