This book is dedicated to all the former Kings and Queens from the Continent of Africa where Black people were Royalty. They were kidnapped, Tricked, Stolen away over from their home land of Mother Africa against their will. Some were sold, some were stolen, some were tricked and some were trapped like wild animals. However they ended up in America the Beautiful, land of the free for some and the home of the brave for some (some of them paid the highest price of death for being brave).
I know that had an effect on Dennis. It was very different for Dennis than it did me I rebelled, He on the other hand took note and did something about it. He was an entrepreneur at a very young age, He had a lot of white friends or shall I say he got along with a lot of white people they loved him and he loved them. He has white friends till this very day. I don’t think that he ever had a negative racial incident, if he did? It was resolved quickly. He’s a great storyteller has an eye for detail, He loves people and has always been unapologetically Black and has a love for his Black people. No person has ever accused him of being racially selective or being prejudice “which he is not” never has been, He’s just PRO-BLACK. I ask you to take this journey with him as he shows you what could have happened in any small town in the South in the 1970’s.
Ironically in the South, some of the first ones to cross that cultural bridge were adventurous white girls, being ever so curious about what they heard was on the other side of the tracks “so to speak”. Was it love, pay back, a get back or was it done just to piss off their parents and other white folks? Whyever it was done by the curious white girls “it sure did get a lot of young black boys KILLED” Without asking one question to the young white girls.
This book is dedicated to all the former Kings and Queens from the Continent of Africa where Black people were Royalty. They were kidnapped, Tricked, Stolen away from their home land of Mother Africa against their will. Some were sold, some were stolen, some were tricked and some were trapped like wild animals. However they ended up in America the Beautiful, land of the free for some and the home of the brave for some (some of them paid the highest price of death for being brave). Some hurled themselves off the ship and drowned so they wouldn’t have to live a life of servitude. They died free. Meaning they would rather die free, than live then die a slave. They helped build a nation from which they never received any credit. They were forced to learn another language and pray to the same GOD of the slave master who imprisoned them while waiting for deliverance.
Is an interracial love affair an isolated moment of lust or an important agent of change? When young black and white lovers find each other is it a simple matter of nature taking its course or does it beg some deep important questions about the artificial social construct we call race? Are these lovers simply satisfying a taste for forbidden fruit or do they take a bite out of racism, one intimate touch at a time? The young lovers in this book jump in not head first but heart first with passions blazing, their fire turned up even more by the fact that their acts are barely legal under the law and rarely accepted by society. Are they trying to prove something about human progress or just satisfying physical curiosity? They provide the hands-on research that the reader gets to enjoy and interpret for its anti-racism implications.
Emmit Louis Till, age 14 Abducted and kill for offending a white woman that later recanted her story. (Googled information)
Pearl returned to Madison with her baby just six weeks old. She found out the same day Mrs. Black had a baby girl named Stella three weeks after she did. She came with a two-fold purpose, to hold her head up high and to make a fine life for her son, Jermaine. It didn’t take long before Bill helped set things in motion. First he saw to it Pearl had a car to get around. With his connections Pearl only had to pay $80 a month for the one-year old vehicle. Then he arranged for Pearl to get a job at the local poultry factory where ninety percent of the town’s black population worked.
Eleven Summers. Everything in the South seems to come to life in the spring, by the time summer comes around everybody is ready for whatever happens. The flowers and fruits, the girls and boys, birds and bees, women and men all seem to be ripe for the picking come summer time. Whether it’s countless accounts of siblings doing their usual Showtime-at -the-Apollo-level picking at one another, picking greens, beans, and things at the kitchen table with our matriarch while she passively picks our brains, recounting through the years how the Projects was supposed to pick a predetermined path for the poor, these are the tales of a young man knowing how to pick his battles in order to win at life.
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My Mentor. Mr. West and I say that out of sheer respect.. Dennis man now that I know your story my brother I am outdone. Do you my whole life I thought you lived were the son of the I will say late Pastor West and 1st Lady who lived right there above the church a bit. My brother your book is certified in my opinion as to how you handled & maintained yourself like you said from an early age. I am flabbergasted. You did a rags to riches but without the rags if you understand what I’m saying. If I had known that then I think I would have followed your lead even more I just thought coming from where I came from no one would understand but you did at least try I can remember a many a day at vacation Bible school the B-i-b-l-e yes that’s the book do me. Lol. I had a shy complex largely in part of the family living situation and never having what I really. It was brutal lol. But God. I need not say anymore. I just want you to know I always looked up to you. And even more so now knowing your story. Congratulations on your retirement and God’s blessings grace and mercies to your living a good and well life my brother. Stay up
Stanley Rogers, I grew up in Thomson
This book is one of the most entertaining things I've ever read. Maybe it's because I was there for a lot of it and also because it remind me of some of the things in my own life. I think this is a must read for anyone that grew up in Thomson GA during the time that we did. Good job Dennis. You knocked it out of the park. I give it five stars
Michael Davis, friends since 1973
“Eleven Summers” is a tantalizing, sometimes comedically written, yet always inspiring account of one of the most amazing men I've ever known, and his life on 808 “C” Street. As you embark upon each summer, you will find yourself emersed in a close-knit family, a mother who held a family together by
“any means” necessary, an old school neighborhood, sibling rivalry, sports competitions, sexual relationships, psychological immaturity, and adolescent tug of war, that at times brings you to tears
while laughing simultaneously. Eleven Summers provides a succinct bird’s eye view of living in an era of US history that created an African American diaspora known as the “village”. There are so many memorable quotes throughout the book, but one of my favorites took place in the eleventh summer,
and I paraphrase; “Over those eleven summers I became a father, black belt in Karate and a Deacon; “During those eleven summers I became a man, a businessman, a manger, and business owner. After
reading you’ll be eager to learn what the next summers looked like, for the little boy that grew up to become an incredible author and so much more, I sure am. Graciously submitted by,
Jadene King, MS HRM
Eleven Summers is a thrill ride into the life and times of a loving family growing up in the rural South in the 1970s .Dennis give intimate detail of the happenings in every story that he tells. Eleven Summers is so real and entertaining that I couldn't put it down. I read it two times back to back. I highly recommend it as a must-read.
Brother-n-Law and friend since 1975
Glenn D. Gordon
I grew up in Thomson and I would see Dennis all the time. He was a very good-looking, sharp dresser and had a hot car. He is very intelligent and always moving. I watched as girls held their breath when they saw him. It made me very proud to know he was my cousin. Eleven Summers is so relatable and entertaining that I cant wait to read it again. cousin and friend since 1969.
I was so fortunate to meet Dennis in late 1979 he was dating my cousin Debbie, when I met him back in the day “his ambition, charisma, drive and his happiness was enough to drive you crazy”. He was always going having somewhere to be and something to do. After reading Eleven Summers I understood him a little better. I remember being with sometime and going places with him “the entire room would stop” I can tell you 100% of the stories in the book are true. I later was introduced to his Mom, sisters and brother they would sit around and talk about all of the stories in the book. This is the most insightful, raw, first hand account and so entertaining book I’ve ever read. I give it two thumps up and 5 stars. Get you a copy curl up and prepare to be taken on a wild ride.
Friends since 1979
I grew up in Hancock County Sparta Ga. I heard about Dennis West from my cousin.a sharp-dressing karateman that no one could beat. On top of that he was a manager at McDonald's a true Playboy, They would drive to Thomson to take lessons from him. Not just my cousin, he had his friend and family members join as well. Once they signed up 20 people he would open a school in Sparta. He kept his word he opened a school on Spring Street. The ad hit the paper and people were acting like the President was coming to town. My cousins would go down to the studio and help Dennis paint and set everything up. On opening day the place was full, the newspapers, the radio report and the girls were going crazy over just getting a glimpse at him. The place was full. I read the book and I believe every word. I highly recommend this book I've read it 3 times I can't put it down
“Eleven Summers” is a glimpse into the supreme ghetto life in the late 70's Dennis makes life in the projects sound so much fun. He takes you on a visual journey for a decade. His early start as an entrepreneur, employee and fashion icon and trendsetter. As I said in the foreword i serve as Business 101. I really enjoyed reading the book. grab you a copy.
Gregory M. Dixon
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Check out this great song written by my Nephew Nathan Culpepper "My City" about Thomson, Ga T-Town ....I LOVE MY CITY...Especially 808 "C" Street...in the Old Projects
One of my most enduring stories is getting into the music business. I started a production Company West Enterprises dba DJ Productions my friend Derek Harris came up with that name and he made me business cards and a tag to go on my car. (I did Concerts, Parties, Karate Events and such) this was such a fun time in my life. One of the best things was “well” not the best, but one of the best thing about meeting Debbie is that she attended high school with a guy named Marcus Parks. He was the drummer and leader of one of the youngest and hottest bands in the Augusta area Sequence Eight.
Marcus he somehow found out that I live in Thomson Ga. (Debbie told him) That was the home of Post 576 “WOW” The Post hosted some of the hottest soul acts of the time. Debbie’s cousin Judy Johnson dated Marcus the drummer and leader at the time. I don’t know how it happened or came up in conversation, but Debbie told me about the band and her cousin at the same time and that Marcus wanted to meet me.
I will never forget that first rehearsal the first song they kicked off was (Overnight Sensation by Jerry Knight). This is when I met all of the guys in the band. Marcus Parks Drums and Leader, Vernon Cheely Keys, Vocals and Musical Director, Chris Bass and Vocals, Dwayne Rhythm Guitar, Derek Jones Lead Guitar and Vocals, Tony Williams Keys and Lead Vocals, Jackie Crenshaw Lead Vocals, Torres Knight Percussion and Background Vocals. Barry Nannie Light and Sound, Malcolm Parks Light and Sound. When I tell you that these guys were fantastic.
I let Willie Lee fight a match and he won. I let Randy fight a match and he won too. Then it came time for the lesson to be taught.
You might be good at kicking in the air or beating someone that is not as fast as you are. I talked a little bit about protocol and how to conduct yourself as a serious karateka. They knew immediately I was talking about them. I called Randy up to fight first. I could see in Dennis and Dwayne’s eyes they didn’t know who would win, because Randy was a great air fighter. I completely destroyed him in no time flat. He didn’t score a point, all of his kicks and punches hit the air and didn’t even come close to scoring. I really embarrassed him to the point that he joined the club and became one of my best students. Then it was Willie Lee’s turn to fight me. He started by throwing a few kicks pretty fast but he never scored on me. I gave him the lesson of his life when I punched and kicked him all over his body at my will. He was embarrassed and humbled that day to the point that he joined up as well. I never had any more trouble out of those two. They gave me the utmost respect from then on.
The Commodores came to the Civic Center back in 1976. In the Summer of 1976 they released the mega song, “Just to be close to you,” and lead singer, Lionel Richie, had the line in it talking about he thought material things had so much value when they had no value at all. The line that stuck with me for 50 years was “NO VALUE.” We would say that every time there was an opportunity to correct something or someone. Thank The Commodores for that line…actually a guy named Pee Willie a Baseball stat man and Project Baseball superstar use to say it all the time really country like and drag it out….N O V A L U E !!. Did I mention that music was becoming a very big part of my life? I collected albums I would read the liner notes (I knew the writers, players, where it was recorded, everything about the artist and the project. I became a real musicologist.) I remember playing the Commodores’ “Sweet Love.” There was a guy there named Grady. He was the best. Every time he would hear the high part on, “Sweet Love,” Grady would cry and say, “Phyllis, oh Phyllis.” I admired this guy for how he cared about the love of his life. He found out a guy named Henry was trying to “eat his cake” if the truth be known she wasn’t loyal to him at all. One day he got up the courage to confront Henry. He tore his shirt off and said, “Henry Mays, come in the road.” We had so much fun with the crew at McDonald’s Lindsey, Grady, Allen, Ken and Chris, the “A Team,” the best of the best, when it came to getting the job done.
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