'Vital Speeches of the Day'

I began About Our Freedom two years ago hoping that on this journey I would be led to resources that would help us to define what freedom really means to us today and what we can do to embrace the fullest measure of it.  I just reviewed a nine page interview I conducted with my grandmother's first cousin who moved to Illinois from South Carolina in the 1940's.  It is a blessing to have family members from that time period who can tell us about our ancestors and other family members who lived long before we came along.

 I treasure all the recorded interviews that I have conducted and transcribed.  Each time I reflect back on them and take them out to listen or review, I feel so much more connected to my forebears. I never want to get so lost in the records that I forget that I can learn just as much from the stories that survived too.  Records are important, but not as important as the life lessons that were passed down through oral history.

My interviewees are full of so much wisdom and advice.  I know that the principles my ancestors lived by helped them to be happy and successful.  It is my lifelong task to keep recording and preserving as much as I can.

I have worked to pass these same values on to the next generation. People who do not share my heritage sometimes remark that it must be a great burden for my child to be put under so much responsibility.  I smirk inside when I consider what might have happened if my parents had somehow decided I did not need to be overburdened by expectations to do better than the generation before.  I am glad I belong to a family that set high values and expectations because I would not be the person I am today.  I wake up every day hoping to make myself and the world a better place.

In this interview from 2005, I was able to learn more details about my great great grandparent's and their children.  I always love asking what folks looked like and what they learned from the old sayings.

It is so rewarding to dive into records to try to document the things I learn from the oral history shared.  The interviews I have served me over and over as I turn to them to glean more information time after time.

This was no different with the interview of my grandmother Otis' cousin.  It was wonderful to hear the names of the different family groups in birth order. One of the questions I asked her was what her father, Pettis Chick, taught her.  She said she remembered him telling her to work hard and be obedient.

Then she mentioned her Uncle Clarence, my grandmother's uncle.  He  and his wife taught at Fayetteville Teacher's College in North Carolina (Fayetteville State University), and she said Uncle Clarence wrote to her and gave her some advice:  "Read your bible. Study your Negro history, and save your money."  I received that advice as if it had come to me directly from my ancestors.  My great uncle Clarence was taught well.

At the end of rereading the interview, I remembered a few years ago when I was coming through the Palmetto Leader on microfilm at the Richland Library.  I remember stopping to look at an article and a photo of C. A. Chick who was affiliated with Benedict College.  I remember feeling he was related to me, but I had no proof so I kept spinning the reel right past him.

That picture of C. A. Chick has stayed in my mind.  I learned through oral history that this branch of my family all attended Benedict College.  The person in the photograph I now know would have been Uncle Clarence.  I must go back to retrieve it because it will give us an idea of what he looked like before he moved to Fayetteville.

Uncle Clarence must have a really strong connection with me because I also stumbled upon a photo of him and his wife in two different yearbooks for Fayetteville on Ancestry.  The citation on the yearbook mentions Benedict College which leads me to believe I really did pass up that photo of him on microfilm.   I e-mailed the yearbook photos to my mother as a surprise, and this was her response:

"I went on the computer and found uncle Chick and his wife!  It brought tears to my eyes, because he was the one who wanted mom and dad to send me to North Carolina to go to college free.  He was a Professor there then.  I remember having met him in Union at one time when I was a kid, and Daddy took us to North Carolina to see them when we were little." - My Mom.

It seems that I must continue and gather the history that remains at Fayetteville State University. In the process of writing this article, I discovered there is a building there named after Uncle Clarence's  second wife: Helen T. Chick, Fayetteville State University http://services.uncfsu.edu/departments/ITTS/GoogleMap/parking.cfm.  In addition to that, I discovered a speech given by Uncle Clarence:

Social and Moral Obligations of High School Graduates.  It appears in a periodical entitled Vital Speeches of the Day (8/15/59, Vol. 25 Issue 21, p658).

If that does not bring enough excitement to me, I discovered other resources in the process of writing this article, and I will be sharing my thoughts on each one after I have time to review them all.  

  • Which Way? Chick, C.A. // Vital Speeches of the Day;10/1/52, Vol. 18 Issue 24, p764 
    Presents the text of a speech given by C.A. Chick, professor of economics and U.S. government at State Teachers College, on May 18, 1952 which deals with the future of African-Americans in southern U.S.
  • Signs of Hope. Chick Sr., C.A. // Vital Speeches of the Day;9/15/54, Vol. 20 Issue 23, p724 
    Presents the text of a speech given by C.A. Chick Sr., professor of Economics and American Government at Fayetteville State Teachers College in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on July 27, 1954, which deals with the rise of nationalism in Africa.

The West's Changing Attitude Toward Africa

C. A. Chick, Sr.
The Journal of Negro Education
Vol. 29, No. 2 (Spring, 1960), pp. 191-197
Published by: Journal of Negro Education
Article Stable URL:http://www.jstor.org/stable/2293167

Recent Southern Industrialization and its Implications for Negroes Living in the South

C. A. Chick, Sr.
The Journal of Negro Education
Vol. 22, No. 4 (Autumn, 1953), pp. 476-483
Published by: Journal of Negro Education
Article Stable URL:http://www.jstor.org/stable/2293523

 C. A. Chick
The Journal of Negro Education
Vol. 16, No. 2 (Spring, 1947), pp. 172-179
Published by: Journal of Negro Education
Article Stable URL:http://www.jstor.org/stable/2966185

The Role of Higher Education in Transmitting Democratic Ideals Into Behavior Patterns

I am past words knowing that my quest has led me right back to Rev. C. A. Chick, my great uncle, and professor of economics and American History.  It makes me feel good to be able to do this work of keeping the causes of our loved ones alive.  We are all still connected when we can perform the tasks that make us so.  I like to think my Uncle Clarence has come to know me as I have come to know him, and I hope he is happy to see that I am following his admonition to "Study your Negro history."



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