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Posted July 9, 2009
Douglas Wallace knows what it is to be poor.
Not just poor, but devastatingly, hopelessly, mind numbingly poor. Not knowing where the next meal would come from, never knowing if the place you slept last night would be the place you sleep tonight, and doing whatever it took - whatever it took - to survive. Generation after generation of the Wallace family existed in an endless cycle of poverty, cruelty and violence.
The short version of his story is that he got out and became a millionaire. The longer version tells a tale of "living on the razor's edge of survival." In his memoir he imparts the wisdom he gained from his experiences in the "depths of generational poverty" and tells how he broke the chains that bound him to this way of life.
Wallace's turning point came in the third grade, when he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. His answer of "Lawyer" began a ripple of laughter and whispering throughout his class. A friend explained to him that he could not afford college, and that was the first time he ever considered that there might be limitations on ambitions. He went to talk to his principal who encouraged him to "establish realistic goals" and consider farming.
"Like acid on copper, the whole episode is etched in memory," he said. "I knew then that if I were to have a life, if I were to look beyond my circumstances, I would have to make it happen on my own."
Wallace's awakening, and source of strength, came through a spiritual experience in which he first encountered the phrase that would dominate his emergence from poverty.
"One night in the woods, I saw an immensely bright and comforting light, and I heard the words, 'Everything will be all right,'" Wallace said. "I couldn't see anyone there, but I heard the words plain as day, and I knew they were meant for me. Those words comforted me and showed me the way when I was feeling lost."
Growing up in the ghettos of Nashville was no easy task, either, with violence not just part of the culture, but rather, a way of life. Eventually, the threats of violence at his high school forced him to drop out and join the Job Corps, which offered young people education, job training, career counseling and the opportunity to earn a GED.
Wallace graduated from the Corps at an accelerated pace and entered the University of Wisconsin with a complete financial aid package. After making the mistake of dropping a class he did not enjoy, Wallace was no longer considered a full time student. The military spared no time in drafting him. He spent his 21st birthday in Korea working as a company clerk.
Upon his return to the States, Wallace found full time work and enrolled in college at night. He supported his family to the best of his ability, even taking his younger brother under his wing and into his home. He encouraged his brother to go to college and was very proud when he seemed to be doing well.
Wallace applied to and was accepted to Woodrow Wilson College of Law in the fall of 1973, and began a journey that ended with him selling his legal firm to Synovus, making him a multi-millionaire. It was a journey almost arrested before it began by the callous words of his school principal. But Wallace would not be crushed and he would not be turned from his path by cruel words.
"His words would have crushed most boys' dreams forever," he wrote in his memoir. "But I was lucky. They didn't come near to where my soul resides."
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Posted May 26, 2013
Wallace gives readers the privilege to take a chance to look through the eyes of a Southern boy who was born into poverty, and their reward is to witness his growth into a man that allows us to change our outlook on life. He was the one who stood up just to grasp a different perspective on life, and also the one who "broke the chain". The author tells his story of how he learned to exude self-confidence and fought to be smarter and mostly self-sufficient. The copious amounts of belief and determination aided to his success and glory where one could sympathize and root for our hero simultaneously as we relive his tales of woe. His lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer was frowned upon and sadly, many people doubted him. Overcoming many obstacles and arduous tasks rendered him so profitable that he was able to retire with financial freedom and actually live to tell his story. It's written with such heart and conviction that one may want to shed a tear with him as we walk more than a mile in his shoes. Many will learn from Wallace's experiences in this wonderful story of hope and find his positive actions to be inspiring. The will to merely live is what kept the author motivated for so long, and should teach people around the world that hope lives inside, not on the outside.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 25, 2009
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (9/09)
"Everything Will Be All Right," Douglas Wallace's memoir, has given me a whole new perception of the reality and emotional scars of alcoholism, abuse, and violence resulting from life in the streets, with the accompanying cycle of generational poverty. Born into poverty in the rural South, the Wallace family moved from one small town in the backwoods of upstate Tennessee to another, as their alcoholic father drifted from job to job. In 1955 Doug's father uprooted his family to move to an industrial neighborhood in Granite City, Illinois in hopes of increased employment opportunities.
The familiar patterns of frequent job changes and rental evictions did not change. The family soon moved back to Tennessee and ultimately settled in East Nashville. Wallace, the third born of the eight Wallace children, reveals the lessons he learned and the social dynamics which are determined from the environment, the streets of East Memphis, the deplorable conditions of the massive government housing projects, and the danger and risk of showing fear. Wallace stated it this way, "I acted like a tough street kid, but inside I was a scared person desperately wanting out of the environment." He told of his disappointment when his older brother was forced to drop out of high school to help support the family because of the devastating poverty and a despicable alcoholic father, who couldn't hold a job to support his family.
At the age of twelve on the way home from a visit with his brother to a local church "revival," Doug had a religious experience that impacted his life. From that point forward he often heard and responded to an inner voice assuring him, "Everything Will Be All Right." Early in his childhood he purposed with determination to become an attorney. He never lost this vision. Doug candidly recounts the struggles he faced as he persevered in following his dream to fruition.
Wallace's writing conveys the close-knit bonding of deep family ties and of his loyalty to a caring mother. His suffered the discomfort, difficulty, determination, and personal sacrifice to adjust to the expected norms of a middle-class society. This embarrassment was yet another hurdle Doug had to overcome in the discovery and formation of his personal identity. He served in the Army in Viet Nam. Later he took a full-time job and college night classes. These challenges were only a part of Wallace's journey to fulfilling his dream of becoming a licensed attorney.
Doug chose to write his story of growing up in poverty in an effort to call attention to the unimaginable hardships for the generationally impoverished. It is his hope that his story will influence his readers to overcome the seeming insurmountable obstacles they face with the same resolute will, unrelenting drive, and indomitable faith that empowered him.
"Everything Will Be All Right" turns circumstances to vision, vision to purpose, purpose to perseverance, and perseverance to accomplishment. Douglas Wallace's story is disturbing and unforgettable with an inspiring message of hope for any one struggling to raise themselves above their circumstances.
Posted August 5, 2009
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Posted November 3, 2009
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