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Letter to the editor: Remembering my father—a proud black man

Sunday, June 21, will be Father’s Day and many sons, daughters, wives, mothers and even sisters and brothers will send cards or make calls or texts to say “Happy Father’s Day” to someone they love or care about.

My father, the Rev. Cass Ford Jr., died 15 years ago, and I still think about him, especially on that day. I am the oldest of seven children he had with my mother, the late Eunice Pratt Ford.

The events about police brutality and the worldwide protesting against injustice — he would be marching right along with the crowd.

My father was a proud black man. He left the God-forsaken area of Cadiz, Kentucky where there was much segregation and “Jim Crow” attitudes enforced by the law.

He came to Ironton looking for a good job and escape from the prejudices of his hometown. He was one of 13 children raised by his mother. He worked at Dayton Malleable Iron Company in the foundry — very hard and hot work. He and his brother, the late Sam Ford, endured many insults, games and jobs from whites because they were black men.

The stories he told me of how they were treated were horrible. My father was very vocal about the mistreatment he received and the “fun” tricks played on him.

He was very proud of his children, especially his five sons, all tall, intelligent, handsome and strong.

He was not perfect; he made many mistakes, but he was my father and I respected him — Honor thy father and thy mother…says the Bible.

During his golden years, he became an ordained minister and was a former pastor of Triedstone Missionary Baptist Church of this city.

He was a U.S. Army veteran who served in World War II. He would tell me about blatant attacks on his integrity while serving in the army for his country.

Again, after returning to the U.S., he still had to endure acts of prejudice and injustice. If he were alive today, he would rejoice in the coming together of all races — white, black, brown and mixed people — who are not afraid to speak up about the injustice and prejudice of today.

He would have jumped for joy when Barack Obama was elected president of the United States.

When my father’s mother died, he cried out loud and long — just like George Floyd. My father’s best friend was gone, his cheerleader!
Many, like me, no longer have their father and will always miss that strong, dominant figure.

This Father’s Day, reach out to someone of the older generation who is alone and missing loved ones.

Be kind and respectful. Let them know you really care and listen to them tell you about the struggles and triumphs!
Try to listen and understand without becoming bitter and angry. At first, when my father told me his stories, he would speak with hatred about what happened to him in those days.

However, as he aged and developed health problems, he mellowed out and he would think and say, “Why can’t we all get along!?”

I miss those talks with my father and I will always remember his words of wisdom.

Father, reflect on the good times and encourage the young men and women to be proud and of good character.
Encourage them to find a purpose in their life.

Bonnie Holmes
Ironton