The Fifth Generation
by Nicolas Stockton
From the Editor: Not many of today's blind children will grow up with strong recollections of Dr. Jernigan. Nicolas Stockton is one of the lucky ones. His mother is active in the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, and Nicolas, who is now about ten, has been attending NFB conventions for more than half his life. This is what he wrote:
Dr. Jernigan was one of the most important people in my life. I first met him when I was four at the NFB Convention in Dallas, Texas. Mom told me that there was a man who had known my great-grandfather, Dr. Sam Lawton, who was blind; and she took me to see Dr. Jernigan after one of the sessions. Dr. Jernigan told me about my great-grandfather. He called him a very great man, and he called him a friend. Dr. Jernigan took out his own pocket knife and gave it to me. He told me that it was to remember him by. All these years I've kept his pocket knife in my NFB music box. Every time I take it out, "Glory, Glory, Federation" plays, and I remember Dr. Jernigan.
I've learned a lot about my great-grandfather since then. He helped start the NFB in South Carolina, and he was a preacher and a teacher and a good man. When I think about Dr. Jernigan, it makes me remember what people have told me about my great-grandfather. Dr. Jernigan was not my great-grandfather, but I think he was very much like him. My great-grandfather died before I was born, but Dr. Jernigan did what a great-grandfather does: he gave me a sense of my family's place in NFB history. He gave me a heritage. He also helped me to get a Brailler so I could learn to write. I wrote to him when he was sick with my Brailler. I miss him very, very much, but I still have his knife, and I will always remember him almost like he was my great-grandfather.