Mr. Gilmore's Bravery and Buying a Bank

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Cheryl Brown's picture

Gilmore's 90th Birthday - Much to Celebrate

I attended out of respect, I left in awe"

It was minus ten degrees in Cambridge on this particular night (at least it felt like it was). It was February and the start of Black History Month. So I attended the book signing to support the African American featured in the book who had just turned 90 years old. If nothing else, I would attend out of respect, right?

Mr. Gilmore is over ninety years old, as such, you'd assume that he'd accomplished something, at least a thing or two if only as a result of his longevity. So I sat listening to a long bio about his heroic contributions in the war, his receiving the highest medal of honor from France (an honor by the way that should have been bestowed on him by the US) but because of slavery and prejudice, he was viewed as nothing by the very country that he fought for. Despite the snub and disrespect he received upon his return to the states, he moved past that.

Mr. Gilmore remembered walking hand-in-hand with his mother as a young lad listening to her tell of how her parents were slaves and how they were kidnapped, raped, beaten, and abused. And despite the horrendous hardships African Americans suffered his mother taught him to be a good steward over his life and especially over his money. Following the example of his mother who was an entrepreneurial business owner, he learned business acumen and went on to himself own restaurants night clubs, and yes, even a bank. When banks refused to lend money to him because of discriminatory red lining laws, even though his financial records were pristine, they denied him based on the color of his skin; Gilmore did not fold, he did not quit. Gilmore bought a bank. He became the lender, instead of the borrower. This took time, but he did it.

Mr. Gilmore attributes much of his success to luck. After meeting him, his smile shines forth with the perfect combination of humility, chance, genius, and favor. After nearly a century, Mr. Gilmore still glows with dignity and grace. I was most inspired by his smile and enriched by chance.

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