Biography: Influences
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No matter what, Morris Sr. would continue to push the idea of becoming a something more than a farmer into his son's mind. However, he may not have been aware of all the little things that would change his son's life forever. "Daddy also gave black people something that was even scarcer than money - respect." (66) The way Morris Sr. lived his life and treated the people around him in the society of the south had a great impact on his son.

Morris calls Wilson 'nigger'
Morris Sr. never ever used the word "nigger". He had respect for the hands on his farm and he called them by name. He didn't tolerate his family using the word either. Morris Jr. learned this lesson at an early age. He was about five years old. His father was riding in with the horses and he had a hand with him, Wilson. Morris runs out and asks his father if he can ride one of the mules back. His father tells Wilson that it's okay so Wilson lifts Morris and puts him on the mule. At the end of the trip, Wilson asks Morris to get off because they've reached their destination. Morris refuses and says "You black nigger, you can't tell me what to do!". He didn't know it but his father was right behind him. Morris received the first whipping of his life from his father. His father said "Don't you ever call anybody a 'black nigger.' You mind Wilson. You do what he says". (63)

During cotton picking season in central Alabama, the heat can be devastating. The hands work in the fields under unbearable conditions of heat. But in order to make a living, production must continue. To make things easier, Morris Sr. carried water to the hands out in the field.

Ohe day, the heat had taken out one of the hands, George. Back then, people wrapped themselves in a lot of clothing and wraps. The more clothing one had on, the more one perspired. The more one perspired, the cooler one was. George was wrapped up in layers. He had passed out from the heat. Jake Orum and the others carried George over to a tree and laid him in the shade to rest. Then they went back to work. (67)

Morris Sr. had always observed what torture the heat was doing to the hands. Morris Jr. gives the call to return to work. Morris Sr. appears twenty minutes later. He gets out and looks around. He wipes the sweat off his forehead. He decides that it's too hot for the hands to work. He tells his son to tell them off for the day.

"I looked at my watch. 'It's only eleven o'clock. We ain't gonna knock 'em off now. He shook his head. 'No, son we gonna knock 'em off. Ya know, they got feelings just like we do."

With that, the word was final. Morris Sr. had feelings and compassion for the hands. He understood that they too were people and had feelings. If they were suffering in the heat, then the hands were suffering too. Morris Sr. makes sure that his son is aware of this. Morris Jr. realizes that sometimes business wasn't everything.


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