My senior year in high school the New Journal and Guide, a local newspaper, printed an article discussing the differences my Grandfather and I experienced playing football in the state of Virginia. The article describes how…
“Daniel Bacchus Sr. watched Allyn practice with white teammates, guided by a white coach and later watched by hundreds of white fans, at that Lake Taylor Field. “I never thought I’d live long enough to see the changes they’ve made.” Said Daniel Bacchus Sr. “It was unheard of in my day. I never thought it could happen”.
My grandfather constantly reminded us of the reality he faced living as a black man in southern Virginia during 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. While sitting in his favorite chair, he would tell us about the things society wouldn’t allow him to do that he now watched us do. For example…
I could grow up in a neighborhood off of Fox Hill Road. He couldn’t set foot on that side of town during the 50’s and 60’s.
I could make the all-state football team as a running back for Kecoughtan High School. He couldn’t be recognized for his efforts as a running back for Huntington High School because the Virginia High School League didn’t keep the stats or recognize players from segregated schools.
I could spend a day in the sand with my family at Buckroe Beach. He couldn’t take his family to that beach because it was “white only”.
I could teach with white and black co-workers at Lindsay Middle School in Hampton, VA. He couldn’t drink from the same water fountain as his co-workers at the Newport News, VA Shipyard.
I don’t believe Daniel Bacchus Sr. (1930-2012) shared his memories and experiences of segregation, prejudice, and racism with his grandchildren out anger or with contempt. Daniel Bacchus Sr. was proud of what he accomplished in his lifetime despite the obstacles that were placed in front of him simply because of the color of his skin. My grandfather reminded us of his past so that we would take full advantage of our future. A future that he openly admitted he couldn’t fathom in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s.
I am fully aware that race relations in 2016 seem to be worse then ever but I am also understand that in two generations I have experienced and achieved things that my Grandfather said, “he never thought could happen”. It has been 4 years since my Grandfather passed away and I am forever grateful for the reality he endured during his live so that I could have opportunities that I have in mine. I have been able to see, do, and achieve things that were “unheard of in his day”. The stories shared with me by Daniel Bacchus Sr. from his favorite chair remind me to truly appreciate the opportunities I have that left him saying…
“I never thought I’d live long enough to see the changes they’ve made. It was unheard of in my day. I never thought it happen”