A Rich Heritage and a Strong Future

Every parent has the silent dream that their children will be more successful than they have been.  We want to pass that baton to the younger generation, and we pray fervently that they will run farther and harder than we did though we did our very best.

I remember one Vacation Bible School when my class was singing “Jesus Loves the Little Children;” we got to the part of the song that said “Red and Yellow, BLACK AND WHITE,” and my oldest son jumped to his feet and proudly proclaimed “That’s ME!” I remember smiling as I saw his first glimpses of truly understanding his bi-racial heritage.  I have a unique place as a mother of bi-racial children.  I work hard to make sure they embrace their multicultural heritage.  I do not think there has ever been a time in history, such as exists now, that has been so significant in the harmonious blending of the two cultures represented in my marriage.

Politically, we have seen a growing grassroots movement of conservative minorities.  We have seen people of color, such as Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, appointed to high government positions.  We can honestly tell our children that their attainment of those positions had nothing to do with affirmative action but rather with hard work, good education, and the determination to do something meaningful with their lives.

Historically, the role models are endless: Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Martin Luther King, Jr., and myriads of others.  The deepest heritage I long for my children to know is how their mom (a descendant of Jefferson Davis) and their father (a descendant of slaves in Mississippi, where his family received the surname of Irons), through time and the grace of God, were able to come together in a free America and build a family.  Another bit of trivia that we found interesting as we were getting married was that my maid of honor was a descendant of slave owners in Mississippi at the same time my husband’s family was in captivity in Mississippi. We were never able to determine whether there was a possible link there. We just found that an interesting bit of information.   Here we stand, over a century later, sharing the best of times and being the best of friends … all from descendants of the Confederacy — a slave owner and slave family.

I will forever remember my favorite hero of black history—one you may never have heard about.  My husband’s father is JC Irons.  He is one of the wisest men I know.  I sometimes get the feeling that he has absorbed all the wisdom Solomon ever offered … and then some. Some may think that impossible of a man who has only a third grade education, but his life experience and determination to make a greater future for his wife and their fourteen children is a treasure to our collection of family heirlooms.

He lives by simple convictions — trust God and be kind to your fellow man … and do not argue with Momma!  He knows adversity. He has a strong and sure faith in Christ.  He took the cards that were dealt him and played the game until he WON.  He took the skills he had in construction and built his own company from the ground up.  He took his third grade addition and subtraction skills and learned to keep a payroll and budget. He had the grace of God, hard work, and determination to see his children do better than himself.  So far, nine of his fourteen children have attended college and are currently working in professional positions.  He has a passion to see his kids do better than he did.

I recently overheard my oldest son tell his father that he wanted to be the first black President of the United States.  My husband said, “No.  I want to be the first black President of the United States — I expect you to do greater!” The possibilities are endless.  As a mother raising bi-racial children, I see that their black heritage is rich and their future strong!