December 2, 2013
1. In what year were you born?
2. What were some of the hardships you faced growing up?
3. What was your earliest childhood memory?
4. What was school like for you as a child?
5. What world events had the most impact on you while you were growing up? Did any of them personally affect your family?
6. What is the bravest thing you ever done?
7. What do you feel most proud of in your life?
8. What do you feel least proud of?
9. What did you want to be growing up?
10. What do you want you children and grandchildren to remember about you?
I am blessed to know one of the most influential empowering women who dedicated her life to make sure her family was well taken care of. That person is my grandmother. Hattie Johnson was born October 10, 1931 in Washington D.C. During the 1930’s, the era of the depression occurred. The era of depression made it very difficult for women. Many women struggled to keep their poor families stable, which caused a significant cultural shift that sent married women into the workforce more each day. There were endless debates about whether or not it was good for society, the issue was resolved not by social theorists but by the wives themselves, determined that they and their families would not only survive, but also move up. My grandmother was born in 1931 and faced many hardships, such as work conditions and unemployment. She worked at home, while her husband worked outside of the home. She cooked, cleaned, and took care of her four children, which was considered the norm during those times. According to Burn, today the ratio of women’s unpaid labor to men’s has shrunk not because men are doing so much more but because women have reduced their in-home labor by lowering their standards and when they can afford it, by “outsourcing,” such as buying prepared food and hiring home cleaning services. This is an example of how some things have changed compared to the era of depression. My grandmother explained how hard the conditions were while raising children and being inferior to most men in society. She never had to work, but she always hoped she could have. Because she had four children and had a husband working day to day, it was difficult for her to find herself in society. My grandmother disliked being dependent upon my grandfather and always had hope that things would have been different. One of the questions I asked my grandmother was, what were some hardships she faced, besides work and unemployment? She explained that many times my grandfather would come home drunk and beat on her. She never could understand why he took things out on her, when she made sure everything was taken care of in the household. During then, my grandma explained, there was very little income that caused her husband to become stressed, causing him to drink obsessively. Then, women wouldn’t report such violent activity, due to lack of economic and political power. Today, women’s lower status leads to an acceptance of violence against them by families and authorities, which has not changed much compared to the 1930’s. Throughout the years, many laws have been passed to help limit domestic violence within families and communities. There have been some memorable experiences that my grandmother has shared with me. Amongst all of them, the one thing that grasps my attention was a world event that impacted not just her and her family, but the whole world. She witnessed the “I Have a Dream Speech” by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963. While talking with her about this memorable moment she became so emotional. My grandmother yearned for equality. She described living in harsh conditions and was always looked down upon. Martin Luther King’s words of