My Own Black History Continued…

I’m not sure who said it, but “Your Dream Doesn’t Have an Expiration Date” captures the essence of my father’s approach.  He would say, “Go all the way,” and he did. 

Milton McGinty, a proud man whom I affectionately called “Dad,”  discovered his ability and interest in writing when he worked as a Desk Sergeant in the army in WWII.  He started to type and never stopped.  He dreamed of becoming a writer, but it was the 1940s and you can imagine the challenge he experienced in finding an outlet for his interest and talent.  He did eventually find a job as a staff writer for the CIA where he worked for 16 years.  After not being able to advance, he quit and found his way to business.  While he stayed in business, he never let go of his dream. Business was a means to an end. He could do it and take care of his family – a wife and three children.  His passion still lied in his desire  to write plays and see them staged.

My father had so much to say.  Just recently, my brother, award-winning journalist Derek McGinty (proud of him, too), took one of Dad’s more explicit writings about the pain of racial inequity and added his take on it. In this essay, you learn of my fathers deep rooted and often masked pain caused by the sometimes blatant and often crippling attacks of systemic racism. He takes you inside his experience and how he shouldered disappointment in himself when he believed he succumbed to a certain stereotype as a young man. The balance of the essay reveals how he grew into a man that would have the audacity to stare down such stereotypes of black people in this era and dare to defy them for the remainder of his days.

When he retired in 1983, he bought the Takoma Theater, an old movie house in Washington, D.C. He renovated it into a 500-seat live stage theater and began to produce and direct his own plays, which featured black, successful leading characters.  Having a theater uptown, not in the Theater District and not near supporting infrastructure like restaurants and bars, made this difficult. Yet, he kept going.  When he accepted that he would not get a favorable, or in his eyes, fair review from the Washington Post, he pivoted.  He mailed a packet of plays to 300 Theaters/Repertory Companies across the nation hoping someone would be interested.  No luck. Still, he kept going. My father’s mission was to do what he loved and create a space in Washington for folks to enjoy black theater. He was once quoted as saying “I get a certain satisfaction out of playing a role in making it possible for other people to do things they normally would not be able to do.”  We need not consult a bookkeeper or societal standards to know that, by this measure, he was a tremendous success. 

He kept writing until Alzheimers made it so he no longer remembered how to use the keyboard.  

I love his story because he kept his dream alive his entire life. He demonstrated that feeling fulfilled and satisfied was not tied to commercial success, instead it was tied to going all the way.  The best part is that his story did not end there.  We published his book in March of 2013, 6 months before he died.   I have shared it before and proudly share it again as we continue to celebrate Black History Month. 

My father’s pain did not deter him, it inspired him to keep trying and he proved that it is true that dreams don’t have expiration dates. So, the rest of us must keep trying and go all the way. Look back at the dreams you set down long ago and pick them up in the retirement phase of your life.  Enjoy them for what they offer you and redefine them so their value and enjoyment are not tied to commercial measures.  Embrace the journey.  As quiet as it is kept, that really is the fun part.  

Shortly after we published I Wanted You To Know, my father’s collection of writings, he told me he was fully satisfied with his life and he did everything he wanted to do.  

Dr. Lisa

Our theme song is one of dad’s favorites of all time “My Way” by Frank Sinatra.


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