James Brown and the Bootblack
“I was my father’s partner from age 5.”
Earl remembered shining the shoes of the Godfather of Soul, who advised Earl, “It’s an honorable profession. You just need to think about what else you want to do with your life.”
Earl heard similar advice while working as a garbage man for the city of Roanoke. He loved the job because of the camaraderie among the workers, but remembered his coworkers telling him, “Even though you like this job, and you’re good at it, you need to do something else. You can do better.”
Earl’s struggled to tell his father that he planned to attend college and would not take over the barber shop. Yet, he knew all was forgiven when he saw his father in attendance at his graduation. After earning two college degrees, Earl went on to work in community development and in the nonprofit sector, earning jobs as the Assistant City Manager for Roanoke and the Martinsville City Manager. Although he hadn’t planned to attend college, he passed the value of education onto Ashley, who is currently waiting for the results of her bar exam.
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