There are times when I can’t believe how lucky I am to get to earn my living the way I do. And I don’t mean getting to spend my days in the gym, lifting and playing around whenever I feel like it (although that doesn’t hurt either...) No, the greatest part of my work comes from getting to interact and work with and alongside people like you.
I apologize if that sounds hokey, but it’s absolutely true.
Today’s Member Highlight is no exception. Today I would like to introduce you to one of our newest members, but one who has quickly found his way into my heart and earned my admiration, Dwight “D.B.” Williams.
Dwight has only been at the gym since June of this year. He trains twice a week, Wednesdays and Fridays in the 11:30 class. Dwight is of an older generation, one not as comfortable with email and electronic forms of communication. I sent him my initial questions and got back one line answers. Not satisfied, I probed deeper and what followed was an hour long conversation. I will try to pick out snippets from our talk but, if you have the time, take a listen to file at the end of this blog. A word of caution, use headphones if you’re at work or around the kids, I tend to cuss when I get excited...
First off, can you give me the quick stats on Dwight? (age, marital status, pets, that sort of thing.)
60 years old, divorced, no pets.
Dave: You were married?
Dwight: I was married. I was married for about two years. I was 30 years old. The young lady was 20. There was a kid involved and I thought that I would try and do the right thing...Everybody, they told me not to, but just the idea of my son not having a father everyday...So, I gave it go. And it didn’t work out, I had a lot of mother-in-law problems...
What's your proudest accomplishment?
I survived the 60s and 70s.
Dave: For the benefit of our clients who may not have been conscious during the 60s and 70s, what do you mean you survived?
Dwight: For the people who don’t know me, I am a black man. In 1960, I was six years old.
At 12 and 13 you start to get a feel for the news. My father was a Pentecostal preacher and he didn’t really explain things.
[I struggled] with adolescence, economic depression, segregation all at the same time. And...there’s no manual for it...You gotta get into survival mode and do what you can ‘cause you’re here. [At that time] some people [were] getting killed for simple [things like] trying to go to school or church...
Dave: You told me you went to high school in Vestavia.
Dwight: Yeah, in 1970 we were bused into Vestavia Hills.
Dave: What was your neighborhood? Where did you grow up?
Dwight: I grew up in a place called Oxmoor. It’s called Oxmoor Valley now. It was a very rural area.
Dave: Over there by where the Lakeshore Parkway goes through?
Dwight: Absolutely. Now, Vestavia Hills that was a whole new culture shock. They bused us there. They told us, “We’re going to even the playing field for you.” Well, you get to Vestavia Hills on a school bus and you got about 10 or 15 minutes before class and you notice that there are some kids in your class that are being brought to school by a chauffeur...You got chauffeur driven limousines coming up to the school [to drop off these kids] and you’re like, “The playing field is even?”
When I was in the black school system I held my own in class, but when I got to Vestavia Hills I didn’t have a clue.
Editor’s note: I can’t even begin to give this section its due. Dwight has been through so much. From being singled out to sit at the front of his class (not the front row, the front of his class) simply because he was the only black kid in class, to his home experience of having to get up every morning at sunrise to feed hogs and chickens, and milk cows, to dropping out of high school as a sophomore in 1974, and joining the navy, Dwight has been through a lot. Indeed, surviving the 60s and 70s was one hell of an accomplishment. One worth noting and respecting.
And this is why I highly recommend listening to the full interview. You can stream or download it here. Listen in and learn the full story of how Dwight joined the navy, how he initially failed the test and how his recruiter "helped" him until he could pass and enlist. Learn more about what it was like to be one of a handful of black students in Vestavia Hills during the 70s. Learn why the bald eagle is Dwight's favorite animal, why Al Green Trumps Otis Redding, why Batman trumps Superman, and the story behind Dwight's first album purchase even though he didn't have anything to play it on.
Agoge Fitness Systems is unique. We are a family of individuals drawn together from a wide variety of backgrounds and personal stories. We are unique and our stories are the history of what shaped us and made us who we are. We've all struggled, some perhaps more than others, but it's our struggles that make us. Sharing these stories of triumph and failure is vitally important, both in our own growth as individuals and as a community. I'm thrilled to be able to offer these interviews and I look forward to talking with you soon. Look for my email because before long it will be your turn. I can't wait to hear what you have to tell.
To our perfect imperfection,