The Last of Afrikan Americans born without birth certificate

Unheard of today, most Americans have conformed but the true story of one of the very precious few remaining, who did not... 

He already learned too much, what does this mean and how does it apply in your society who refuses to recognize you as a fellow citizen?

You do not see many of them these days, they are about phased out. We honor war heroes but frown upon our elders, who refuse to cooperate but survive.

I just met this gentleman, born, lived and died, without ever being a registered citizen. It was not due to any criminal intent, but due to technicalities in the system. After meeting him I learned his story was very intriguing and true to the life we live today. Hearing it causes one wonder how he survived.

He was 89 years of age and little did I know how sick he really was and the fact, he would be around only a few more days. It seemed he knew this and I was the one there in time to capture his very sacred testimonies. Due to circumstances beyond his control, his testimonies were all he had left.

I will refer to my new found friend as MJoe. Knowing him he would say, one more alias will not hurt...He was born in Monticello, Georgia, during an era in America, when it was common not to be born in a hospital nor have a birth certificate, especially if you were of Afrikan descent. Some kept track of official information in Bibles, but the more corrupt the system became, the less this method was accepted. Yet, today, we still claim the Bible to be more of an official document in our lifestyle than the experience of our elders.

Born in 1926, to parents who lived in slavery, MJoe declared Monticello, a small town in rural backwoods Georgia, the most racist place in America and he lived long enough to know. MJoe would be considered the eyes and hears of an era about which most today have only heard, ashamed to acknowledge and find it hard to believe. Even testifying to the time when it was forbidden and punishable by law for Blacks to "laugh out loud on the public streets of Monticello, GA". You really do not want to believe it because it makes you more ashamed of what is going on today.

Today, Monticello is most proud to claim themselves Georgia’s Deer Capital and not because they just love deer, but love to exploit them. This tells you, they still see killing animals, which is not as accepted in mainstream America, as a very profitable way of life.

MJoe grew up sharecropping on a farm in Monticello. Sharecropping was an accepted way of making a living, offered to Black folk, in exchange for room, board and a share of the harvest. The question remains, where was the sharing? What if the homeowner said there was nothing to share?

Just as with dead end jobs today, sharecropping came to abrupt end due of corrupt intentions. Today, we pay immigrants and illegal workers to perform the same thankless tasks. MJoe tells of how he first overcame his fear and learned what life had in store for him early on. He explained how prior to the age of 5 years old, his parents died and he was taken in by a distant relative. How was he to know he did not have a birth certificate? You do not learn these things until you need money, which has attributed to the corruption of the humane aspect to entire system. The obvious is no longer obvious.

This distant relative helped him attain a birth certificate, but guest what… in a name different from the name he knew at birth. Being a small child MJoe went along out of respect for his elders. Little did this mature relative know how difficult this would make the rest of his life in a fast moving society.  He was worked like hell for free and denied food from the very stockpiles he helped harvest, put away and sold, under the guise of sharecropping. Where is the sharing? Labor laws which exploited underaged workers, today are used against them.

At the early age of six or seven, worked as a slave and being denied food drove MJoe to thoughts of doing the impossible to rectify this abusive and inhumane situation. You will be amazed at what a hungry child can come up with.  Knowing there was plenty of good meat stored away at the home of the property owner and nothing at his, MJoe was not mature enough to understand the fullness of injustice, tricky, but slowly but surely, he was destined to prove one way or the other. All that work and the harvest stored but nothing but hunger pains in return??? At the early age of seven, this just did not make sense to MJoe and drove him closer to thoughts of taking a chance at being severely punished for stealing, just for trying to satisfy his hunger pains. You know most of us talk of having plenty doing those days, but the reality of this all is, things were much tighter then than they are today.

Stealing, no matter how petty, meant severe punishment, especially if you were Black and most Black adults would not dare violate, no matter how hungry they and their families grew. Most suffered, some even perished, but all endured so the property owners had more than necessary to carry them through tough times. Damn, What a sense of loyalty! 

He did not execute his thoughts then but a few days later, after convincing himself he was “entitled” to see if this was actually true. Like Harriet Tubman, you know you are being manipulated and exploited but fail to understand the double standards and why people go along to get along? Before he could carry out this, all but deaf defying act, there were a few more challenges MJoe had to overcome. The house where all the harvest was stored was about five miles down a long dirt road about which he had heard nothing but horror stories in the daylight, much less during the hours of darkness. He knew it had to be dark to increase his chances of not being detected by the homeowners and his relatives. There were also dogs and the notion of being too young to question adult business.

Inspite of all these dangers, hunger finally exceeded his fears and became his inspiration to overcome them all. Entitled to the products and services we helped produce but denied or is pay more than enough to satisfy our hunger? Out of the mouth of babes!

As he made the decision to leave home, he knew he could not return. Leaving with only the clothes on his back, MJoe ventured into the forbidden zones. Along the way, he realized all the lies people passed on, without even a second thought, just to control you. From authority figures to their subordinates, lies were conjured up to protect whatever it was being denied you. The further he ventured away from home the more courageous and enlightened he became. Is this why we are so limited in our thinking today? We do not want you to know.

After arriving at his intended destination, the dogs did not bark but embraced him. The moon lit his way and MJoe was able to confirm the bounty stored at the homeowner’s house, while his house had nothing. How could this be? How could we be entitled to NOTHING with all this stuff stored here? He did not linger but made haste. He took just enough meat, not to be missed and ran away from home, at the age of seven. It is so amazing what severe hunger and going along to get along will cause a special child to do, even as a young child.

After pulling off this great feat, MJoe’s sole priority in life became “never to be this hungry again”. To feed his hunger MJoe traveled the south before venturing north. You know what kind of jobs he took and the nature of the people hiring him? It is disheartening to expose the slick, sick, secret, perverted behavior in which we hide.

 By the time MJoe reached adulthood and coerced to attend school, learn reading and writing for a better quality of life, he refused, saying, “He had already learned too much”. He mastered every skill needed to build a home and used it to become one of the most productive citizens in America, but who cares, being he was not registered and considered illiterate? He did not allow a piece of paper to hinder him from being just as official as any other productive American, even though we did. Against all odds, he took the road least traveled and lived longer than most that do not.

He could not grasp why people born without a birth certificate, yet more proof they are America born, could be treated less than those who immigrate or are less productive? He endured the unnecessary stresses our society imposes to deny its natural born citizens while opening the door to immigrants. That we are more in the business of covering up than correcting.

He knew an immigrant who could not speak, read nor write the language was treated better than a man in his shoes. Why are not they considered illiterate?

MJoe realized early on, the lies we tell, tricks we play and set out to defy anyone pretending, including his religion. He was a self taught Bible scholar who knew preachers of today are all about one thing, themselves. What was their role during slavery? For this noble cause and no fault of his he paid a dear price as he succumbed to stress related illnesses and old age. Another unsung hero, MJoe was living proof Americans care more about proving you wrong than we do about helping you live.

After living a long solitary life, he departed this world just like any other man, with nothing. RIP MJoe, November 16, 1926 - July 27, 2016

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