Lately, there have been many instances of police brutality and police killings being reported which have garnered national attention – Mike Brown, Andrew Scott Gaynier, Ezell Ford, Dillon Taylor, Dante Parker, Omar Abrego, Jacinto Zavala, Diana Showman, Michelle Cusseaux, Joshua Paul, Joseph Jennings, Guillermo Canas, Chris Lollie, Bryce Masters, and many, many others
I thought I should share my personal experience about how my life has been affected by police brutality:
My Dad graduated high school in Kansas City, Kansas and enrolled in college at Pittsburgh State University in Pittsburgh, Kansas where he majored in accounting. Just like many educated Black college students did in those days, my Dad joined a fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi. At PSU, my Dad also met the love of his life, my mother.
On weekends, my Dad would often drive back to Kansas City to visit family, but on one of those weekends during his senior year, he got injured in a wreck on the highway with an 18 wheeler that had veered into his lane. The Police arrived, and saw that he was Black, so they beat him – breaking over a dozen bones and leaving him with permanent brain damage. Eventually my Dad received a settlement from the Police Department, but the money didn’t erase what they did, and it surely didn’t make up for all the lives that were affected in the process.
My mother was pregnant with me at the time this occurred, so I never even got a chance to develop a relationship with my Dad before the incident occurred. I remember telling my Dad I would be going to college in a small town, just like he did, and I remember him breaking down in tears begging me not to… swearing that if I went to college in a small town, someone would kill me before I made it to graduation, just like they tried to do to him. I kept that thought in the back of my mind, every day for the entire fours years that I attended Lincoln University, and especially during my junior and senior years when I commuted twice per week between Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO and Kansas City, Missouri where I worked as a Supervisor at H&R Block.
My father lived to see my 30th birthday. My father eventually healed from all the broken bones and spent 30 years fighting the brain damage inflicted on him by the officers that day. That was long enough for him to see me graduate with my bachelor’s degree in business, see the birth of both of his grandsons (my sons), and later saw me graduate with my master’s degree in business. My father died at 52 years old, and while it was initially thought that his death was suspicious, it was later confirmed that his death was due to the brain damage caused by a stroke.
To this day, I can still hear his voice guiding me:
“There are both good people and bad people in this world, son”
“Stand up for what you believe in”
“Make a difference”
and I try to teach my sons the same way that my Dad taught me.
I know my Dad is looking down on me smiling somewhere, and I try to live life to the fullest, because I know that my Dad, just like many other people, never got the chance…
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