by Thomas Ledford
Dear friends and family,
With words that come from my heart, I’d like to tell you of myself, in hopes people may see and know that there are folks with soul and with heart all over. I am 46 years old. My mom was Cherokee and German, my Dad was Irish American and we lived in Dalton, Georgia. I am the youngest of nine kids. We lived in what is called Newtown.
My mom being a “halfbreed” and my Dad being fair-skinned, they were seen the same as a Black person with a fair-skinned person. I grew up as the only non-black American on my street till mom passed on Sept. 21, 1981.
I caught the bus, went to school, got off the bus with my friends who were family and still are, even today. My very first friend was Kino Morris, and I did not look at him as Black till he told me that people made fun of us ‘cause he is Black and I’m white. He and I experienced this from white Americans as well as Black Americans.
We stayed true and slowly I became more Black than fair-skinned white. My complexion, from being in the sun, makes me look Hispanic or Indian.
Now we’re 8 years old and Kino, my friend, gets sick while we’re playing football one morning. I ran and got my mom and she got his grandfather. Kino goes to the hospital and is flown by helicopter to Atlanta, for his kidneys went bad and he needed dialysis. He stayed in Atlanta for like two months. We went to see him till his release to a Chattanooga hospital.
I caught the bus, went to school, got off the bus with my friends who were family and still are, even today. My very first friend was Kino Morris, and I did not look at him as Black till he told me that people made fun of us ‘cause he is Black and I’m white.
No one could not tell me that he and I were not brothers and all of our friends were family. Church on Sunday and Wednesday, we would take turns going to each other’s church. Hey, I knew the first time I went to church with Kino and his family and the choir began rejoicing, I knew that Jesus don’t like how all the racists have done the ignorant things they do.
Plus, the way the choir sang and folks praised changed my life forever. I still got flaws and habits and I am a repeat offender. But I remember that moment how being the only white person in church, I knew Jesus put me there.
Hey, I know the struggle of Black America and poor white America. The people who run America for the wrong reasons categorize us and separate us for their benefit. To this day, I know they would like a civil riot to pop off so they can blame it on “white and Black hatred”!
I can’t make no one be raised how I was, knowing we are all human and that racism comes from the power of Satan. Me alone going to prison and seeing how other folks grew up, me proving I’m real. I fought as a child ‘cause I looked like some folks who perverted the Bible and the cross.
The way the choir sang and folks praised changed my life forever. I still got flaws and habits and I am a repeat offender. But I remember that moment how being the only white person in church, I knew Jesus put me there.
I chose by my own free will to be able to hold my first girlfriend’s hand in school, on the bus and walking her home. Her name was Sheneda Banks and some people did not agree with our relationship. We were kids! My mom told me, “If you are her boyfriend, then be her boyfriend that sees her, hears her and don’t be afraid of what people may say.”
So you know from that time I learned and I’m still learning. Humans are very mentally f_ _ _ _ _ up! I would take this time as I write to say that I stand with you, Black America, as I did growing up. Laughing, crying and playing sports even when we get aggressive, we ALWAYS remembered that soul, spirit and love are a must in church.
I know of the Black Panthers from the childhood my mom blessed me with. I deeply do understand! Even today at 46 years old, Aryan Brotherhood members are like, “Hey, whose side you on?” Side? An American wearing a swastika!
The cross represents Christ, who by His grace, mercy and love was nailed to one to die and shed his blood and be raised the third day. Not just for white people, Jesus shed his blood for Black, White, Red and Yellow and Mixed peoples. Jesus said people would be like they are, followers of the Father of all lives.
I understand what “standing up” is for. And it is getting worse every day. The newspaper you sent proved that much and more and it saddens me to know of all the men locked up for trying to make life better for their family.
I gave the newspaper to a young Black dude. He did not know of the Black National Anthem and wishes to know all the anthem. It shocked me because even I knew and I know why it was written and whom it is for. “That is not racist!”
I understand what “standing up” is for. And it is getting worse every day.
I could go on and on. I pray someone reads this and will know Thomas Ledford of Dalton, Georgia, will never forget where he comes from. I do not like racists, period! I feel the suffering and mourning of all the victims who have lost their lives in the name of hate and the ignorance it inflicts on all the beautiful people who are not scared and ashamed to be a friend and family with peoples who are Black, white, Hispanic, Asian etc.
I’m in Georgia prison in a solitary confinement program known as Tier II. Right now, I cannot go to the store or get news of current events, I get no library books, I get not one bit of music. The newspaper you sent is like getting a Christmas present. So please when you’re able, send me another newspaper. I will send you stamps when I get to that phase of Tier II. I deeply desire to stay in touch.
I want the right people to know how we all are treated in Georgia’s Tier II Program. I want people to know how some guys lose their minds because if for 90 days or more you don’t get someone writing you, then you gotta be very strong. I’m in cell with a cellmate and cannot flush my toilet. We don’t go to the showers for about a month because the guards will let another cell pop out and let someone get jumped and stabbed.
I got one pair of boxers. I put in a clothing request and got boxers with a boo-boo stain two months ago. The warden told me: “Damn, they been washed. I can’t help. You got what they got.” I do not care about a lawsuit! It is about humans’ basic rights being neglected. I have to use indigent postage.
I’m locked down for being forced to defend myself. I have a hit on my life due to who the individual was. I did request protective custody but was denied and had to defend myself.
Send our brother some love and light: Thomas Ledford, 586863, GSP G3-14, 2164 GA Hwy 147, Reidsville GA 30499.
Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, The Black National Anthem
by James Weldon Johnson
Lift ev’ry voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring.
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise,
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast’ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Here now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.