Larry Elder

Actor/comedian/musician Jamie Foxx won an Oscar for his extraordinary performance in the movie, "Ray." Foxx also received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in "Collateral."

 Foxx's success is what America is all about. He grew up in Texas, raised by his grandmother. He developed interests in music and sports, and became his high school quarterback. He won a scholarship to U.S. International University in San Diego, Calif., to study classical music and music theory. He can sing, act, play piano and make you laugh -- sometimes all at the same time.

 He credits his grandmother with teaching him right from wrong, and instilling the appropriate values. During his acceptance speech, Foxx praised Estelle Marie Talley, his late grandmother: 

 ...[M]y grandmother...was my first acting teacher. She told me, "Stand up straight, shoulders back. Act like you've got some sense." We would go places and I was wild-eyed. She said, "Act like you've been someplace." And when I would act the fool she would whip me. And she could get an Oscar for the way she whipped me because she was great at it. And after she would whip me she would talk to me and tell me why she whipped me, that "I want you to be a Southern gentleman."

 Foxx's grandmother sounds like my mom.

 My mother grew up in segregated Alabama. She once sat me down when I was 5 or 6. We looked through an illustrated book of presidents, from George Washington to the then incumbent Dwight D. Eisenhower. The book contained a brief description of the significant events of each president's administration, along with their pictures. When we reached Eisenhower, my mother quietly closed the book, and said, "Some day, if you want it bad enough, you can be in this book."

 Such optimism from a woman who once had to enter department stores from the rear. When she tried on a dress, once it touched her black skin, the store required her to buy it, like it or not, ill fitting or not. In the late '40s, she took a commercial plane ride, a rare thing for a black person, let alone a new mom holding an infant baby. When she got to the airport, she had nowhere to sit or stand. Airports, unlike bus and train stations, had yet to carve out a "colored only" section. An airplane agent presented her with a cup of water and suggested an area where she should stand.


Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com.