Photos Andy Calvert
A lifetime Roman, Milton Slack was born and raised in Floyd County. He is married to Dr. Clementine Slack, is the father of two children, Michael and Corine, and grandfather to two grandchildren, Tramel and Kaylee. Mr. Slack was educated in the Rome City Schools system during segregated times starting at Mary T. Banks Elementary and graduating from there to Main High School. “Schools were separate but equal, so they say,” Slack says with a chuckle. “You would have to have been a student in one to really know.”
“I was a teenager in the early 1960s, some very turbulent times. I saw some of the worst in people in those times and then I saw as Rome began to make progress and advance. Growing up during integration was a rough time, but I met some good folks within it. I worked for a man that probably saw more of my football games than my dad did. But there were societal boundaries that you had to respect though. Like there was another family I worked at a hotel for. We were integrated within their building, but when we went out of the door, things were a little different. You had a place you were supposed to go,” Slack explains. “Young people today don’t know about that, but how else were you to survive back then?”
After high school, Slack went to work to help his mom raise his other four siblings. He was offered a scholarship offer to Wilberforce University, but turned it down to help at home. “All four of my siblings graduated high school and were then college educated,” he says. “I’m enormously proud of that. There’s one promise to myself that I haven’t fulfilled yet, and that is to finish college. “I first went back to college at the age of 60 and I lack two years till completion.”
“My Grandma always told me, you need to learn something new every day, even if it’s about yourself,” he says. “Because of that advice, I consider myself as a thinker. I can always understand your side of whatever. I may not like it, but I can understand it. So many problems come to you as a city commissioner and I always had to remember that ‘I represent everybody’. I trained myself to think that way. I actually created a formula to help me do just that.
- Whatever you are presented with, whether you like it or not, you look at it.
- Weigh the good against the bad. That includes figuring out who will benefit and also who will be slighted.
- Consider what can happen down the road.
- Put all that together, factor in some reality, and then make your decision.
Plus, you always have to know the biggest factors always include people and money,” Slack says. “I always enjoyed the fact that I was playing a part in keeping Rome afloat. I was elected right as the recession hit. When that happened, a lot of the items that we had on the agenda got pushed back. But I can tell you this, Rome has never been close to being bankrupt.”
Through it all, Slack is proud to call Rome his home. “I’ve seen Rome at its best and I’ve seen Rome at its worst. There’s still no other place I’d rather live and raise my grandchildren. And I’d like to think in my 77 years here, if I didn’t make a mark, I made some noise,” he says.
“I’ve always loved Rome and I’ve never wanted to live anywhere else. I’ve lived a good life,” Slack says with a smile on his face.