THE HACKLEY REPORT by Eric Donald Hackley
I would now like to present the Rev. Charles Martin and ask him to speak on how he lifted himself up by his own bootstraps.
The Rev. Charles Martin: Thank you very much, Mr. Hackley. I’m Rev. Charles Martin and I would like to share with you my personal experience in the hope that through the illustration of my life, someone may glean some information that would contribute to their life and help them to see that it is possible to overcome difficult and challenging situations in life.
I am one of 11 children who was victimized by the murder of my father in a small Alabama town called Centerville. A so-called friend murdered him. I do not remember much about my father, but I do know that he brought his paycheck home, at least enough of it to feed his children and pay the rent. I know that’s better stewardship than many of the children [have seen] at the facility where I work. I am a counselor at a prison in Fort Wayne for juveniles. Many of the children there have not seen or heard from their parents in six to 24 months.
By the time I was four years old, my father was dead. All he left behind was a life of difficult challenges, pain and a poverty-stricken family. But, that didn’t stop mom. She packed our bags and moved the 11 of us here to Fort Wayne. Mom did her best, but all of us did not survive. First my sister died, then my brother and then finally mom. But strangely enough, I never did blame God. I just recall, when I needed someone, He was always there. But, to think about the odds of staying alive in the unfortunate environment of the poor class and coming out educated, tears trickle from my eyes. Because I realize that not only did God keep me in his providential care, but He kept me in the protective custody of his strong hands.
I dropped out of Central High School in the 12th grade but, some four or five years later, I went back and obtained a G.E.D. What encouraged me to do that is the recommendation of the people I associated with. I was working as a short order cook at IPFW. One of the nurses there that I went to when I was ill, recommended that I go talk to a guidance counselor. From there, he encouraged me to enroll in a two-year program called Mental Health Technology. I enrolled in that program and was satisfied with being in that program because it helped me to understand some of the things that were occurring within me psychologically.
After the completion of that program, with a lot of fear and intimidation, I enrolled in a bachelors degree program. I completed that program while working two jobs. Then I went on and enrolled in a masters degree program at Ball State University. I completed that program and went to work for the Fort Wayne State Developmental Center. I started of as a direct care worker and I was soon elevated to the position of director.
In my later years, I decided that being in administration was not satisfying to me. So I transferred to my current job and I now work as a counselor with the teenagers that I mentioned to you earlier.
It is my belief that if you persevere and stick to your goals and objectives, eventually you can overcome the hindrances and obstacles that you face. Remember, it’s all about sticking to your goals, believing in something and tackling it until it is accomplished.
Thank you for listening.
Eric Hackley is a veteran independent journalist, television show host and producer focusing largely on history, particularly family history in the black community. His award-winning public access television shows have featured a host of local and national icons. Hackley can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in the July 31 print edition.