by Max Brantley
My father, Manuel Twillie, came from Forrest City, Ark. But that isn’t really true. He grew up on a farm on the outer rim of the tiny town of Colt. The black section. It was called Dark Corner.
Dad would tell us, “Plow to the end of your row.” He had been plowing behind a mule since he was six. My grandfather would remind him and his other brothers, “Plow to the end of your row.” No shortcuts. Everybody had to be accountable for their own row. There’d be more work. Picking cotton. Slaughtering hogs. I remember my father telling me that he’d get an apple, an orange and a few nuts for his Christmas present.
Nothing changes lives and family trajectories more profoundly than a college education. I’ve seen it in my own family. Those “plow to the end of your row” and “stand tall” parents of mine graduated from Philander Smith College in Little Rock. They went on and got advanced degrees. Before long, their children did as well. No more Dark Corner.