One of my family’s favorite stories is about the time my grandfather, my Poppop, got a black eye.
In 1969, he went to a national principals’ conference in upstate New York. While he was there, he heard a principal from Alabama complaining about having to integrate his school.
Poppop wouldn’t stand for that. He went over and — politely, I’m sure — told the other guy that America stands for equal opportunity, and that all people deserve a quality public education.
The other guy didn’t like that. He slugged Poppop in the face.
Someone in my family told that story at just about every holiday, usually while Poppop blushed on the side of the room. Hearing it as a kid taught me to stick up for other people — no matter the consequences.