WORLD’s Nov. 2 issue includes edited excerpts of an interview with E.W. Jackson, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Virginia. Here are a few comments he made about growing up.
You didn’t have an easy childhood … I was born into a dysfunctional family. My parents’ relationship had been off and on, and around the time I was born it came to a final conclusion. I was shifted around the first two years from one foster home to another. At 2 I landed in the home of an illiterate, poor, very loving couple. They loved me dearly, but I was resentful that my parents weren’t there. As I got older, they couldn’t control me.
What happened then? When I was 9½ my father came back into my life. He always wanted me but felt he couldn’t take care of a young child and work full time as well. Once I got old enough he thought I could handle two hours after school until he got home, and it was worth trying. He also felt that if he didn’t do something at that point, I was going to be lost to the streets forever.
He got you all the way to high school graduation … My dad was not a wealthy man, but he loved me and wanted me to have the best that he could provide. He promised me that if I got straight A’s, he would give me a car. When I did he turned over to me a black 1960 Catalina Pontiac. That made me a big man on campus even though I lived in what would be described as the ghetto, the poorest part of Chester [Pa.].
Chester is a tough town … Chester was tough: big gambling town, big industrial town, a lot of shipyard workers. You know what it’s like in a working class community: You fight and scrap your way through. So that’s certainly the way I grew up.
Did scrapping through prepare you for the Marines? In a sense it did, but I give the credit more to my dad because he instilled in me a sense that you don’t quit, you don’t give up, you don’t use excuses, you don’t blame other people. You meet the challenges of life and you overcome them and you don’t quit until you do. My father used to always say to me, “I want you to reach for the stars. If you don’t land on the stars, maybe you will land on the moon, but I can guarantee this, if you don’t reach you’ll never get anywhere. And don’t ever come back to me with excuses.”
So Marines, then the University of Massachusetts … I went in the Marine Corps a boy and came out a man. When I went in I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do something with my life, but I had no idea what. By the time I came out I knew I wanted to be a lawyer.