This is the story of a family who defies negative stereotypes and statistics. Meanwhile, this Greenwood family has helped put Mississippi at the top of the nation in one very good category.
Three troubling statistics.
We all know the debilitating effects to children raised in fatherless households. Study after study supports this daunting reality.
In LeFlore County, where Greenwood is the county seat, 74 percent of children live in one-parent households (general translation, “fatherless” households); 55 percent live in poverty; 12.6 percent are unemployed. LeFlore ranks 76th in quality of life among Mississippi’s 81 counties, according to countyhealthrankins.org.
We often look at such numbers and get depressed—even mad.
An encouraging statistic.
Mississippi ranks first in the number of black-owned businesses in the nation—at 27.7 percent. Georgia is a close second with 27.6. This according to a study between 2007 and 2012 by black demographics.com.
Now meet the Wells family
Meet Julian Wells Sr., 51, and his sons, Julian Wells Jr., 29 (left in top photo), and Christian, 26 (right in photo).
Their prospering family business, Walls Tire & Detail in Greenwood, proves what a hardworking father (photo below) who doesn’t pity himself can mean to his sons.
You see, Julian Sr. is a black man who started his own business. He is a black man who raised his sons to be workers.
But he’s even more than that.
In a business involving manual labor, Julian Sr. prospered despite wearing a prosthetic limb. He lost part of one arm in a work-related accident before starting his own business. In so doing, Julian Sr. defied yet a fourth troubling norm—only one in three handicapped Americans today works, according to mighty.com, a go-to website for disabled business owners.
About his father, Julian Jr. told the Greenwood Commonwealth, “If he can do that (run the business) for twenty-one years, I can do it, and I’ve got two (arms).”
At the age of nine, Julian Jr. began working for his father at Walls Tire & Detail, which the elder opened about 21 years ago. In the Commonwealth, Julian Jr. says his inspiration today for operating the business is his father.
Julian Sr. never complained and expected his sons to work hard. It paid off. The age-old adage attributed to Thomas Edison, “There is no substitute for hard work” has proven true for the Walls family.
Since he was a boy, Julian Jr. rose early on summer days to work. He told the Commonwealth, “I hated getting up every morning. … But it paid off. And I honestly saw the reason why, because if you don’t work, you don’t eat.” Over time, his father moved his family from a one-bedroom house “in the hood” to a three-bedroom house.
Julian Sr. now works for a local sand and gravel company, leaving Julian Jr. and Christian operating the tire and detail company.
Meanwhile, Julian Jr. has a daughter and son.
Said Julian Jr. in the Commonwealth, “I pray to God every day that he allows me to get up and at least have the strength to open these doors one more day.” He adds, “This is how I feed our kids, and I love it.”
He told Mississippi Matters, “We try to treat our customers like we treat ourselves. We always give them smiles. We’re just blessed that they shop with us.”