Associated with the Symposium on the Shared History of Germans and African Americans in Missouri that was held on September 16, 2023, this video is a Collaboration between the Deutschheim Verein and the Warren County Historical Society with partial Support from the Missouri Humanities Council, Visit Hermann and Cross-Cultural Strategies Inc.
All speakers are from Warren County, St. Louis, Hermann, and Wentzville.
Read the AI-generated transcription of this video
The following transcript was generated automatically and is not human-curated. It is made available as a guide and may contain spelling errors and other transcription issues.
First I’ll tell you how I grew up in Fort Steele, Missouri.
I went to an integrated, segregated elementary school in Fort Steele for about three years.
Then they sent us to Malay for a couple of years.
We went back to Woodsfield and then in 1954, Brown v. Board of Education, we got a chance to integrate the school.
So my first reunion in high school, I went to Woodsfield High School because I got the quick gift that I had here.
I’ll tell you a little bit about my grandfather, great grandfather.
He was my mother’s grandfather, Benjamin Osby.
The most exciting thing that I heard, I think it was last year, my niece here, Board of Love,
called me and told me that he had found out that he fought in the Civil War.
That man just knocked me off my feet to know that this man, they said he came here when he was 12 as a slave
and was able to escape, go to Central and join the Union and fight for his country.
So that was so exciting and then to know that his forearms where we live, they made a park out of it.
My mother was able to leave here when she was young, go to school with some boys.
She was a southerner, seven a.m. and a southerner.
I came back here, married my father, and had six kids.
So we all went to, like I said, segregated schools and went to high school in 1955 and graduated in Westfield.
So I’m going to tell you a little bit about Benjamin Love.
This story really hit me.
He told his wife that, “Look, I’m going to go fight for my country.”
This was 1864. He joined the, I don’t know how he did this, he was able to go to Central and join the,
who actually did this and then he went to some of us to train, went down to Arkansas and fought.
And then he came back to Missouri and bought this property.
They’ve been, you know, but before he left, he told his wife, “Look, I’m going to go fight and I’m going to come back and build you a home.”
And it was so exciting because they did a play of this and the lady said, “I’m going to build a house facing the east with the sun shining in the kitchen,
you know, every morning you have the sun shining in the kitchen.”
We lived in that house and so I remember the sun shining in that kitchen facing the east every morning.
So that was so exciting.
So I guess most of you have heard about the park and being built in Westfield, Westfield.
You’re so close. You want to say Westfield because it seems like it’s closer to Westfield and Westfield, but that’s what I promise to do.
And I won’t take anyone.
He really told a great story. He really told everything that needed to be told.
Benjamin Ogerspeay would be my great-great grandfather.
And I was contacted by the Historical Society in Westfield and they had told me they were looking for some descendants of Benjamin Ogerspeay.
And by the grace of God, I was one of the descendants that they were looking for.
They were wanting to name a park after him.
They said that they had built the park and they had read his story.
And it was such an awesome story, so they felt like it would be no more than right to name it after Benjamin Ogerspeay.
And just listening to the story, he told a little bit about it, about the fact that he was a slave.
And for him to come back and be able to buy their property, their faith, my mother, his brothers and sisters, his family lived off of.
How ironic, nothing but God, that he would be able to purchase their property and then all the years later from my mother and her family to live on that property and then they make it a park.
So when they took us to see it, I’d already been there. I knew where it was.
But if you don’t just believe in that this would be possible all these years later, I couldn’t stop crying.
And the man from the Parks Department said, “Oh, Ms. Love, we wanted it to be a good thing.”
I said, “This is a good thing. This is a good cry.” Because how ironic that they lived on that all those years.
And then we’d turn around and they’d make a park out of it.
As he said, you have to go see it. It is in between Wensfield, Monroe, Wensfield and Forestill.
And it says, “Oberspeay Park.” They have fish in there. They have trails there. It’s a beautiful park.
But it’s just so, it’s such a beautiful thing. I know we don’t have time to give a timeline.
But just the fact that he ran away. He was a slave. He ran away. He came back.
Well, he joined the service. Then he came back and bought that property.
And he didn’t leave that legacy to us. And what I got out of it, that hard work.
Never give up. You never give up. You never know what God has intended for you along the way.
Like this one friend of mine, he lived in South City. And he had a land-plating who was very racist.
And she invited us to a barbecue.
And my friend was asking permission to bring us all, which us included, of course, my boyfriend,
all of us, and brother. And she said, “You know I don’t want no black, no Negro. I don’t want no Negro in my house.
They just look around and look what they can steal.”
And then, you know, like, that was his name.
Ask me, “Are you coming anyway?” And, you know, I have to say, I love stakes so much that I did come without Robert.
I did want to share, you know, kind of the cover of my book that will be coming out pretty soon.
You know, so here Robert was a guitarist. He actually played with Albert King at some point.
What was the name of Robert’s name?
Robert Lowry. He’s not well known, but, you know, he was playing. He said it was close.
It’s us him, right?
And then that’s, you know, like, and you see the family house right there as it was on North Market.
And here on the bottom is actually where, when I came back 25 years later, the neighboring,
his family house was gone. That’s the empty lot here.
And, you know, kind of the house next door that was systemically lived.
Yeah, it was a ruin, you know. And this is just kind of showing how the whole neighborhood looked.
I mean, it was just not one house, but it was everywhere, everywhere.
So, and that’s why, you know, I thought it was important to basically tell the story,
because there’s so much that people who do not live in the area don’t know about, you know.
And they just know, okay, it went down here, you know, and then let the black people let it go down here.
But it was actually, you know, really the city that had plans already and, you know,
did everything they could to basically make it so that children did.
So that’s part of what I’m talking about, besides the story itself.
In the summer of ’67, I was working nights at a gas station on the street of Cicero.
The summer that Martin Luther King came to try to integrate the community of Cicero.
And so I was involved in many issues and went back and graduated from San Diego State
with a degree in business finance, but had taken a number of radical classes.
That the radical students said, “How can you be a business nature?”
And the business students said, “How can you take black consciousness and third world liberation
and colonialism and economics of poverty?”
And so I was a freak to two worlds, but I said, “It gives me an opportunity to share my faith in Christ.”
And so after college, I had the opportunity to go to Europe,
and I worked for a church-based, not-for-profit housing group in London
that was buying and rehabbing housing for low-income families.
And I went to a Christian study center called LaBrie that was just opening up in England at that time.
They had a main–they’d been going in Switzerland for a number of years.
And I helped–while I was waiting for my work met,
I helped get this old manor house ready for students to come.
And these German twins arrived, and after a couple weeks,
we were doing dishes after dinner of 20 people living in this old manor house.
And Ellen said–someone asked her about marrying.
She said, “I’m never going to get married. I’m going to be a teacher and vote my life to work with kids.”
And I had already told myself I couldn’t get involved with a European woman
because they wouldn’t understand the issues of urban America.
And I felt God had called me to do something about problems in inner-city America.
And it was through this Christian study center that I heard about a church in St. Louis.
He said, “If you ever go back to the States, visit this church in St. Louis called
“Brazing Peace Fellowship.” They could use someone interested in housing and community development issues.
And so this was one of my stops when I came back to the States.
And that summer, Ellen and I were talking about whether our friendship should be something more than a friendship.
And I said, “No, I’m more interested in getting a housing corporation going than getting married,
so why don’t you go back to Germany?”
And so we met in ’71, and in 1985, I visited Ellen in Germany,
and that led to our then getting married, and she said she was willing–
by that time I had bought a house north of Del Mar in the city about a mile north of Forest Park.
And she said she was willing to live anywhere that I was,
and that she had felt God had called her to marry me or no one.
So she was teaching in an inner-city high school in Cologne, Germany, with very low-income German kids,
Turkish, Yugoslav, and Italian immigrant kids, and knew all the issues of cultural issues,
and so it wasn’t based on race or anything else.
And by that time, I’d been able to buy this house that–
my mortgage payments were $75 a month, but it was a big, beautiful house because of the neighborhood.
It was–that was declining rapidly.
We sold Ellen’s car in Germany to paper shipping her furniture over here,
and her furniture just fit perfectly in this old Victorian house that was built in 1892.
And after she got settled, she says, “Gordon, should I get a job?”
And I said, “Well, can we live on what I’m earning?
It would be great if you could work with the kids in the neighborhood.”
We were the only white people for many blocks in any direction.
Everyone else was African-American, and there were no fathers on the street.
It was all single mothers with children.
And I said, “These kids need care and love.”
And so we came out here to Warrenton, to Child Evangelism Fellowship,
to get information for working with children.
And so my wife used Child Evangelism for a kids club that we had at her house every week,
and the kids would come to our house.
Teresa King, our next-door neighbor, helped Ellen with the kids club.
And the not-for-profit housing organization that I helped start was rehabbing buildings on our block.
That virtually all of the apartment buildings were vacant and vandalized, and gradually we rehabbed them
to preserve housing for low-income families.
And so we decided to invite some of the families from the street to go with us to Merrimack State Park
to go on the church camp out.
And the kids were saying, “Are we going to get shot if we go in the country?”
And so I was driving the church van, and Ellen was driving our station wagon back from the camp out.
And this eight-year-old girl says to her mom, “Mom, is Miss Ellen black or white?”
Well, obviously Ellen was a six-foot tall blonde German.
And her mother was silent.
And later she said, “Mom, is Miss Ellen black or white?”
And she says, “She was born in Germany.”
And that was the mother’s answer to the daughter, because the daughter only heard negative things about white people
and couldn’t explain Ellen’s love for all the kids in the neighborhood.
And so we served the neighborhood well, and I worked for a not-for-profit neighborhood organization for a while
until Ellen died of ovarian cancer after 13 years of marriage.
And at her funeral, one of our neighbors, an African-American pastor,
who was retired at that point, described Ellen as the “Angel of the Neighborhood.”
When did they say the word “Angel”?
The Angel of the Neighborhood.
And when the gang had told us to get out of the neighborhood,
Ellen had not only, but they wanted us out because she reported the drug use going on.
And I was talking to the gang when they came and told.
And she came out and said, “You guys get out of here. I’m going to go talk to your mothers.”
And the next day Ellen went and talked to the three mothers that we knew on the street of these gang members.
And the mothers told their sons, “You leave Gordon and Ellen alone.
They’ve done more good for this neighborhood than anybody, and you leave them alone.”
And Ellen didn’t stop there.
She got one of the guys to get a job so he could work and earn some income.
She helped another guy get into a job training program to learn how to be a carpenter.
And the third family moved away as the mother was trying to get her son out of the gang.
And later the mother told me that he later moved back into the neighborhood because he was so connected with the gang.
And so I have many stories that I could tell about Ellen and my life.
And the one story was that through the connection of a German woman who came to our church,
Ellen got into a German literature group in St. Louis,
mostly wives of doctors and lawyers,
and every once a month they would get together and read a short story or a play or read a novel
or watch a movie in German.
And for many, many years women would not come and visit us.
They were afraid of coming into our neighborhood.
And finally one day six ladies climbed into one of the ladies’ Mercedes and came and visited us.
This is a beautiful house and this is a nice neighborhood.
But all their preconceptions of life in our neighborhood was they were afraid to come in and visit us.
And one of the ladies ended up still being in touch with somebody,
helping my wife with her kids club and still maintaining contact with some of the girls.
I worked at the school in O’Fallon, where I grew up in Winston, Missouri.
And we have a group called Cultures in Action.
So that’s any culture is invited into this group.
And every year we do a black history program.
And I’ve been talking about my great-great-grandfather that was a slave in Troy, Missouri,
born a slave in Troy, Missouri, and he fought in the Civil War.
And in order for me to get some of the facts I needed, I came up here to Washington,
and I got all my information.
And I have pictures of my great-great-grandfather. And then I also went to Troy,
and I was with War Research because I wanted to find his marriage races.
I wanted to know when he got married, you know, who his wife was, everything.
Because I kept hearing that he had two wives.
So when his first wife died in 1921, he got remarried that same year.
So in my cemetery in Wright City, and I’m running all over, looking at his stones,
and I’m cleaning up the his stones and taking pictures and everything,
because I want all of my facts to be just right.
So when I get up on the stage, I can tell the kids what’s going on.
Because the kids at school, they tell me that it’s degrading for them to participate.
So I have a lot of kids that is not Afro-American that’s participating with us
in the cultures and actions, especially on Black History Month,
because it’s degrading for them to get up there and talk about their history.
And I ask them why, and they don’t know, because they don’t know their history.
What I hear is the warm fuzzies, but like I said, I didn’t grow up with the warm fuzzies.
And when I came to Washington, I mean, it was not very pleasant at all,
because I had experienced being what you call free, because I can remember the theater of town.
I took my son, who was like three years old, we were going to go see the movie Bambi.
And when I went in with some other friends that were born and raised in Warren County,
and we went in, and after we got our tickets, and I started to get a popcorn,
I started to go in, and they, “You can’t go through that door.”
And I said, “Why can’t I go through that door?”
And there was a sign up on the wall that says, “Color,” and there was a stairs.
“Where do you go upstairs?”
And I thought, “I’m not going up.”
It was steps. It was just the principle of the thing.
And I went and I asked for my money back.
The lady said, “Well, I can’t very well do that.”
And I said, “I don’t care how well you’re doing it.”
I said, “Just give me my money back.”
So she called for the manager, and he told me to give my money back,
because everybody, they just backed up when I walked up and asked for my money back,
because they thought it was going to be a fragrance.
Well, I’m not a fighter, but I make myself known.
And those kind of things were, and I appreciate all the warm fuzzes,
because I have experienced a lot of warm fuzzes,
because if you act as though you don’t want to be bothered with me,
I’m just more than happy to rub shoulders with you anyhow.
So that’s just the way I am, because I don’t find people to be strangers.
I don’t find people to be any different than I am.
And they have their idiosyncrasies just like I do.
So I accept people for who they are and how they are.
And when I first started going to church in Warrington,
I first started trying to go to Willsville.
Well, I couldn’t get myself down to Kroger’s store,
let alone get to Willsville on time to go to church.
At the time I got down there, the church was half gone.
So I said, “I’m not too different than this, because I had four kids.
I had to get ready to take with me.”
So I started going to church in Warrington,
because the pastor and one of the beacons of the church came.
We lived in a little town down in the road.
Some of you know the little town called Simmsville, a little area.
It’s not a town, it’s just a little settlement called Simmsville.
And I lived down there, and they came down looking for children
to go to vacation by the schools.
And I made every excuse I could think of
not to let my children go.
But I said, “Well, I don’t drive.
Oh, we’ll come get them and we’ll bring them back.”
I said, “Okay.”
“Well, they don’t have clothes.
They just wear their play clothes.”
And I said, “Well, this will be lunchtime.”
“Well, we give them snacks.”
So they just blew everything.
So I decided they didn’t go.
And they went and they came back.
They were so excited.
“Oh, Mama, I met this boy. I met this boy.”
“So and so. I met this kid.”
And they were just so excited that we started.
I started taking him to Sunday school there.
And that was the beginning of coming to church.
Well, we had one lady, and she was of, you know,
children of the church, of children of the community, so to speak.
And she’s dead, but I didn’t kill her.
But she was so defiant of black people going to this white church
that she went around trying to raise money to build a church for the black people.
But, you know, she didn’t get very much, you know, help.
So therefore, it would end as the, make a long story short,
I still go to that church.
Well, that’s when I grew up here.
I mean, I experienced it.
There wasn’t too many black families here.
It was the Houston’s, maybe, and the Smiths.
And there was four siblings, the teachers that we had.
We were told that we were too dumb to go to college.
And three of us have masters and PhDs now.
You know, and it was definitely finally odd.
You know, it’s just pretty much, like my mom said,
one of my friends was an African missionary that came over to the Baptist Church.
We knew the blacks in Winthrop from Troy from Wright City,
so we didn’t really, I had white friends, because we’re only two black families here.
But pretty much, you know, I was free to go to their house
because their parents were pretty much like my mom,
and we would have sleepovers back and forth.
But yeah, I can say I experienced,
“Don’t play with her,” or, you know, “You can’t come to my house.”
But pretty much, I guess, I grew up in the church, so it’s pretty much,
I really did, I knew what black and white was.
But as for being prejudiced, we weren’t raised to have that prejudice
because I didn’t care who you were,
why don’t you want to ride a bike with me?
I didn’t go fishing, it really didn’t matter.
I experienced, I think more when I went to my left, California,
to go to school, I experienced a little bit of,
still in my 20s, that because I was black,
but I said, I’m not my mom,
I think the more that she didn’t like me because I was black,
the more that I got up in your face because it didn’t really care.
Like I said, if you cut me, sometimes my blood’s red,
like your blood is red, so it didn’t really matter.
So pretty much, I felt that, I felt it a lot growing up here,
but I didn’t let that stand in my way
because I guess I didn’t have a choice about going to college.
Mom’s like, “You’re going to college, you know, all the kids,
you didn’t really have a choice.”
“Well, you did, you can get a job, you can get out of the house.”
You know, and I appreciate that, I appreciate it,
but yeah, I felt that way, yeah,
I felt sometimes that I knew to not have to go outside by myself at dark.
And I really didn’t understand why people didn’t like me because they were black.
I didn’t really understand that.
And you can see that on TV, you know, we didn’t have the shows you have on now,
we didn’t have the internet, but here it was just a black or a white.
But like I said, I had white friends, and to talk to their parents,
they’re telling me this is what that other family is feeling,
so I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t go to Jan’s house,
but I didn’t go to Michelle’s house, you know, or I didn’t go to Robin’s house.
But their parents, also some of them were born and raised here,
they didn’t get to, they migrated to Warrington,
so they came from places where they were around blacks and were around whites,
and they intermingled.
So I think them coming in, some of the people that we hung around with,
some of the whites shunned them because they were friends with our family.
I got that too, but it’s just interesting to listen to the stories
of different backgrounds.
I did hear about your family in the paper and on TV,
and I was doing research because I have a family member
that’s from the St. Charles area, and I read about the park,
and I’m like, that is just great.
It was just great, just different things.
I do have friends from Herman, the rare family.
I went to school with them, so I met people just through other people,
but it’s still pronounced.
It’s just pronounced, but I grew up in Warrington,
and I still have friends here, so I’m proud to say I’m from Warrington.
I wanted to tell Queen Esther that Charlene was from a German family,
and I got pregnant and gave birth in 1964,
and so when he was five years old, I came back home to visit one weekend,
and my girlfriend Charlene was still here,
and so we decided to go to the movie house in Montgomery City
and thinking the rice movement is over, everything should be cool.
I can sit on the first floor now, because we had a crow’s nest too,
and I hated it, and I refused to sit up there,
and so we walked in.
She’s white, I’m black, and I have my little boy with me.
We walk in and sit down to look at the movie,
and the attendant comes in and taps us on the shoulder,
tells me, “You can’t sit here.”
I’m going, “Excuse me, but what? I paid my 50 cents.
Even though you can’t come here, niggas are supposed to sit up there.”
And so I said, “Well, I want my money back.”
They didn’t argue about it, they gave us back, but we will never be back in here.
I’ve never been back.
That was what, year 69, 1969?
See, that’s the problem that I have, is that because slavery was abolished,
black people seemed like instead of becoming slaves,
they became second-class citizens.
I mean, you moved from one realm to the other.
And the age of my children, which was caused after slavery,
they should not have been experiencing the things that they went through
in this day and age.
They should never have experienced that.
I mean, what’s the use of freedom of slavery?
They’re still not going to be actually free.
For me, freedom comes from my heart.
You can’t set me free.
You can’t jail me because my heart doesn’t have to be in jail,
just because my body is.
I mean, that’s the way my philosophy on life is.
And that’s what it is.
There used to be a swimming pool in the right city,
and my son, who was born in 1958, was in the Boy Scouts,
and they went once a month.
The scout troop would do something, field A or whatever,
and this particular month, they were going to go to the right city,
and there was swimming pool.
Well, he was so excited, you know, came back,
and I noticed that he was just kind of down,
and I said, “Well, how did it go?”
It was okay.
I said, “How did you like swimming?”
“I didn’t get to swim.”
I said, “What do you mean you didn’t get to swim?”
“They weren’t letting me swim in the pool.”
And I said, “What did you do?”
He said, “I sat on the bench in the other porch swimming in the pool.”
He was the only black kid in the troop.
Next morning, I was on the doorstep of the troop leaders.
There was two of them.
I went to both of them’s house, and I just read them and write them.
They taught those boys that it was okay to discriminate
I said, “You didn’t tell them that. You didn’t tell them that.
You taught them that.”
They will always think that in their heart, even though they may grow up.
If you believe that, we’re always going to never believe their heart
and enjoy it.
It changed who they were from that day forward.
I said, “What does my silencing here?”
Well, from that day forward, because he had to sit there
and watch his friends swim, and he had to sit there
and look at them dual-sips in Wright City.
Speaking to that, we used to have to–
I used to play in the concert band and concert choirs and stuff.
We had district competitions in Mexico and then state competition in Colombia.
One year for district competition, I think I was–
I must have been a sophomore, a junior, I forget.
I rode in the car with Betty Wagner and her mother.
We went to the Five and Dine.
Was it the Five and Dine?
It went to one of those– I think it was the Five and Dine.
All of us in our school uniforms, our band uniforms, went in together,
sat down at the counter, and they said, “We don’t serve livers.”
Everybody in the group said, “You don’t serve her.
We don’t eat either.”
Any other comments from the audience?
One common thing that I did is seeing all the stories that,
no matter where you come from or what you want to do in life,
God has a different plan.
It’s amazing how he brought all these plans together.
I’d like to say also that the Oglebay family,
when you go back into the archives and read about it,
he actually signed these–
these for the Berlin, for the 140 acres.
It was in– the judge was a German man.
He actually signed the deal with it.
I– yes. I’m so glad you said that.
In my research, I’ve discovered,
just because people were not paying attention,
they say, “White and white encompasses everybody.”
Well, there’s some exceptions to that.
For example, George Washington Carver,
the family that he belonged to was German,
and they taught him to read and write.
And when they were– when the family, the enslaved family,
was bushwhacked, the bushwhackers came and took them,
Carver paid for a group of men to go and get them back.
And when it was time for George Washington Carver to leave,
they said, “Great, go, because you have something to give.”
Now, does that mean that slavery is okay? No.
Does it mean that we should change our mind about that history?
It does mean that some people were kinder than others
in the manner in which they dealt with the people who were there.
And that part of the story has not been told.
So to know that George Washington Carver had people who,
as Germans, had some respect for what that family did with them
and taught them the ways of farming,
so that he became internationally known as an agricultural scientist,
What is unique about our gathering here is that it’s not unique in America,
that we don’t come together and share the good, the bad, and the ugly.
But when we put it out there, there is–
There’s relief, because we put it out there.
And there is a need, I think, now,
to look for what we can build upon in a positive way.
Because we pretty much know all the bad stuff.
We know it.
But if we can’t build, you know, it is remarkable to me that in a Herman–
and I, you know, I stay away from politics and I’m going to do it now.
But I do have a comment to make.
It is extraordinary to me that they have an African-American Chief of Police.
And yet, they’re 85% Republican in their votes.
But you know what the difference is?
And there’s some Germans who have the ability to see dignity and provide it
and yet have a difference of opinion on the political side.
We need to build on what is good.
Because we cannot build on what is bad, but we have to acknowledge what is bad.
My remaining standpoint is negative.
People don’t say what they did that was good because they don’t want them to know.
So, for example, in the state of Missouri, there were laws where you could go to jail
if you married slaves.
And yet, Joseph Anton Rieger of the German Evangelical Church married them all the time.
He didn’t care.
And the slaves somehow learned that he was the man who would do that.
He was the man.
But who was going to advertise that?
I mean, he’s not good because the treatment, frankly, of Germans was really bad
when they first came to Missouri because they spoke a different language.
They looked a certain way.
Many wore beards.
No offense to any way they were.
They wore beards.
They had a different language.
They dressed differently.
And the nativists treated Germans poorly because of that.
And yet, as immigrants, they’re coming in helping some black folks.
That is most unusual.
I hardly ever see immigrants take a risk.
You don’t blame them.
You can’t blame them.
They’re trying to make it themselves.
But we almost never see that.
And that’s why when you quoted Edward Mule, that’s really remarkable
because Edward Mule in essence said, “Hey, we’ve come here for freedom.
We’re not going to come here to enslave people when we ourselves were almost enslaved.”
That’s how they fought.
That made Germans, in my mind’s eye, different than the other people who were here.
The rulers in Germany at that middle 1800 were terribly oppressive.
They were the wealthy.
They were related to one another, weren’t kings.
It was a very divided area, small little kingdoms.
And the rulers were very, very oppressive.
So a lot of Germans immigrated to America in the mid 1800s
to get away from that oppression.
And I didn’t know that other immigrants didn’t feel that way.
Now, I do want to make a point.
Yeah, just one second.
I do want to make a point.
We’re not trying to make a sweeping generalization
that all Germans felt that way.
I do want to say that because there were some Germans
who went right along with the program on slavery
and even the idea of being more superior in some cases.
But by and large, their representation in support of the Union,
there were only, it was almost 250,000 German immigrants that joined Lincoln’s Union.
There was 200,000 African Americans both enslaved and non enslaved
who joined the Union, almost equal.
And even though they joined the Union,
not everyone was going to go out there and bat the ball for black folks.
But there was definitely a propensity on the part of Germans
unparalleled to other immigrant groups.
It’s not just the thing in our heads.
I mean, this is basically, there’s a galactic process between
where you are, what you also mentioned, the environment altogether
and what you think.
I mean, we are basically, yeah, we are what we experience, right?
So I think that’s really important to remember.
In my neighborhood, there is such in growth of negative thinking
within part of the African American community
that most of the kids in my neighborhood thought their only hope was to become drug dealers.
They didn’t think that they would be able to make it in the world.
And it was through some of the kids in the neighborhood
being part of a desegregation program, they would go to county schools.
And it was also through my wife bringing successful African Americans
into our neighborhood to teach the kids that there is an alternative
that you can get jobs, you can make it in society,
to break some of the inner city mindset of some of these kids.
And that was very important for my wife and I to do,
to expose the children to going to the muni.
And seeing other African American kids and people at the muni
or to Grant’s Farm and to see other African Americans doing things
because most of these kids were growing up without much money and their parents,
some of them were drug addicts and drug dealers themselves.
And so we had to break some of the cultural issues
that we were exposed to in our neighborhood.
You think about that too because in your circles
you can’t pull neighbors of diversity together to talk
and to talk about the past and the future.