This handsome gentleman is my paternal grandfather:
Dr. Fitzroy Egerton Younge Sr. was born in Buxton, British Guyana, South America in 1903. He came to the United States in 1928 to join his older brother in attending Meharry Medical College. While completing his residency in Kansas City, he met my grandmother, Winifred. Though he had been planning to practice medicine in Great Britain, he scrapped those plans and decided to get married, move to California, and establish an Obstetrics practice in the Bay Area.
My grandfather was an elegant and deeply intellectual man. I was slighty afraid of him, and in awe of his proper West Indian accent and the pile of books he kept nearby. As such, we did not talk much. When he died in 1994, I did not know his life story – the details of his life in Guyana, his journey to America, his path to becoming a doctor, or how he met my grandmother. Luckily I know some of this information today due to the fact that in 1986 he decided to take some autobiographical notes and write his story down. Because his story was preserved through writing, I am now able to share my family’s history with my students.
Younge House is beginning the 4th grade Oral History Project, an incredibly fascinating way to delve into the immigrant stories that surround us. Each student will interview an immigrant in their life. We will record their words and transcribe them. Using that transcription we will craft a story and then illustrate it to make a picture book.
Collecting the oral histories of immigrants in our lives is an important task. We will talk a lot about preserving the integrity of their journeys and emotions and communicating that in meaningful ways to other people. In this way we will add to the historical record of our country and celebrate the diversity that makes America so great.