By Aaron Allen, The Seattle Medium
Curtis Wells Sr., one of Washington State’s premiere track and field coaches and youth mentors, firmly believes in the importance of land ownership, and has instilled in his family the notions of hard work, owning land and leaving that legacy.
The descendant of survivors of the 1923 massacre in Rosewood, Florida – a thriving Black community that was terrorized and destroyed by Whites in the area on January 1, 1923 – Wells was exposed to the idea of land ownership and self-sufficiency through hard work from an early age and has made sure that his family has passed down the value from generation to generation.
During the Rosewood massacre, Wells’ grandfather gathered his wife and his 31 children and fled to Georgia by foot to escape the massacre.
After World War II, Wells’ father, James, and his wife, Willie M. Wells, knew that they did not want their six children growing up in that environment and migrated their family to the Pacific Northwest.
“My father spent his younger years down south,” recalls Wells. “And my father actually said he’d never raise his children down South because he wanted to make sure we had an opportunity to have a good life.”
After witnessing livelihoods that were destroyed and taken, the one value that James Wells needed his children to understand was ownership of land and the responsibilities that comes with it.
“My father preached land and home ownership,” says Wells. “It was important to him that his children new the value of homeownership. And he would tell my mother that ‘I want to get my children a home.’”
However, after arriving in Seattle, Wells quickly learned that discrimination can be everywhere and that finding a piece of property that he can call his own would not be easy.
“My mother and father moved us from Georgia and in Seattle we looked at three homes,” recalls Wells. “After they had discovered the other homes didn’t want to sell to a Black family, we moved into our first home and the house is still in the family to this day.”
Over the next several years, Wells followed his father’s path and worked hard and saved enough money to purchase his own first home. A few years later, Wells fulfilled a vision and undertook the task of building a home.
His son, Curtis Wells Jr., recalls many moments of witnessing the work ethic of his father by hanging out as a child at the construction site of their new home.
“What was remarkable to me was witnessing my dad build his own house,” says the younger Wells. “He always would say one day I am going to build my house. That was just mind-blowing to me. My dad made life look easy and where we got our work ethic.”
Through his efforts and diligence, the senior Wells has owned several properties as well as maintaining the original home he grew up in. In the Wells’ legacy being your best and land homeownership are the anchors to a fulfilling life and building generational wealth.
As a property owner and mentor/coach Wells has impacted the lives of his children and grandchildren. He has been influential in the lives of his community’s youth and his community at-large by sharing a value system born out of tragedy and he has passed down the legacy of achievement to his seeds from his father and his Father’s Father.
“Work hard, do and be your best my father always said,” says his son, Kevin Wells.
“My father has worked hard and he has left his legacy in many different forms,” he added. “He is a very caring man, a very caring man willing to help anyone that needs help. That is what he taught us and what he walks. He has built his family a foundation and legacy that we can pass on. He sees things like his career and his endeavors, the things that he has a heart for and puts one hundred percent in it.”