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Young Jacob

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During the Great Depression, in the south, in the rural area of Fayetteville, North Carolina, Jacob Pete Manor was born into a family of sharecroppers.

The Manor family consisted of the head of the household, bread-winner and provider, the father, Gary Manor; the mother, Betsey and their four children. There was a two-year difference between each child. The eldest daughter, firstborn child was Elsie, then came Big Brother (Gary, Jr.); next was Dabney, the youngest girl, and last but not least the youngest boy, Jacob Pete.

Betsey’s fourth and final pregnancy was met with severe complications and she was informed, by her doctor, that she could not bear any more children. Bets over-bonded with Jacob at birth as his conception marked the conclusion of any life that would ever again emerge from her womb.

Jacob was extremely spoiled – not only by Bets – but everyone who came in contact with him. He was indeed a “mama’s boy.” A “mama’s boy,” by definition is a boy or man showing excessive attachment or dependence on and to his mother.

Bets’ wanted the best for Jacob, and concluded that Jacob needed to be influenced by a male – close to his own age – but it needed to be someone who genuinely cared for him.

Bets did not have access or knowledge of any form of a "Rite of Passage." What she knew was that a woman could not teach a boy how to become a man and Jacob needed training.

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” ~ Proverbs 22:6

So now the obvious question was posed: “Who was going to train up Jacob?” The most obvious and immediate response to this question would be G, his father, but…

Betsey decided to step aside and assigned the oldest son, Gary, Jr. (Big Brother) the responsibility of guiding Jacob. Big Brother only had four years prior life experience than his younger brother, but Bets figured he was a competent candidate to lead and train up Jacob. Brother was happy to take his little brother under his wing at a very early age.

As parents, she and G still ruled the household. Big Brother steered Jacob into and away from situations and places that were impossible for Bets or G to help Jacob experience. They realized that Jacob needed to separate from his parents; especially break away from the mother-son overbonding (“mama’s boy” tendencies) and Big Brother, Gary, Jr. was their trusted resource.

This was the journey – Rite of Passage – of the youngest Manor child, Jacob. It was through his eyes that the unspoken journey of an African-American male child was explored, observed and discovered. Jacob’s curiosity about life – the successes and the failures, the ups and the downs, and life’s ultimate lessons – though some costly – helped him understand and uncover the true meaning of “manhood.”


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