Hargrave releases book on faith, family

“Honor your father and mother, so that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth” is taken from Ephesians 6:2-3 and a verse of Scripture that Brenda R. Hargrave of Phoenix has lived by and now she has written a personal chronicle of her faith and her family.

Born in Wheeling, the Ohio Valley Hospital to be exact, she is well known to residents of Smithfield, where she lived with her parents, Dr. Charles Hargrave, a dentist who had practiced in Pittsburgh, and Anthia, a homemaker for five children, until graduation from Smithfield High School in 1962.

There are only two surviving siblings now: Harry, or Henry to those in Smithfield who knew him in the Class of 1954 and who resides in Shaker Heights; and a sister residing near Akron.

Hargrave attended her 50th school reunion last year, and it was there that she commended her 1962 classmates for getting up and leaving an eating establishment that was open late while on their senior trip to Washington, D.C. This was during the time of segregation, when she and other black students were asked to leave the establishment.

“The four blacks in the group were not certain what to do, but our classmates solved it for us.” she said. “If they can’t be served then we don’t want to be either, was the consensus of the other students. I never felt so proud of my fellow classmates as when we all got up and walked out,” she said.

After graduation from Smithfield, she went to Washington, D.C., to work at the state department’s International Development, the foreign aid agency, during the Kennedy administration.

She also worked in other federal agencies: the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington and Cleveland; the Veterans Administration in Cleveland, San Diego, Brentwood and Long Beach, Calif.; the Air Force JAG Corps in Los Angeles; the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles; and the GSA in Lawndale, Calif., in the next 18 years.

Hargrave owned her own medical transcription service, Agape Business Services in Carson, Calif., for seven years, from 1986-93. She also worked in the Bellarmine University, Louisville, Ky., president’s office from 2004-06, as well as other areas of administration, academia, health care and the legal profession.

She received an associate of arts degree from Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and a bachelor of vocational education degree from California State University-San Bernardino, Calif.

During the last 20 years, she taught at Chaffey Community College in Rancho Cucamonga; Southwestern Community College in Chula Vista, Calif., as well as other vocational education institutions.

Hargrave currently teaches in Maricopa Community Colleges in Phoenix and frequently works as a freelance writer.

She has two sons, Kevin of Los Angeles, and Keith and two granddaughters of Louisville..

While in Smithfield, the St. Paul’s AME Church was the family’s place of worship.

“My book, ‘Commandment with a Promise: Chronicle of a Black American Family’ is based on the fifth of the 10 Commandments, referring to honoring our parents,” she said.

“The book is a chronology of my family’s history in the Ohio Valley where my paternal grandmother settled after being freed from slavery in Virginia at the age of 10 years old. She traveled north in the Underground Railroad with 40 other slaves and they settled in Mount Pleasant,” Hargrave said.

“My paternal grandfather was a Union soldier in the Civil War and played the fife in the Fife and Drum Corps,” she related.

The book relates to her growing up in Smithfield and her experience as a caregiver for her mother, who lived to be 90 years old.

In her personal chronicle of faith and family, the author, with her first experience at writing, discovers that the Fifth Commandment is not just an edict to bear in mind but a true command that is accompanied by a promise to stand by the family and take care of the parents until the very end.

In telling the story of her own family, their history and heritage, along with her own discovery of faith, Hargrave shows how the love of Christ can pervade every relationship and make it more meaningful.

She tells how the love of a tight-knit family gave her family the strength to overcome struggles, from the cultural to the spiritual to the personal and to the public.

“Commandment with a Promise: Chronicle of a Black American Family” is available for order on the publisher’s website at www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php. The official release date is March 26. After that date, it will be available on Amazon and in bookstores. The cost is $9.99.