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The Herman Cain of Atlanta's West Side

Cain was front-and-center in last night's GOP presidential debate. But long before the spotlight, the Godfather's Pizza CEO was just another kid from Atlanta's west side.

If the winds among the streets of Atlanta's west side could speak, they would softly whisper the name of Herman Cain, one of three Republican frontrunners in Tuesday's CNN presidential debate.

Cain's father, Luther, worked as a janitor, a barber, and a chauffeur for Robert Woodruff, the president for Coca-Cola. His mother, Lenora, was a domestic worker. One of Luther Cain's high points in life was saving enough money from his three jobs to purchase a modest brick home on Albert Street off Oldknow in the Collier Heights neighborhood.

“I didn’t come from a well-to-do family economically, but we were well-to-do spiritually and emotionally," Cain said in his autobiography, "This is Herman Cain, My Journey to the White House," which was just released on Oct. 4.

Said Cain: “I grew up poor, but I didn’t know it.”

Cain grew up in segregated Atlanta and attended segregated schools, English Avenue Elementary, in the Vine City-English Avenue area, andthe former Archer High School (now part of ) in an industrial, blue collar community on Perry Boulevard. At the age of 10, he joined Antioch Baptist Church, the southwest Atlanta church lead by the influential Rev. Cameron Alexander.

“I still remember riding the buses, and they had the sign in the front, ‘Whites seat from front. Colored seat from rear,’ ” Cain said in his book. “It didn’t say, ‘White folks sit in the front, black folks sit in the back.’ That would have made too much sense.”

Cain graduated salutatorian from Archer in 1963 and was chose as both "Best All Around" and "Most Likely to Succeed" by his peers. Cain went on to graduate from Morehouse College in 1967 and a year later married Atlanta resident Gloria Etchison after she graduated from . The Cains moved north shortly after Cain was accepted to Purdue University, where he received his Master's Degree in computer science.

In last night's debate, Cain stood firm on his controversial defense of Wall Street.

Cain recently criticized the Occupy Wall Street protesters, saying, "Don't blame Wall Street. Don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself."

At Tuesday night's CNN debate, according to a report on HuffingtonPost.com Politics, Cain stood by his comments—to loud cheers from the audience.

"I still stand by my statement," he said.

"They might be frustrated with Wall Street and the bankers, but they're directing their anger at the wrong place," he added. "Wall Street didn't put in failed economic policies. Wall Street didn't spend a trillion dollars that didn't do any good. Wall Street isn't going around the country trying to sell another $450 billion. They ought to be over in front of the White House taking out their frustration."

Yolande M. Minor October 19, 2011 at 02:37 PM
Iris and Mr. Harvey, I think it is going to happen, as well. I can't wait to see the end of this race !!!
Yolande M. Minor October 19, 2011 at 03:02 PM
Thank you, Mr. Gulley and Mr. Harvey for your comments. Mrs. Jackson, I agree with you 100%. A candidate's character and their ability to recommend and deliver appropriate policies for the people that they serve should be involved in our decision making for 2012. A well informed choice is the best choice of them all.
Atlanta Public Schools October 19, 2011 at 04:22 PM
FANTASTIC story. More like these please!!!! Great research and reporting Yolande.
Alex Walker October 19, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Nice article, but I, for one, would like to know more about Mr. Cain's political education. Many don't know this, but Condoleezza Rice grew up in Birmingham where her father organized Blacks to defend their neighborhood from the KKK with shotguns. Clarence Thomas led a black student strike at Holy Cross. I attended both Howard and Hampton in the 1960s and I'll bet real money that any brother with a trendy afro studying at Morehouse in those days wasn't any Goldwater Republican! There is always a first time, but I have never met anybody like that of my generation. In those days on campus you were considered a "moderate" if you insisted on non-violence. Please don't misunderstand me. I am not looking to "get dirt" on Mr. Cain. On the contrary, I think evidence of his humanity -- including appropriate outrage over segregation and racism -- would help move America beyond 40-year-old clichés about "Liberals" and "Conservatives."
Romi Chadwick October 19, 2011 at 05:28 PM
I love Herman Cain! My mother pointed him out to me MONTHS before anybody else heard about him! While I will not commit to any candidate at this point (because no candidate or even any elected official should ever take any votes for granted!), Mr. Cain, IMHO, ROCKS!
Yolande M. Minor October 19, 2011 at 06:40 PM
Thank you Atlanta Public Schools. It is a true honor. As I stated earlier this morning, Herman Cain's story is Atlanta's story. Atlanta is a powerhouse of dynamic African-American leaders that have been born and raised here. It gives testimony to the outstanding parenting, the magnificent education of Atlanta Public Schools, and the unrelentless perservernce within each of us to achieve our goals. Also, I can not forget to mention the excellent education provided by the powerhouses of the Atlanta University Center: Morehouse, Morris Brown, Clark-Atlanta University, and Spelman. We are Atlanta's Success Stories !!! Dr. Yolande M. Minor, Ed.D. Oglethorpe Elementary Frederick Douglass High School Emory University
Yolande M. Minor October 19, 2011 at 06:46 PM
Thank Mr. Walker and Mr. Chadwick for your comments.
Lyndsey October 19, 2011 at 07:53 PM
I'm from Atlanta, and I'm an HBCU grad (Howard)....for those two reasons alone, I'm pleased (maybe even proud) to see that Herman Cain is in the race to become president. However, I won't be voting for him simply because he went to Morehouse, or because he's from Atlanta. Just as we shouldn't vote for Obama because he's black...we shouldn't vote for Cain because we share home towns. I don't believe he's the best person for the job - because his 9-9-9 plan is unrealistic and inadequate; because of his views on immigration; and because I don't feel he best represents me or the middle class. I sincerely hope everyone takes a strong look at his politcal philosophies before jumping on board as a Cain supporter.
Yolande M. Minor October 19, 2011 at 08:21 PM
Lyndsey, I agree. We must study our candidates carefully right now and make a well-informed decision.
Leslye Joy Allen October 19, 2011 at 08:30 PM
This is one of those times when I am glad to a native Atlantan, a fourth generation native with roots in Atlanta back to Reconstruction. I could not have dreamed up a better scenario. I told a friend of mine--who shall remain nameless--back in early 2008 that if Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination for president, and then the presidency, that the rules would be altered for all of us. Now, let's be honest, the whole issue of "race" still matters but the nuances are certainly different in this new post-Obama setting. Personally, I think Herman Cain is going to win the Republican nomination for the presidency. And as much as I disagree with Mr. Cain on most policy issues, I cannot wait for that once-in-a-lifetime moment when two Black men compete against one another for the highest office in the land. Who would have thought it would come to such a peculiarly delicious moment!
Yolande M. Minor October 19, 2011 at 09:24 PM
Mrs. Allen, I am excited about this moment, as well. The turning point of a prejudice nation. From the old film "The Birth of a Nation" to "The Birth of a New Nation". Truly Historical Events taking place. I can't wait to see what the end will be !!!
Yolande M. Minor October 19, 2011 at 09:27 PM
Mr. Walker, go to Herman Cain's website: www.hermancain.com to learn more about his political education and the policies that he promotes.
Leslye Joy Allen October 19, 2011 at 09:54 PM
I hear you. And for the record, I am not a "Mrs," never have been (LOL). It's Ms. plain and simple. Great writing and reporting Dr. Minor!
Harold Michael Harvey October 19, 2011 at 10:12 PM
Leslye Joy!!!
Yolande M. Minor October 19, 2011 at 10:54 PM
Thank You, Ms. Allen !!!
Glen McDaniel October 20, 2011 at 01:06 AM
Herman Cain is being interviewed by Piers Morgan right now (9:00pm EST). Lyndsey, I agree with you completely. I hope it takes more than a shared skin color and neighborhood to earn our vote.
Yolande M. Minor October 20, 2011 at 11:05 AM
For me, I will take serious consideration of all the facts of "my political gain in this government" for any of the candidates to earn my vote.
Jamie Cox October 20, 2011 at 01:24 PM
Great information. I didn't know the particulars of Herman Cain's southwest Atlanta roots.
Yolande M. Minor October 20, 2011 at 02:20 PM
Thank you, Jamie!
Emory McClinton, Jr. October 20, 2011 at 11:43 PM
So you think Cain is honest. I guess you can want to put up an electricfied fence to kill immigrants, blame the unemployed for being laid off, shamelessly distort economic information to within a hair of outright lying, call people socialists if they want affordable healthcare and do it all for political gain and its OK if he's a black native Atlantan. I hope these are not the principles being taught in all of those schools you seem to be so proud of.
Dianne Patti October 21, 2011 at 02:10 AM
Dear Emory, Mr. Cain is honest indeed. I implore you to read his memoirs "This Is Herman Cain," and it will become self-evident. Sir, he has been laboring so hard and long to bring employment back to this country, that it should be obvious to any who cares to know the truth that his remark to the college students of Occupy Wall Street was exclusively directed toward them. Sir, Obamacare IS socialism and socialism brings death. Did you hear that this year the former Director of National Health Services in Britain DIED waiting for her operation that was repeatedly postponed? But YOU can walk into the Emory U hospital E.R. and receive treatment Today! For better information please go to www.hermancain.com
Yolande M. Minor October 21, 2011 at 07:17 AM
Mr. Emory, Jr. As I stated earlier, it is for every person to study the facts and make a well informed decision for 2012. Each person will lean on their own opinion. However, I should not have to be attacked for my beliefs. My principles are brought forth from my belief systems from my home and the environment I live in, not my education. Our children, including myself, have received an education from some the most excellent schools in the country (APS). Sometimes it takes learning about other cultures before attacking them. There are those of us who very proud of our history and culture and will not be catapulted by your hatred remarks. I have the right to acknowledge Herman Cain's roots and not be judged by you for them. You should study all the facts and make "your" decision for 2012. Dr. Yolande M. Minor, Ed.D. Cascade Patch Correspondent
Harold Michael Harvey October 21, 2011 at 10:56 AM
Dr. Minor, you should be applauded for the find work you have done in shedding light on the life and times of the young Herman Cain. I'm sure the national media will read your report when they began to look deeper into his past for some understanding of the man. I in no sense got the impression that you were pushing the candidacy of Herman Cain for President. I appreciate your scholarship, research and the absence of bias in your reporting and in your comments to responses to this piece. I look forward to other articles in this series. Harold Michael Harvey, J. D. www.paperpuzzle.net
Yolande M. Minor October 21, 2011 at 01:08 PM
Thank you, Attorney Harvey. You are right, I am reporting the news within my community.
Emory McClinton, Jr. October 24, 2011 at 06:07 PM
wow, I guess if right wing extremist says its so then it must be so! Ms Patti try picking up an political science text, a macro economics book or an accounting class before talking real substantive issues. There is no way any one can argue political propaganda as facts and i refuse to legitimize it's lack of creditability by engaging in an exchange. I guess we just have two different ideas on what honesty is. Distorting facts repeatedly, playing to the worst impulses of human nature (racism, greed, outright disdain for the poor) and all for political gain is not an honest man at my church. I guess I am one of those "brainwashed Black people" that Cain insults as a group. I just know something about integrity. Ms Minor, I just want our commuity that I moved into in 1967 to have higher standards that skin color, HBCU alumni status and being fron "the West" . We must critically analyse just who want to make as an example for our children to emulate. and politically it is definitely not that cain guy. He may have other redeemable traits worthy of publicity but politics is not it. His policies would be devastating for all of America. PS I hope you were not susguesting that I needed to learn about "other cultures" that are black or republican. I obviously know about both DON'T BE BLINDED BY YOUR BLACKNESS! Emory Jr
Yolande M. Minor October 24, 2011 at 09:18 PM
Emory Jr. DON'T BE BLINDED BY YOUR BLACKNESS !!! WE ARE ENTITLED TO OUR OWN OPINIONS. YOU VOTE FOR YOUR CANDIDATE. I WILL VOTE FOR MINE. DO NOT TRY TO JUDGE ME FOR REPORTING NEWS. I have a right to account for the news. I am not telling anyone who to vote for. I only stated to study the facts and make your decision from there. What part of this did you misunderstand? This is the last time I will address you in this forum. You can continue to spew your bitter taunts with someone else. Dr. Yolande Minor, Ed.D. Cascade Patch Correspondent
Yolande M. Minor October 25, 2011 at 06:24 AM
I think some have missed the point from the article I wrote on Herman Cain. As a reporter, I have acknowledged his earlier and former education and his neighborhood he grew up in Atlanta. I have not endorsed any candidate. I have reported neighborhood news. Study facts and policies for yourselves. Make a well-informed decision from your knowledge of how the candidate will benefit you. Dr. Yolande Minor, Ed.D. Cascade Patch Correspondent
Emory McClinton, Jr. October 25, 2011 at 07:26 PM
Nothing I have said is hateful, meanspirited or taunting you to display any type of anger. I have nothing to be bitter about. I am not judging you in that you have not endorsed anyone. I have not attacked you. It takes a lot of work to do what you do and have accomplished. I just question a puff peice on a Southwest Atlanta "favorite son" that is not a person black people should hold in any political esteem whatsoever. As a professional writer/ correspondent/ reporter you can't be so sensitive as to read sinister things into how the public responds to your work. I apologize if I pricked a spot somehow
Yolande M. Minor October 25, 2011 at 09:45 PM
:-D
Delores "Dee" Turner November 04, 2011 at 04:01 PM
Cain and I were apparently at English Ave. Ele. School around the same time. I did not personally know him, but I met him several years ago when we held an English Ave. school reunion. Cain was our speaker. At the time we were just proud to know that he was a successful businessman. From what I have heard from him since then, I doubt if I could vote for him. Still, I would love to see him run against President Obama. What an entertaining race that would be!

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