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BOBBY ARDOIN Editor/Consulting Writer

Dr. Walter Davis Sr. hopes that those who read his autobiographical “The Journey Of A Sharecropper’s Kid,” will embrace an underlying inspirational message appearing frequently inside the chapters of his recently-published book.

While Davis lays bare the difficulties and economic disadvantages that he and his family withstood as they worked as post-Depression laborers on a large farm south of Port Barre, Davis says he doesn’t intend for his book to totally indict those who exercised a tight reign over the workers navigating the sharecropper economy.

“I wrote this as a way to inspire people and urge them to come together,” says Davis, now an 87-year-old minister and general contractor who heads a congregation at his church north of Opelousas.

Davis, who emphasized his experience as a late-life Christian, read excerpts and provided personal anecdotesThursday night during an oral presentation and book signing event at the Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center.

Many of Davis’ family members attended the event, which curator Patrice Melnick said demonstrated a continued attempt by the museum to provide individuals with a forum that shares stories and firsthand insights about their life experiences.

As a family whose lives provided a voluntary, agricultural labor force for the landowner, Davis said after the annual harvests were sold, the workers residing on the property routinely received “what was left.”

Davis pointed out that normally families received about half of what was produced in the fields around the Poplar Grove hamlet, which currently remains predominantly agricultural.

“We would take what was barren and make the other man rich,” Davis said.

Potatoes, corn and other crops were handpicked amid pecan trees and considered a family responsibility, as Davis recalled his childhood.

“My mother had to work. We were at the bottom; we didn’t have anything,” Davis said.

Margaret Doucet, one of Davis’ nine children, said her father told her once that if you looked up from their rural cabin, you could see parts of the sky, while looking down, you noticed the farm animals moving underneath.

By the time he was 10, Davis said he had matured quickly enough for property owners to give him a position of responsibility that enabled him to preside over bi-racial labor in the fields..

Davis said he would like those who read the book to discover that you learn more by listening to other people. When you do that, Davis noted, you realize that something personally valuable is obtained.

Regrettably Davis said he wishes he had taken more time to spend with his father, who Davis admitted often bragged about the accomplishments of his son.

“I want to bring more people together and hopefully by sharing my life and my stories, it will help elevate the lives of others,” Davis said.