Joshua Davis Photography

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The Pile: Thoughts, Life, and Photography of Joshua Davis

The Story of My Family

One day my mother was talking to my grandmother, and my grandma said, “Oh, that’s where the rich people live.” My mom replied, “No, their homes looked like ours.” My grandma thought for a moment, and realized that was true.

I really don’t know much about my family history. But I do know my family use to own land in Alabama. It was given as repayment for slavery. The local jurisdictions enacted special taxes to take back this land from blacks, and my maternal family was forced to move North. My grandma was born in Philly, her parents both died, and she and her siblings became wards of the state. At times – I believe – they starved.

Then my Grandpa was drafted by the U.S. army for the Vietnam War. An uncle told him to go the Air Force instead. His first assignment was Houston, Texas, there he met my grandmother. My granddad served his time out (he even went to Thailand), and decided to reenlist in the USAF. This took his family to places like Germany, and Nebraska. In Nebraska they bought the first piece of land since the Alabama property was seized.

Later they moved to a then largely undeveloped part of Northern Virgina. There they bought there first brand new house. It’s been twenty nine years since they purchased this house, and me, my mother, and sister still live there. The journey was not at all easy. There was a time where my Grandmother purchased food for her family with pennies. There where times when the creditors wanted to seize the house.

My mother then became the first in her family to earn a degree. She graduated from Georgia Tech, and went into the computer industry. My dad also received his degree from the Air Force Academy, later my Aunt got hers, and currently my Grandmother is working on getting her degree.

My family received almost no government assistance besides what was listed above. They went from starving, to “riches.” All I can say is I’m damn proud of the accomplishments they have made.

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Filed under: Black Matters, Economy and Business, Education, Essays, History

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