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1.The person I chose to write about on this discussion board is my father. My dad has influenced me the most in my life and his wisdom was particularly important and helped shape who I am today. My father was born at his childhood home in August of 1937. My dad passed away in February of 2019. He was 81 years old when he passed. He was born at home in Appalachia Kentucy and was one of 12 children. Appalachia Kentucky was widely known for poverty and people living in poverty. My father has told me many reflection stories from his past and how it shaped him in his life.
When the Great Depression ended my dad was only four years old. My dad did remember how it was and how they lived. During my father’s childhood his father was a “sharecropper “and the family lived in a small shack on the ‘Boss’ or Owner” of the farm. The shack was a one room shack with one room, no electricity, no running water, wood burner cooks stove and wood burning heat. The family was already struggling before The Great Depression, but it only got worse when The Great Depression did hit. The social conditions he lived in were extremely poor and very destitute. The shack was not adequate for all thirteen children and two parents. To survive living on the farm in the bosses shack my grandpa, grandma, and the children all worked for the farmer. During the great depression food was limited and supplies were scarce, so the family had to improvise and all work together. My grandpa worked the fields, took care of the animals, and mended what needed to be fixed on the farm. My grandma picked vegetables and canned them or the farmers family, cooked, cleaned and baby sit for the farmer’s wife. My grandparents were “paid’ by reviving the shack to live in, having food supplies to can and eat, and free wood they can cut for heat. The farmers’ family would also give my grandparents’ clothing they had outgrown, and my grandma would hem and make clothing for the family. Everything they had was handmade, hand me downs or secondhand. They worked for everything they had. My grandma canned the vegetables and other foods this helped feed the family through the winter months. My dad called the social situations ‘being dirt poor’ because they were and even had dirt floors in the home, they lived in. During The Great Depression existing social service and helping organizations could not deal with the millions in need. Private charitable groups lacked the skills and resources to deal with the tremendous social and economic upheaval. My dad and his family used bartering to get what they could not pay for. They would do services for people such as cooking, cutting wood and trading goods to survive. My dad was raised to ‘believe in hard work and hard work will pay off.”
When World War 2 started September 1, 1939- September 2, 1945, my father was only 8 years old when the war ended. World War 2 helped to create jobs for millions of people. Enlistment in the armed forces and with other employment helped to provide jobs. The war helped to end The Great Depression. During The Great Depression and the war, food was very scarce, and supplies became extremely limited. My dad and his family survived on what they could grow, what they canned, and what they hunted. The war brought social changes because the country was closed to immigration and military personnel were exposed to foreign cultures. It brought full employment and helped end The Great Depression. Many of my dad’s brothers joined the effort to help support the family.
My dad was not “involved” in any of the social movements of the social movements of the 1960’s. This era was marked by the Civil Rights movement, The Vietnam war, and anti-war protests. In 1960 my dad was 23 years old. He had tried to enlist in the Army at the age of 17 but was denied due to having tuberculosis. The Civil Rights Movement was a struggle for social justice that took place during the 1950’s and 1960’s for black Americans to gain equal rights under the law in the United States. The civil way abolished slavery but discrimination continued to exist. My dad would listen to the radio as he had no television. During this time, my dad married and started his own family.my father still worked in the fields living ad he did as a child. He did not go to town much, only out of necessarily. When he did get out into town, he recalls seeing segregated stores, buses, and restaurants. He remembers the struggles over Civil Rights and talked about how his mom got her first job by selling Avon door to door and to her friends. He also would laugh about how my grandma learned how to drive by driving in a field. My dad only attended school until the seventh grade because he was needed at home to work, thus it was hard for him to find gainful employment. As my dad turned into a man more opportunities came to him after the war and he was able to move his family to Ohio, two years after coming to Ohio he was able to purchase his first home for his family. Because of the social changes over time my dad was able to improve his life and his family’s future. When my dad passed away, he was 81 years old and had raised 10 children and 3 grandchildren. He owned his beautiful dream house, and he achieved his dreams all because of social change. One of my dad’s favorite quotes was ‘I didn’t do too bad, as a child born in Appalachia.”
My question for the class is how did social change help benefit your life and your family’s life?
2. Speaking to someone with life experience from a different era is very illuminating because it provides historical literacy to the present realities in society today. I was conversing with someone who lived through the Civil Rights era in the fifties and sixties. At the time, segregation was pervasive in American culture. Being African-American essentially meant being a second-class citizen. There were separate social amenities, schools, and transport infrastructure separations. The push for equality in civil rights was, therefore, a movement to have equal access to America’s social, financial, and political economy. As a social worker, that conversation made me realize that today’s America is the product of the gains in civil liberties in that period.
The civil rights movement was the first time that the country was forced to deal with a minority that agitated for equality and got it. Before that, there were two realities in America minorities and Caucasian-American. Therefore, that struggle created a new social work paradigm in the country. For the first time, there was a consideration of racial minorities as a disadvantaged demographic, with the appropriate allocation of resources to improve the well-being of the demographic through short-term and long-term measures. In the short term, aid in acquiring basic needs such as nutrition and affordable housing programs were introduced. Over a long time, education and sports provided sustained improvement in the standard of life of African-Americans. Getting that personal historical perspective from someone that lived on both sides of the 1964 Act’s divide gives perspective to the benefit of equality in the country (Gatenio & Mapp, 2020, p.428). Social work, therefore, manifests as a proper channel for improving the lives of disadvantaged people through offering distinct interventions to help people raise their living standards and alter their attitudes towards minorities in society.
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