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Monologue by Maury Gillis

Gillis, Maury
Smith, Alan
Date of Interview: 
Overcoming obstacles; Relationships with people and places; Tolerance and respect
Maury Gillis talks about his life, growing up as an African American in a rural area and coming to live in Charlotte.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Alan Smith interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
MG (Maury Gillis): Now, how loud do I need talk? Do I need to talk loud? That's fine? This fine? OK. I guess I'm going to start talking about, man, just my-, you know me and you from the same hometown and what not, and, you know, how we came up, how, especially through school, and stuff, how, how, I don't know, you ever felt like-, well you probably can't answer it, but, our area kind of oppressed me in a sense, as far as, when I came to Charlotte, coming up, I realized that I lived a sheltered life as far as not being exposed to different cultures and things of that nature. Not necessarily cultures, it's just that I feel like my overall perception of things was just narrow minded based on where I was from or where we're from. And going to North Moore with the people we went to school with, there was only like a select few that actually got anything, I'll say outside of their community, which would be people who actually had money was able to go places and see things, and experience different things coming up. Like, uh, Elizabeth Thigpen. You know, they got-, you know they were a little more diverse in terms of being exposed to things than, than myself, or I'll say a lot of people from there, because there, there was not really that many, what you consider rich folks, in Robbins anyway. But, um, I don't know, I guess when, when I came to Charlotte it opened my eyes to a lot of things. I got taken advantage of a whole lot by being naive to certain things, or certain people. You know, you come up, well we came up with, I'm not going to say everyone we came up with was nice and was looking out for your best interests. 'Cause I'm going to tell you, going to school and seeing, uh, "Kill all nigger babies," on the wall, I don't know if you experienced that or not in the smoking area. That was something. That was something. That was an eye-opener in a sense to me, to where I was like, "OK, well, I know they don't like us." Us being black folks. But, I don't know, uh, I knew that there was people there that didn't care for us or whatever, but I knew that was worldwide, it just wasn't at Robbins. Uh, but when I got out, of the area and moved to Charlotte, it was just an eye-opener. It was almost like a taste of freedom in a sense. You know, you've always been free, we was always free, but I guess when we got out, it's like when I got out, it's like I was a wild man, as far in terms of what I can do, being on my own, being free. Just being able to experience different things from just coming and going as I want, going to different places whether it be Comedy Zone, uh, poetry reading, stuff of that nature. Stuff that we weren't exposed to coming up 'cause, it was just one thing or another, you know, it was the woods. So you weren't exposed to nothing, nothing at all but riding around going down the dirt road drinking some beer, smoking a cigarette [laugh]. That was-, shoot, at was the most fun we had. And we had a, a station wagon we used to ride in, called the Power Wagon, and me, Michael, Alex, and Demarus, would go buy some, uh, little cigars, little cigarette cigars, I don't know what you call them, Dutch Masters or something like that, we used to go on them back roads and smoke about seven of them apiece, be about, we thought we was twisted. We're here in that station wagon going down that dirt road, man, just sliding from side to side. Mike would just spin the car from side to side, side to side. Uh, shoot, we had a couple a girls in the car at the time, too. I mean, I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be talking about this, but hey, if we're going to keep it real [laugh] yeah, we had a couple of girls in the car and we had us a good time. I'm not going into too much detail with that, but, uh, just put it this way, we had a good time. But shoot, that was the most fun we had coming up, in terms of things we that considered exciting outside of sports. Sports was always an outlet. Shooting ball, getting into the gym. Always got the key to get into gym to play on Friday and Saturday nights. Guess that kept us out of a lot of trouble, but you know that only lasts for so long. You know when school is over, your high school days is over, you know, there's nothing there left for any young black male or female to do, besides get in trouble. As you know there's a lot of, uh, brothers, well, I ain't say a lot, there's a few brothers there that couldn't find there way out, couldn't find there way out of high school. Went straight to the streets trying to sell dope in the smallest city in the world, knowing everybody was going to know. That's the craziest thing I, I never can understand how you could figure you can sell dope, ride around in nice cars, and they know you ain't working nowhere 'cause ain't nobody paying nothing. And they see you everywhere, all the time, day and night. You can't hold no job, but, you know, those folks, I feel sorry for them, my heart goes out to them. You know, the only thing I pray for them sometime they see the light but, I don't think they ever-, well, I ain't going say I don't think they'll ever see it because that'll be kind of negative, I pray that they'll see it one day, in terms to where they can just, you know, I don't know, I don't know what it would take to, for some people to get a wakeup call. I feel like, certain people have had wakeup calls and didn't, didn't heed to it. And I think after you go through so many it's kind of like what your brother said to me, "Your blessings kind of run out." Like you, you have a opportunity to, um, repent, get your soul right based off certain things, or the Lord will call on you to, to, uh, you know, open your heart to him or give you heart to him and let him take care of things, and he'll put things in front of you to, to-, I think it's like what I said, like a wakeup call. Certain people don't answer to it. I think the next step to that is death. 'Cause you had-, I-, that's just the way I feel. But, not to go off on a tangent about that, um, I feel like certain people, back to what I was saying, have had wakeup calls, and hadn't answered to them and still doing the same thing, still doing the same thing. And the funny thing about that situation is when, when I think of a particular person I'm thinking about is not like his home life was wrecked to where he would have to resort to living that kind of lifestyle. I have a cousin of my own, who is actually due to get out, um, this weekend, well, not this weekend, ah, what is it, what is it, what month we in, May? May, I think it's in May? No? We're in April, we're almost in May. I think he's due to get out next month and, uh, I hope he gets his self straight. That's another situation where getting bored and where we would shoot ball and, you know, cut up on a dirt road, these fools feel like they want to rob a store. And there goes most of his adult life-hood, or young adult life-hood, most, the prime of his life anyway 'cause I think he'll be 25 when he gets out. I think he's been gone for like seven years, think he's like 19, probably less than 19 when he went. And to me that such a waste, but, you know, you can't really say it's a product of your environment, 'cause there's more that came out of Robbins that did good than did bad. But there was just some of those that was just so weak-minded that it let, let their imagination go to more devious things. We were thinking about fun. They were thinking about getting paid or I don' know, it may've been their version of fun for all I know. But, this is a deep situation, something to really think about, you know. You know out of the maybe 10, 12 brothers, you-, I can probably think of four or five, oh maybe less than that, I'll say out of 20 brothers, maybe four or five that chose that route, whether it be drugs or, just robbing and stealing, just things that-, you know, that, I mean the ratio is good compared to, you know, most places in terms of people doing things, going places, and trying to make something of their life. So, but the, the few, the select few, you know, is what, what concerns me, even though it's just such a small amount, you know it's still the brothers that's messed up his life. And, uh, coming up the way we, up in the area we came up, I think it was expected for us to do certain things like that. They look at us like, "OK, well that's typical," rather as looking at it in shock. I think from the area we're from certain people expected us to act wild and, and do crimes and, you know, act like we didn't have any upbringing, and it's sad that those few who actually went through those things and did those things, you know, actually, you know, uh, what's the word I'm looking for? They actually, uh, a few bad apples just spoiled it for, for all of us who came up in that area, you know, 'cause they-, those few people were, you know images, or the lifestyle they portrayed reflected on all of us at some, at some point, whether it be those before us and those came, you know, after us. Those who came after us, uh, it'll reflect on those that come up after them, you know. But hopefully sometime, maybe sometime in the future, it'll change but the way Robbins is, is I don't think that place will ever change, you know. Those folks are going to be those folks. Those attitudes and ways of life are going to be their ways of life until the end of time. It's sad to say that, but I really believe that those feelings and thoughts and, are deeply rooted. And I think they're sent down to their kids as well, and they feel the same way, brought up the same way. I'm not saying all, but a majority. But enough about that I was, blessed enough to be bought up in a home to where, my grandmother cared enough about us to teach us morals and respect, teach us how to go out in the world and live respectably, work hard, you know, earn your keep, and you'll have things. And we were bought up, me and my cousins was bought up with, you know, just having respect for others, and self respect for yourself first and foremost is the most, you know, important thing. And like I said, respecting others and just having morals and respect for yourself is the, is the biggest thing, and I think it's one of the keys to life, in terms of, you know, having things, and, and my guess, in terms of just living, living a prosperous life, and of course, you know, having the Man up above in your life, is always the key. But, when my grandma and them came up, of course they was living off the land, my grandfather he was, he was a farmer. He raised pigs, and cows, had a mule. And my grandma was one of the few, well, most of her brothers and sisters stayed around, a few of them went up north to make a living which was in New York, everyone was moving to New York to make a living. Grandma was on of the ones that stayed around, and was more so, uh, I what I call a homebody, for lack of a better word, who really didn't want to go anywhere, wanted to stay close. And I think what she learned through, by staying close and learning from her father, she sent down through us. But there were a few of her sisters that actually went up to north to live and make a living and they did really well, came back and built nice brick houses and they lived fine. But when they left here they left with, you know, the same morals and principles that we lived by, or that we were bought up by, because what she taught us, she got from her mother and father, so, back to what I'm saying, I'm just thankful for that. But coming here, you know, I was able to, take that upbringing and those morals and things, and apply them to my life now and I can say I've done pretty well for myself. I mean, I can always say that I wish I'd done better. There are some things that I could have done and some mistakes I wished I hadn't have made, but overall it could've been worse. So, I look at it as a positive thing. I look at it as a motivational factor as well in terms of taking, you know, what I've learned and what I've been through and applied it in a positive way even though it may be negative things that I may be using or applying. There's always a way of turning that around, and that's a goal of mine right now is, is to, to feel complete and have peace, with myself. I don't have inner peace, based off certain situations and things in my life that I haven't come to terms with or I'm not doing as I should. But I'm working on that and, uh, God-willing I'll be able to get that situation corrected and have peace before I leave here. So, that's one of my goals presently, is to be able to look at myself in the mirror and be happy, totally happy, feeling like I'm doing everything that I need to do, or I'm doing everything in my power in order to have that inner peace. That's, that's the most important thing to me right now. And I don't, I don't think if it wasn't for, back to what I was saying about the morals and respect, if it wasn't for that being instilled in me, that wouldn't be one of my concerns, but it is. It's one of my concerns and goals to have accomplished by, you know, I haven't even put a term on it, I just want to have it done, uh, as soon as possible. I haven't even put a time frame on it, which I probably should, 'cause it's just more so putting a plan in action, making it happen. But I don't know, it's a, it's a crazy world. You live day-to-day, not knowing if you're going to see tomorrow or not. Yet, and still, we still live as if we going to see to next year, tomorrow, next week, next weekend. And it's kind of crazy in not knowing, you know, the unknown is the most scariest thing, and our life is basically the unknown, 'cause you never know. You know, you might not wake up in the morning, but I'm living as if I am, you know, I'm living as if I'm going to have another day to get my life together, my situation corrected, my, you know, peace within myself. I act like I have a time frame, which I really don't. So I need to be acting as if, "OK, I need to be doing-."