Ben Howard lived through almost the entirety of the twentieth century. He was born the son of a slave and sharecropper in 1902. He died in 1994. Now, his daughter Dorothy Okeefe shares her story and the legacy of courage and conviction her parents left her. Under the Chinaberry Tree is an amazing testament to one family's unbreakable bonds of love and loyalty.
Ben Howard was a black man in the Jim Crow South, which was eating itself up with hatred and bigotry. Many would have decided to keep their heads down and not stand out, but Ben took a huge risk the second he approached his future wife, Salina.
Salina was black, but she looked white. Ben had to pretend to be her chauffeur just so he wouldn't be killed on the spot. They had to hide their son so no one would mistake him for a mixed-race baby. Undeterred, Ben persevered and passed on his work ethic and inner strength to Okeefe, called Lindsey in the memoir, and his other children. Their story is entwined with those of hundreds of Southern families who faced the same deadly prejudice of that time in history.
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About the Author
Dorothy Okeefe was born in 1933 in Mississippi and attended the nation's first convent for black girls in New Orleans in the 1940s. She is now living in northwest Indiana.
Okeefe's father died in 1994, with her by his side. She began writing her memoir as a tribute to him and as a way to share her parent's history with her sons, daughter and grand children.
Okeefe is tremendously proud of her son, a retired technical instructor who with the help of his brother helped build his grandfather's house and make this book possible. Now retired with a BS degree he has keen interest in politics and the evolution of society.
She hopes that a true account of life in a time of great prejudice will inspire readers to always look forward, striving to learn and overcome obstacles forging the future for a greater America.