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Maybe God just wanted me to see what it was like to be African-American?

Maybe God just wanted me to see what it was like to be African-American?


Seven decades ago, 405,399 United States citizens gave up their lives so that their loved ones and neighbors would not have to live in a nation controlled by tyrants, bullies and madmen.   “Why We Fight”, the Department of Defense’s indoctrination film for newly inducted men and women,  opened with this statement, “We Americans are going to war to fight for the freedom and welfare of the Average Joe . . . not the rich, not the privileged and not those who subjugate their fellow citizens with a brutal military.” 

Somehow, seventy years after World War II, far too many people in the United States think that the values of the fascist nations, which that brave generation of Americans defeated, are this nation’s “traditional values.”  In our era, if a lie is told enough times, it becomes the truth.  Less any Nazi’s comment be given any credence, as that that old time gospel song goes, “I am gonna be a witness for the Lord.”

The year is 1999.  I moved temporarily to Rome, Georgia from Cartersville, to plan a massive Downtown Revitalization Project along Broad Street and Second Avenue.  When eventually completed, it won all sorts of architectural and historic preservation awards. My other projects were the restoration of the 1845 Adairsville Rail Depot, where the “Great Locomotive Chase” began, and the Downtown Plan for Smyrna, GA . . . which two years later would be named the outstanding Downtown Revitalization Project in the United States by the Urban Land Institute.

I went to church and Sunday School almost every Sunday.  I had never been involved in politics.  I was not actively involved with any Native American tribe and not involved in any research into our past.  In fact, I rarely mentioned my Native heritage unless someone asked me why “I looked a little different.”  I was dating the daughter of the former mayor of Cartersville and spent most of my time with her, when not working.   She lived in the most prestigious neighborhood in Cartersville and her son attended one of the most prestigious private academies in Georgia.  I was even an officer in the local chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.    Thus, I was doing “everything right” to appear to be a “good” conservative citizen of the community.  

Then out of the blue, creepy white males, all dressed in black and yelling taunts about me being a “commie” . . .  began driving their pickups back and forth in front of my rental house on a small mountain overlooking Downtown Rome.  All covered in black is the new “power color” costume of the KKK and their more sociably acceptable next of kin, the Brotherhood of Patriots.  Notes appeared on my front door at night, telling me to get out of town or else.  When I didn’t move, the Nazi’s or KKK’ers or whatever, began driving a black pickup with a seeing eye dog and a wheelchair in the back . . . of course, adorned with Confederate flags.  They were saying that if I didn’t get out of town,  they would make me blind and paraplegic. 

They tried a few times.  Guess their medical expenses deterred any future endeavors on that project. They forgot that I had been a mountain farmer for most of my adult life, before coming back to Georgia. Then they vandalized my car to the tune of $1800 in repairs. 

Then the Rome Police began harassing me and my girlfriend’s teenage son.   Rome Police in their personal cars tried to run the young man  off the road several times on the way back home from school.  One Sunday afternoon, when I was getting money from an ATM on Broad St. before going on a date, three Rome police cars roared up with lights flashing.  All the officers jumped out and pointed their guns at me and told me get my hands up.   After a couple of tense minutes, they put their guns down and told me that they were doing a training exercise.   A couple of weeks later, a Rome police car passed me on my 1/2 mile drive to church.   They then drove back and pulled me over in a parking lot near the church and again pointed their guns at me.  They then charged me with passing them illegally.   

That was the last straw.  I moved 52 miles away from Rome . . . but pretty soon creepy guys in black in Pickens County began to harass me.  I was then informed that unless I did not join the Brotherhood of Patriots, plus the Republican Party, I would have no money, no friends, no girl friend, no wife and no children.   Any engineer or architect with any sense knew not to get involved with political parties.  I thought these creepy people, who loved to wear black, were crazy.  They were crazy alright, but they very quickly gained the political power in the Southeast to break any law they wanted . . . as long as it was for political purposes. 

Their on-going political persecution pushed me into working exclusively for Native American tribes outside of the Georgia.  The eviction notice for Christmas Eve 2009 was to show the people of Pickens County, Jawja what happens to people, who don’t become good Nazi’s.  Well, in my case the Master of Life had other plans.  What happens to them?  They get on the international premier of a prime time TV program on the beginning of the new Maya calendar . . . exactly three years later.

Every time that I start to feel sorry for myself, I realize that since the early 1600s, African folks have been subject to far worse than anything that I have experienced.  Lordamercy . . . look at all the horrific things done to Native Americans, since Columbus landed in the New World in 1492.   These things that I have experienced,  are trivial compared to what has been done to others in the past.

Eventually,  I realized that it was impossible to understand pure evil unless one experienced a little of it.   There can be no compromise with these evil people trying to take over our nation by intimidation and corruption.  They will try to destroy anything they can’t control. They will ultimately destroy the people, they do control.

Just remember my little story in case someone tries to manipulate or pressure you into compromising your spiritual values.  Following the course of least resistance leads to crooked rivers and crooked men.

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.




    I feel your pain on this one. As a five year old (1947), my family drove across North Alabama to GA (destination Atlanta, Gainesville & Athens), and passed through Rome GA.

    A motorcycle cop stopped us and gave dad a traffic ticket (the only one of his life, a WW II vet). Also, Dad noticed that several cars in the area had flip-down license plate covers and Dad explained that meant there were KKK members.

    Some things never change.

    • Yea, I know Joel. I am only 1/4th Native American by DNA . . . so I am really not that “ethnic looking” except in the late summer when I have a nice tan. It didn’t matter with those jackasses. They were just looking for someone to hate.


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