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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

My Family History Shaped and Defines My Core Values

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on November 14, 2023

IMAGE: Watkins-Varnado family gathering in Memphis, Tennessee, circa 1957.

I have stated on many occasions that my core values were passed down to me from: (a) my paternal grandparents, Adam and Sallie Watkins; (b) my maternal grandparents, Reverend Willie Varnado and his wife Etta: (c) my parents, Levi and Lillian Watkins; and (d) my siblings, Marie, Pearl, Levi, Jr., Doristine, and James.  


For decades, the Watkins family associated with known criminals. These courageous criminals -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, Mrs. Rosa Parks, Dr. Maya Angelou, Joseph L. Cole – were close family friends and frequent overnight guests in our home.  Dr. King was also my pastor, Sunday School teacher, and Baptist Training Union instructor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery during the early 1950s.

IMAGE: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (left), with Rosa Parks (right).

I come from a family of Bridge Builders.  This tradition of service to humanity started with the marriage of Olivia and William Carmichael in Crawford Station, Mississippi on March 25, 1865 and has been passed down every generation in my family for six generations.


As a family, we have operated community news media platforms since 1935. We have organized and supported movements for equal educational opportunities since 1940, voting rights since the 1950s, fair employment practices since the 1960s, and equal access to medical care since the 1970s.


I live by my family’s core values every day and I have passed them down to my five children. They have passed them down to their children.  

Hopefully, these core values will be successfully passed down to the seventh generation in the Watkins family, which began in June 2023 with the birth of my great granddaughter, Azayah Jordan Deese.

My close friendships with people like Doyal Reed, Ralph Malone, David Minkin, John F. Carter, Nichelle Gainey, Alvin and Calvin Waters, David "The Meck" Meckley, and Chandra Dake are based upon these values.

My core values are simple and embody the best attributes of my blended African-American, Native-American, and white heritage:


1. I believe in God.

2. I believe that all men and women are created equal.

3. I believe that we should lead our lives in a way that sets a good example for others to follow.

4. I believe that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their ethnicity, age, sex, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, or socio-economic station in life.

5. I believe that we should honor our fathers and mothers, as well as the many sacrifices they have made for the benefit of our families and communities.

6. I believe that a great education is the most important building block for success in life because superior knowledge is the strongest form of power on the planet.

7. I believe in public service as a civic duty, and it should be given without any expectation of a financial reward or public recognition.

8. I believe in setting personal goals and working hard toward achieving them.

9. I believe that all citizens are entitled to: (a) equal rights under the law, (b) an equal opportunity to compete on a level playing field for a successful future, and (c) equal government services that are rendered free of corruption.

10. I believe in truth, honesty, and ethics in government and in life.

11. I believe that government service should be a sacrifice, not a pathway to personal enrichment.

12. I believe in the fair administration of justice.

13. I believe in freedom of speech, without fear of retaliation or reprisals.

14. I believe in standing up for deserving individuals who are not able to stand up to government or private sector tyrants.

15. I believe in participatory democracy, as opposed to the oligarchies that are spreading across America.

16. I believe in superior American military might and using it to keep America safe from foreign enemies.

17. I believe that constructive criticism is the sincerest form of loyalty.

18. I believe in apologizing when I make an error in judgment or a mistake that hurts innocent people.

19. I believe in learning something positive from my mistakes in life.

20. I believe in standing up for what is right, even if I must stand alone.

I NEVER abandon these core values for anybody or for any reason! I do not "go along to get along" with any group that does not honor my value system.


Because I act on my beliefs and abide by these core family values, I am often viewed as a “troublemaker” and “rabble rouser” by the established political, business, educational, and judicial powers players in Alabama and Washington.  They have tried every technique known to man to silence my voice about the things that matter the most in life. They have failed in this effort.

My closest friends joking refer to my activism as “poking the bear.” Those who oppose these core values accuse me of "fu-king with them."


It is what it has been for six generations in one American family!  We call it service to our community, our state, and our nation. This value system has never hurt anyone who seeks to do the right thing for the right reasons at the right time.

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Donald V. Watkins
Donald V. Watkins
Nov 15, 2023

I do not want anybody confused about who I am and what I stand for. My 900+ published articles define me in my own words. I never sugarcoat the reality of public corruption or human suffering. I am "unbossed" and "unbought," and I like it that way. We cannot stand up for the "least of these my brethren" if we have skeletons in our closet or we have taken money from the forces that oppose our growth and inclusion in the American dream. Finally, I cannot stand bigotry of any kind. Hatred has no place in my world.

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