My American Journey from chopping cotton in the Mississippi Delta to sleeping in the White House.
23 Miles & Running
We moved from plantation to plantation, depending on where dad found work. When I was around 13 years old, he shook me awake early one morning before the sun rose. I climbed on to the back of an old beat-up truck with men twice my age. After driving several miles, the old truck stopped. We all climbed off and stood in the middle of a long dirt road. As the sun began to peek over the horizon, we stared silently at the seemingly never-ending rows and rows of freshly grown cotton—still moist with the morning dew.
Chopping cotton was grueling, back-breaking work. I did it throughout my teenage years to help my parents take care of me. Even at such a young age, I knew it was difficult for my parents—I wanted to carry my own weight. There were times when those cotton fields nearly broke me down. However, over time, I realized how that experience actually built me up! It prepared me for the incredible journey ahead . . .