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Rodger (L) and Katie Rodger Katie

Rodger (L) and Katie
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Participants in The Conversation: Being Black in California, a collaboration between StoryCorps Griot and I've Known Rivers: The MoAD Stories Project.
Surprised by Life
by Rodger and Katie
September 2008

Rodger Allen, a native Californian, discusses growing up in both Marysville County, CA and San Francisco's Fillmore District in the early fifties. "When we lived in the country, we rented a farmhouse that had ten acres. We had animals and my brothers and I worked in orchards and drove tractors," he said. "We felt a lot of freedom there, being in the city we would have been restricted so we really enjoyed it." Rodger talks about his father, who was the first African American to graduate from UC Davis, his mother who, among other things, was a governess for a wealthy family and his rich family history. "My mother's side of the family, there were four brothers who were the off-spring of a white slave-owner and an African mother." Of the four, three came to California and since they were trained in agriculture, they were able to start businesses. He joined the military during the Vietnam Era and served in Germany where he learned life lessons. "I've been pleasantly surprised by life." He says. ""I have been extraordinarily blessed to do more things than many African American men had the opportunity to do.""
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