My Grandad, Cecil J. Riley Sr. Essay

1545 WordsDec 12, 20167 Pages
My grandad, Cecil J. Riley Sr. was born on Sept. 6, 1921 in Auburn, Alabama (Cecil J. Riley Sr., 2004). Grandad served in the U.S. Army during WW2, it is unknown where exactly he was stationed (Cecil J. Riley Sr., 2004). In his later years, he moved to Oneida, New York where he owned and operated his own dry cleaning business, Riley 's Esquire Dry Cleaning (Cecil J. Riley Sr., 2004). Having business in several locations: Canastota, Oneida, Syracuse, Utica and Morrisville, New York, my grandad was a successful businessman (Cecil J. Riley Sr., 2004). Given his social location this was a remarkable achievement. Unfortunately not everyone saw this as a remarkable achievement, and during the 70s many people in the local areas tried to protest against Grandad’s business. Grandad was Irish and Seminole Indian, however, on most documents that I’ve seen he was categorized as Negro. This is due to the fact that until 1960 the census wouldn’t allow people could select their own race (Elafros, A.). Prior to that, an individual’s race was determined by census takers (Elafros, A). If my grandad’s race was perceived to be African American, I can only imagine what other kinds of discrimination he faced. Regardless of his Irish roots, Grandad fell on the subordinate side of the traditional color line. People only saw his skin color and sadly enough that was their excuse as to why they were protesting against his business. In the book, The Black Experience in America, Norman Coombs paints a

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