Ron’s Time Tunnel: My Granddaddy was a Geeenius II




American author, educator, and clergyman, Henry van Dyke once said, “Genius is talent set on fire by courage”. As written, the quote renders a unique definition of genius. The commutative of the quote could be rendered, “Courage, sets talent on fire, to form genius”. The lady in the picture is NOT, of course, Charlie Brown, but her name IS Charlie. She is Charlie Will Thornton: a profile in courage; a talented educator; a fiery Civil Rights Activist, and therefore, by van Dyke’s definition, a GENIUS. She is a local hero in Randolph County.

For many years following the Civil War, Southern government “officials” were relentless in their plot to deny African Americans the right to vote. They diabolically, designed and developed, “tactics” which prohibited and precluded African Americans from voting. One of these “tactics” was to remove registered, African American voters’ names from the roll of registered voters. Other tactics included, but were not limited to;  terroristic violence and economic intimidation, literacy tests, poll taxes, permanent disenfranchisement upon conviction for certain crimes, creation of super-majoritarian districting schemes, ‘grandfather clauses,’ and ‘white primaries’. “In 1956, only 25 percent of all black adults in the South were registered to vote; a number which stood in stark contrast to the 65 percent of all white adults who were registered. In 1960, only 9.1 percent of the voting age blacks in Montgomery County, Alabama, were registered, in contrast to 46.1 percent of the voting age whites. In two other Alabama counties, populated predominantly by blacks, none were registered” (Randall Kennedy).

It was in the hellish heat of the brutally boiling climate of the 1955 South that “officials” removed the names of registered African American voters from the electoral rolls (list of voters), of Randolph County. This type of tactic was nothing new in the South, however, this time, the act would not go uncontested. The African American leaders of Randolph, began a petition for the purpose of garnering enough names of disenfranchised African Americans, to meet the minimal standard required for a class action lawsuit against the County. According to laws of that time, the magic number of “class members” usually required to enjoin this type of legal action was 22 or more. The final number of members who signed the petition in Randolph County was “22”, the “magic number”.

To proceed with the class action lawsuit, one member of the “class” had to be designated the “lead plaintiff”. This person would represent the entire class and, as a matter of fact, all of the disenfranchised African American voters in the County. This courageous person was, Ms. Charlie Will Thornton. She was chosen because she worked outside of the County and thereby, falsely believed, to be beyond the “reach” of the long, gnarled, and crooked arm, of the Randolph County officials. She, however, was not. Although the plaintiffs won the case, Ms. Thornton lost her job and was “black-balled” by all of the surrounding counties’ Boards of Education. She was forced to work, housekeeping, janitorial and other menial labor positions before returning to her true passion, teaching, several years later.

The other 21 members of the “class” were extremely courageous, in their own right, for their names were public and easily within the sweeping grasp of the “long arm” of prejudice, inequality and injustice. Among these names were: Eugene Carter, Sr. (husband of Aunt Vulla the Comet’s sister); Eugene Carter, Jr. (son of Aunt Vulla and the Comet’s nephew); Jule Wynn, (frequent visitor and friend of Charlie Brown), Leroy Lightner, (fellow Church member and Deacon of Charlie Brown; AND last but not least, number 10 on the list of “the Magic 22”, GOOD OLE CHARLIE BROWN. In the case of these 22 people, COURAGE IGNITED TALENT, RESULTING IN TRUE GEEENIUS!








18 thoughts on “Ron’s Time Tunnel: My Granddaddy was a Geeenius II

  1. Pingback: Ron’s Time Tunnel: SINNUS JAYUZ – seekthebestblog

  2. I enjoyed reading this piece but of course it deals with a serious issue that we’re still grappling with even today. We’ve been watching a remake series of Roots by Alex Haley – are you familiar with it. My children always say that they don’t like History but or once they were riveted by the story of how slavery unfolded in the U.S. In fact I think many people have been watching the series these past few weeks. It ends with the freeing of slaves after the American Civil War but it is clear that life would present a new set of challenges for newly freed slaves. So your episode here illustrates how much further the struggle continued for real freedom.

    Our own experience tells its own story about voting rights. Twenty years later – we’re still a fledgling democracy. Thank you for sharing this and the definition of genius Ron.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Chevvy. Your country’s struggles with freedom and justice mirrors the struggles we’ve experienced here. We still live in an apartheid-like system. The movie Roots has opened a lot of eyes. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Ron’s Time Tunnel: My Granddaddy was a GENIUS -Conclusion – seekthebestblog

  4. Pingback: The GeoGee Experience Monthly Wrap Up – The GeoGee Experience

    1. Thanks Roger. How soon we forget. My children’s generation haven’t a clue as too what their ancestors went through, the struggles, the sacrifices made. If they did, they wouldn’t do some of the things they do or say some of the things they say, and most importantly they’d exercise their right of suffrage with pride, a sense of duty, responsibility and dignity.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Woebegone but Hopeful

    Ron, that is a stirring tale of true courage and resolve.
    Puts to shame those who say they can’t be bothered to vote, reminds us all of the price paid for democracy and of the enormous impact of the dignified slow path
    Just has to be reblogged!
    Many thanks for this history.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is concrete well written and informative. You’ve taken a John Grisham tone here – and Iove me some Grisham writing. I got into this one heavy and it held my attention to the last word. Looking forward to what’s coming next.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. What’s up Ron!

    Finally got time to sit my ass down for the duration.

    Another fabulous job you’ve done here. I remember you sharing this story with me rather recently.

    Let me be among the first to say that your family should be so happy that you have culled together and reported all of these gems. Otherwise they might have faded to dust. To me that’s very admirable!

    You’ve got a lot of heroic folks on that Brown side 😉

    Keep that magic coming cous! People really need to know about this stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

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