A bona fide vagabond, I was born in 1945 in Fort Lauderdale. My parents were farm workers, and we worked in the migrant stream, traveling from Fort Lauderdale to Riverhead, New York each year until I was 16. I left the stream to live with my grandparents in Crescent City, Florida, where I graduated from high school with a football scholarship to historically black Wiley College in Marshall, Texas.

While at Wiley, I worked as a student organizer for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and I wrote for several civil rights publications, thus beginning my career as a journalist. I remained at Wiley for two years before joining the Marine Corps in 1966.  After discharge from the Corps in 1969, I returned to school, this time attending Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach. I majored in English and won a fellowship and stipend to attend the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of English Language and Literature. I earned a Master’s Degree and was accepted to the doctoral program.

Because I was dead broke, I left the doctoral program after a year to take a full-time teaching position at Kennedy-King College, one of Chicago’s community colleges. While at Kennedy-King, I wrote for the Chicago Defender. After leaving Kennedy-King, I accepted a post at Northern Illinois University as an English instructor and the reading/writing specialist for the learning laboratory.

After leaving NIU, I went to the University of Illinois-Chicago as an English professor. From then until I came to Santa Fe Community College in 1986, I held several other professorships in Florida and elsewhere and wrote for several newspapers. While at Santa Fe, I attended the University of Florida’s Graduate School of Journalism and wrote a column for the Gainesville Sun and the New York Times syndicate.

In 1991, I left Santa Fe to become an editorial writer and columnist for the St. Petersburg Times, where I stayed until 2004. I left the Times for Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where I reestablished the journalism major. While at Stillman, I wrote a weekly column for the Tuscaloosa News.

The St. Petersburg Times offered me a handsome pay raise to return to the editorial department, which I did in 2006. I remained at the Times until 2009, when I accepted a salary buyout and agreed to continue to write my column as a contractor without benefits.