Monday, April 6, 2009


Have you ever been placed in a situation where the
circumstances dictate that the predicament you’ve been
placed in has backed you into a corner that seems to have no
clear logical escape? Without your immediate escape, the
outcome of the predicament could prove to be very
detrimental to your immediate or future wellbeing?
Such was the case for a young African‐American boy in the
1960s. Throughout life, Gregory Heartwell, a native of the San
Francisco bay area, witnessed grass root activities that took
place relative to Vietnam War Protests. Also he witnessed the
Civil Rights movements, Black Panthers, Peoples Park Riots,
evolving race relations, and affirmative actions marking the
most significant historical evolution of American societal
relations. Gregory was a second generation immigrant of
southern‐bred parents. He had been provided a solid
foundation of values of spirituality, self‐reliance, resilience,
self‐confidence, family loyalty, and the protection of selfconvictions.
These gifts of values would be paramount in
keeping a lifelong journey of misdirected decisions and
actions from becoming detrimental in his life.
The Jim Crow South was an oppressive social environment for
people of ethnic descent. Laws, customs, and traditions were
used to enforce and maintain a white supremacy mentality;
completely contradicting the Fourteenth Amendment to
provide equal rights to blacks.
Choosing to no longer tolerate the tyranny of the oppressed
South, Charlie Bridges, Heartwell’s rebellious grandfather
learned he had been forced to make a narrow escape out of
town in the midnight hour to avoid a “Lynch Mob”. This event
came after an incident in town near his home became the
liberating escape that allowed him to accomplish his vision of
living in a society which respected him as a hardworking
Christian man, whose only agenda was to provide the best life
for his family.
Charlie Bridges uprooted his family from the rural south of
Kosciusko, Mississippi in the early 1940s by moving them to
California. This move enabled a change in the course of his
family’s life which broke an oppressed cycle of generations, of
his ancestors before him who’d been forced to live in a society
that treated blacks as less than a whole person.
Still, back to coping with overwhelming or unpredictable
circumstances—while lying in a hospital room having faced
near death in a car accident his reflections take him through a
journey of his and his family’s history, his discoveries about a
great deal of knowledge, and wisdom that had been passed
down from his grandfather’s legacy of strong traditional
values evolving from his roots of the Deep South to the liberal
progressive San Francisco bay area in the heart of the civil
rights, Vietnam War and school integration eras.
Gregory began to see things with more clarity and
personification of the challenges the lessons that had played
out throughout the years, surviving an attempted rape,
overcoming the perils that are entrapping inner city juvenile
delinquents running rampant in the streets of America, to the
nation’s capital as a of a child abduction, to realizing his talent
in sports, and eventually a dream of playing professional in
baseball which helped to provide internal strength, and the
creditability of an urban warrior.
Gregory life’s journey of intersection of fate affected the
outcome of his life, prepared him to ponder for something
dynamic significance, but what?