Today's Black History Moment: On November 12, 1925, Charlie Simon “Sike” Blackwell was born outside of Yanceyville, NC on a family farm that stretched over 150 acres. The Blackwell family was one of the few black families that had the ability to purchase land upon the commencement of the Civil War.
At the age of 18 he joined the US Navy during World War II. Most notably, he participated in the infamous Battle of Iwo Jima against the Imperial Japanese Army. Simon was one of the 2.5 million African American men and women that defended this country abroad in the pacific and Europe, while Jim Crow and institutional racism lingered throughout the American South.
Upon his return to the states, he began a career as a truck driver. At the time, truck driving was a very lucrative career reserved for only white men. Fortunately, his employer cared more about his work ethic rather than his skin color.
However, on more than one occasion he was arrested and jailed for driving trucks because the idea of a black truck driver was unconscionable to many individuals. It is quite amazing that this man faced a greater threat at home than when he fought foreign enemies abroad to preserve our way of life. He continued to drive trucks for over 70 years.
Simon married the late Inez Graves Blackwell and had 8 children, 9 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great-grandchildren. On Friday, February 9, Simon passed away at the age of 92. He was my grandfather.