CHAPTER 3Finding Your Dream

If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.

—Thomas Alva Edison

My family history in America began with slavery. Few beginnings of any life are as crushing to a sense of self or as difficult to overcome. Yet from these hard beginnings came my inheritance of family treasure—stories of courage, perseverance, hard work, and almost unimaginable fortitude.

My great-great-grandparents James and Hattie Riles were born into slavery and as young adults were set free by the Emancipation Proclamation. These new citizens of South Carolina then walked to Greenville, Tennessee. There they managed to purchase 41 acres of property—the same acres that my grandparents Guy and Rheba owned two ...

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