Stories

“I’ve been here since I was two, so I’ve been here all my life. When I was young, coming up, it was cool. We used to come outside and play. Everything was smooth. Nowadays, you gotta watch where you’re walking. You can be at the wrong place at the wrong time and not even know it.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing my neighborhood, I love my community. We still got good folks around here and it’s just hard. I just hope that we can do something to make it better.  I grew up doing reckless shit. I was fortunate because I had my mother and my father but my father was in the military, so he wasn’t around much. I got into the streets, you know, I was breaking into cars and doing all the mischievous shit that youngins do. I could say that it was hard but it was all up to me on how I wanted my life to go. I chose to do what everyone else was doing. I wanted to follow the crowd. I followed and got into gang shit. That’s just not where it’s at.  A life-changing moment for me is when I met my girlfriend and her family. I came up in the church but I veered off from it. So, when I got with her, I got back into church. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a saint but I go to church every Sunday and I pray and I’m in the word.  Now, I have a daughter and she’s four years old. If it weren't’ for her and my girl and her kids, I couldn’t see myself being the man that I am now. I’m proud of the man I am, especially coming where I come from.  I grew up around OGs and I was always taught that the knowledge that’s passed down to you, you have teach it to the younger ones. I want to go out here and help some of the young guys that are going through what I’ve been through. I wanna help them.  Just being involved in someone else’s life helps them. It’ll help if a person has someone to talk to about what they’re going through. The problem is that a lot of us don’t have anyone to talk to. If we had someone to have a heart to heart with, I’m pretty sure that a lot of people would be straight. I just wanna help the young people that are thinking about giving up.” - Brandon, Portland

“I’ve been here since I was two, so I’ve been here all my life. When I was young, coming up, it was cool. We used to come outside and play. Everything was smooth. Nowadays, you gotta watch where you’re walking. You can be at the wrong place at the wrong time and not even know it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing my neighborhood, I love my community. We still got good folks around here and it’s just hard. I just hope that we can do something to make it better.

I grew up doing reckless shit. I was fortunate because I had my mother and my father but my father was in the military, so he wasn’t around much. I got into the streets, you know, I was breaking into cars and doing all the mischievous shit that youngins do. I could say that it was hard but it was all up to me on how I wanted my life to go. I chose to do what everyone else was doing. I wanted to follow the crowd. I followed and got into gang shit. That’s just not where it’s at.

A life-changing moment for me is when I met my girlfriend and her family. I came up in the church but I veered off from it. So, when I got with her, I got back into church. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a saint but I go to church every Sunday and I pray and I’m in the word.

Now, I have a daughter and she’s four years old. If it weren't’ for her and my girl and her kids, I couldn’t see myself being the man that I am now. I’m proud of the man I am, especially coming where I come from.

I grew up around OGs and I was always taught that the knowledge that’s passed down to you, you have teach it to the younger ones. I want to go out here and help some of the young guys that are going through what I’ve been through. I wanna help them.

Just being involved in someone else’s life helps them. It’ll help if a person has someone to talk to about what they’re going through. The problem is that a lot of us don’t have anyone to talk to. If we had someone to have a heart to heart with, I’m pretty sure that a lot of people would be straight. I just wanna help the young people that are thinking about giving up.” - Brandon, Portland

“I was born in 1945, right there on Cedar Street. The house is torn down, now. It was right there on the corner. It used to be Club Morraco and all the houses in the area, on that corner. I gotta whole lotta steps on that street - a whole lot of steps. Sam Cooke and all the singers came to Club Morraco back in the fifties.  It wasn’t like it is now, you know, with all the killings and stuff. We had our little spats but they were fists fights and you would go on about your merrily way. We didn’t have any gangs. We had our own little crew that we ran around with. As far as fighting and shooting, that wasn’t going on with the younger people. The older people were the ones doing all the shooting. You didn’t play with them older people.  I was born and raised in the Russell area. We moved from Cedar Street to 19th, between Walnut and Madison Street. Our address was 513, where that empty lot is, where Jay’s Restaurant used to be. There used to be a house right there on that corner. I had a good time, growing up. I didn’t have nothing to squawk about. I come from a good family with five boys and two girls.  It was kinda rough. Some people had food on the table and some people didn’t. We were fortunate. My father was a minister and he had his own church. We ate well but back in the forties and fifties, it was rough but we made it. That’s the main thing - we made it. I graduated from Central High School in ‘63 and went in the Navy and never looked back.  I left in ‘63 and came back in ‘67. I stayed in the navy for four years, oversees. I stayed near the French Riviera. After being over there, I moved to New York and stayed for a while but I decided to come back home. When I came home, I had a good time here. I went to school and worked. I worked at Olin Mathieson, the powder plant. I left there and went to the P. Lorillard Tobacco Factory  that was on 30th and Muhammad Ali. I spent 34 years down there. I started working there in ‘72 and retired in ‘06. I was a mechanic and worked on machinery.  When I moved back, I moved out in the county, off Manslick Rd. I met this young lady and we got married and eventually separated. I left there and moved to St. Matthews, out in Oxmoor, then I came back to the West End. I love the West End. I came back to West End about 20 years ago.  I like to sit out. My friend comes around and tells me that I’m always meddlin’. I’m not meddlin’, I just like to know what’s around me. I like to meet new people. I know everybody up and down this block. We don’t have any problems in this area. I’m out here every day. I won’t sit out in the sun when it’s too warm out. I gotta shade tree that I’ll sit right under. I’ll get a breeze every now and then but as long as this bad boy don’t fall, I’m cool. I sometimes leave here and will walk down to the church, down the block, but I belong to Bethel Baptist Church on 35th and Garland.  I’m here because I like being here. I live by myself because me and my girlfriend couldn’t get along. We separated. I had another girlfriend and we couldn’t get along either and we separated, too.  I don’t have no ill feelings about the West End. I’ll never talk bad about the West End. I hear people do that all the time. I always say that the West End is the best end! There’s crime everywhere; you can’t get around it.  Time changes and nothing stays the same. Like I tell people, “Seasons change, so you know time’s gonna change.” Nothing stays the same. Hold on and don’t take no wooden nickels. Seasons change. Nothing is perfect, so hold on and it’ll get away from you. Don’t give up!” - Benjamin, Parkland

“I was born in 1945, right there on Cedar Street. The house is torn down, now. It was right there on the corner. It used to be Club Morraco and all the houses in the area, on that corner. I gotta whole lotta steps on that street - a whole lot of steps. Sam Cooke and all the singers came to Club Morraco back in the fifties.

It wasn’t like it is now, you know, with all the killings and stuff. We had our little spats but they were fists fights and you would go on about your merrily way. We didn’t have any gangs. We had our own little crew that we ran around with. As far as fighting and shooting, that wasn’t going on with the younger people. The older people were the ones doing all the shooting. You didn’t play with them older people.

I was born and raised in the Russell area. We moved from Cedar Street to 19th, between Walnut and Madison Street. Our address was 513, where that empty lot is, where Jay’s Restaurant used to be. There used to be a house right there on that corner. I had a good time, growing up. I didn’t have nothing to squawk about. I come from a good family with five boys and two girls.

It was kinda rough. Some people had food on the table and some people didn’t. We were fortunate. My father was a minister and he had his own church. We ate well but back in the forties and fifties, it was rough but we made it. That’s the main thing - we made it. I graduated from Central High School in ‘63 and went in the Navy and never looked back.

I left in ‘63 and came back in ‘67. I stayed in the navy for four years, oversees. I stayed near the French Riviera. After being over there, I moved to New York and stayed for a while but I decided to come back home. When I came home, I had a good time here. I went to school and worked. I worked at Olin Mathieson, the powder plant. I left there and went to the P. Lorillard Tobacco Factory

that was on 30th and Muhammad Ali. I spent 34 years down there. I started working there in ‘72 and retired in ‘06. I was a mechanic and worked on machinery.

When I moved back, I moved out in the county, off Manslick Rd. I met this young lady and we got married and eventually separated. I left there and moved to St. Matthews, out in Oxmoor, then I came back to the West End. I love the West End. I came back to West End about 20 years ago.

I like to sit out. My friend comes around and tells me that I’m always meddlin’. I’m not meddlin’, I just like to know what’s around me. I like to meet new people. I know everybody up and down this block. We don’t have any problems in this area. I’m out here every day. I won’t sit out in the sun when it’s too warm out. I gotta shade tree that I’ll sit right under. I’ll get a breeze every now and then but as long as this bad boy don’t fall, I’m cool. I sometimes leave here and will walk down to the church, down the block, but I belong to Bethel Baptist Church on 35th and Garland.

I’m here because I like being here. I live by myself because me and my girlfriend couldn’t get along. We separated. I had another girlfriend and we couldn’t get along either and we separated, too.

I don’t have no ill feelings about the West End. I’ll never talk bad about the West End. I hear people do that all the time. I always say that the West End is the best end! There’s crime everywhere; you can’t get around it.

Time changes and nothing stays the same. Like I tell people, “Seasons change, so you know time’s gonna change.” Nothing stays the same. Hold on and don’t take no wooden nickels. Seasons change. Nothing is perfect, so hold on and it’ll get away from you. Don’t give up!” - Benjamin, Parkland

“I’ve been coming to the Dirt Bowl for about six or seven years, now. It’s like when you turn off Broadway, into the park, it’s always great vibes and great feelings. When you get in here, you see everyone having a good time and just out here living. There’s food and kids everywhere. The police and vendors are here, too. It’s just a good time and it’s exciting to see everybody together and getting along.  My father is actually one of the Dirt Bowl legends - his name is Gerald Gray. I came down here to see the East End play. I have friends that I graduated from high school with that are playing now. So, the Dirt Bowl is literally everywhere, it’s all around me.  If you wanna have a good time, watch some basketball and listen to some good music and have a good time, come to the Dirt Bowl. Your stomach will hurt after all of the laughing, too.” - Lamonique, 2019 Dirt Bowl at Shawnee Park

“I’ve been coming to the Dirt Bowl for about six or seven years, now. It’s like when you turn off Broadway, into the park, it’s always great vibes and great feelings. When you get in here, you see everyone having a good time and just out here living. There’s food and kids everywhere. The police and vendors are here, too. It’s just a good time and it’s exciting to see everybody together and getting along.

My father is actually one of the Dirt Bowl legends - his name is Gerald Gray. I came down here to see the East End play. I have friends that I graduated from high school with that are playing now. So, the Dirt Bowl is literally everywhere, it’s all around me.

If you wanna have a good time, watch some basketball and listen to some good music and have a good time, come to the Dirt Bowl. Your stomach will hurt after all of the laughing, too.” - Lamonique, 2019 Dirt Bowl at Shawnee Park

“It’s nice here. I’ve been here, in Russell, for about two years now. I live next door to that church over there. I don’t attend it but I do get the word because he puts that big box (speaker) out there for everyone to hear. It’s pretty nice and laid back, I like it. I don’t like that I don’t have a washer and dryer but other than that, it’s been nice.  I’ve been in the West End all my life. I use to live in the California neighborhood, on Prentice. That’s where I was born and raised. Coming up was good, you know that old school stuff. It wasn’t like it is now - it’s crazy now. There’s no hopscotch, hide n’ seek, or jump rope. That was good stuff. Maybe, we just need to do it with the kids. Sometimes, we’re not taking the time out to do it with them. I had it good, growing up. I guess I’m old-timey.  Living here has been positive. Growing up in the West End, I learned how to respect people. We got along with each other and because of that, it’s made me a good person. Now, it seems like people can be so hateful towards one another. We just need to love one another. It always seems like we don’t like each other. We just kill each other and it’s grimy.  When I lost my mama, it made me grow up. That impacted my life in a big way. I was always with her. She was living with me. People thought that I couldn’t make it on my own but I could. I took care of her but we took care of each other but I had to get out on my own. I had to learn how to really be by myself. That was life changing for me. I had to grow up and be a woman. She died in March 2011. That was life-changing. It’s a blessing to still have your mom because you’ll miss them every day when they’re gone.” - Teresa, Russell

“It’s nice here. I’ve been here, in Russell, for about two years now. I live next door to that church over there. I don’t attend it but I do get the word because he puts that big box (speaker) out there for everyone to hear. It’s pretty nice and laid back, I like it. I don’t like that I don’t have a washer and dryer but other than that, it’s been nice.

I’ve been in the West End all my life. I use to live in the California neighborhood, on Prentice. That’s where I was born and raised. Coming up was good, you know that old school stuff. It wasn’t like it is now - it’s crazy now. There’s no hopscotch, hide n’ seek, or jump rope. That was good stuff. Maybe, we just need to do it with the kids. Sometimes, we’re not taking the time out to do it with them. I had it good, growing up. I guess I’m old-timey.

Living here has been positive. Growing up in the West End, I learned how to respect people. We got along with each other and because of that, it’s made me a good person. Now, it seems like people can be so hateful towards one another. We just need to love one another. It always seems like we don’t like each other. We just kill each other and it’s grimy.

When I lost my mama, it made me grow up. That impacted my life in a big way. I was always with her. She was living with me. People thought that I couldn’t make it on my own but I could. I took care of her but we took care of each other but I had to get out on my own. I had to learn how to really be by myself. That was life changing for me. I had to grow up and be a woman. She died in March 2011. That was life-changing. It’s a blessing to still have your mom because you’ll miss them every day when they’re gone.” - Teresa, Russell

“We met through one of her friends. It was like one of her friends was talkin’ to one of my friends and that’s how it happened. You feel me, I made my move and she made her move. It’s been close to a month.  Some people are more open than other people. I feel like if you’re going to mess with somebody, it’s gonna have to be with someone that you know. It’s gotta be someone that you’ll put your all into. If you can’t do that then, for real, you don’t need to be with them. You know how that goes, everybody got their ways and you can’t mess with people’s flaws.  I make music, a lot of music. I got music on Apple and Spotify. I make music every day, nonstop. If it ain’t my music then I don’t know what it’s gonna be. I’ll have a back-up plan but I ain’t got to that yet. Right now, it’s about my music.  Money keeps me motivated. Man, I live in the West End and it’s hard getting a job out here. There’s nothing out here for us. People gotta make that money somehow and some way. Everybody ain’t doin’ the right thing. As long you’re gettin’ money and stayin’ out the way, you’re smooth. That’s all you can do is get money til you get out. If you can’t get out, I don’t know what to tell you. I’ma get out.  I’ma get out the West End to get where I’m supposed to be, to come back and do what I’m supposed to do. Right now, I’m not where I could do that for the West End, so I got to get out. I gotta put my talents somewhere else to get where I’m supposed to be. I wanna make enough funds to do what I wanna do for the West End and then come back down here and do that. It’s a process but I’m not in no rush to do it.” - Brandyn (pictured with Camryn), Shawnee

“We met through one of her friends. It was like one of her friends was talkin’ to one of my friends and that’s how it happened. You feel me, I made my move and she made her move. It’s been close to a month.

Some people are more open than other people. I feel like if you’re going to mess with somebody, it’s gonna have to be with someone that you know. It’s gotta be someone that you’ll put your all into. If you can’t do that then, for real, you don’t need to be with them. You know how that goes, everybody got their ways and you can’t mess with people’s flaws.

I make music, a lot of music. I got music on Apple and Spotify. I make music every day, nonstop. If it ain’t my music then I don’t know what it’s gonna be. I’ll have a back-up plan but I ain’t got to that yet. Right now, it’s about my music.

Money keeps me motivated. Man, I live in the West End and it’s hard getting a job out here. There’s nothing out here for us. People gotta make that money somehow and some way. Everybody ain’t doin’ the right thing. As long you’re gettin’ money and stayin’ out the way, you’re smooth. That’s all you can do is get money til you get out. If you can’t get out, I don’t know what to tell you. I’ma get out.

I’ma get out the West End to get where I’m supposed to be, to come back and do what I’m supposed to do. Right now, I’m not where I could do that for the West End, so I got to get out. I gotta put my talents somewhere else to get where I’m supposed to be. I wanna make enough funds to do what I wanna do for the West End and then come back down here and do that. It’s a process but I’m not in no rush to do it.” - Brandyn (pictured with Camryn), Shawnee

“Being back here, I see that a lot has changed. There’s a lot of people trying to change the West End. There’s a lot of people that are marching up and down the streets, passing out flyers, trying to stop the violence. I think there’s doing good; they are really trying. It just takes the neighborhood to help them.  If I could change anything about myself, it would be me not having an education. I would’ve stayed in high school. I could’ve had me a better job - my education.  Being in the foster care that I was in played a huge part in me not finishing. The foster care I was in was racist. The school I was in didn’t care about me. I got into a lot of fights and got kicked out. I ended up going to Paducah because that’s where they sent me.  It was difficult, it still is difficult. Being the age that I am now, I still have a lot of problems with what happened back then. I’m still trying to solve those problems. Other than that, I think I turned out okay. I won’t say that I have regrets; I have wishes.  I definitely want to get my education but most of all I want to make sure that my daughter is aware of how the world is. I’m trying to prepare her for the world. She keeps me motivated. If it weren’t for her, I’d probably be in jail or prison. I want her to get her education, go for her goals, and to not let anybody tell her that she can’t. In my mind, there’s no such word as ‘can’t’. I don’t say that I can’t. Instead, I’ll say that I’ll try and that’s what I want to teach my daughter.  Man, stay in school and put the guns down. These streets are not what it’s all cracked up to be. Popularity is not where it is. All this social media, tv and all that got people thinking that they’ll be famous but they’re not. It does nothing but put a label on you.” - Ti-Ti, Shawnee

“Being back here, I see that a lot has changed. There’s a lot of people trying to change the West End. There’s a lot of people that are marching up and down the streets, passing out flyers, trying to stop the violence. I think there’s doing good; they are really trying. It just takes the neighborhood to help them.

If I could change anything about myself, it would be me not having an education. I would’ve stayed in high school. I could’ve had me a better job - my education.

Being in the foster care that I was in played a huge part in me not finishing. The foster care I was in was racist. The school I was in didn’t care about me. I got into a lot of fights and got kicked out. I ended up going to Paducah because that’s where they sent me.

It was difficult, it still is difficult. Being the age that I am now, I still have a lot of problems with what happened back then. I’m still trying to solve those problems. Other than that, I think I turned out okay. I won’t say that I have regrets; I have wishes.

I definitely want to get my education but most of all I want to make sure that my daughter is aware of how the world is. I’m trying to prepare her for the world. She keeps me motivated. If it weren’t for her, I’d probably be in jail or prison. I want her to get her education, go for her goals, and to not let anybody tell her that she can’t. In my mind, there’s no such word as ‘can’t’. I don’t say that I can’t. Instead, I’ll say that I’ll try and that’s what I want to teach my daughter.

Man, stay in school and put the guns down. These streets are not what it’s all cracked up to be. Popularity is not where it is. All this social media, tv and all that got people thinking that they’ll be famous but they’re not. It does nothing but put a label on you.” - Ti-Ti, Shawnee

“I’ve been down here for a few years. I lived in the east end, I grew up in Sheppard Square. My family lives down here. It can be cool but rough at times. Some people don’t have a choice when it comes to being in the streets. That’s just what it has to be because that’s all they got. Like I said, one day can be cool and the next day can be all fucked up.  How do I deal with my struggle? I keep everything to myself. I don’t talk to anybody. When I got shit going on, I stay to myself. I just sit in the house and think about what I need to to do to make it another day. Shit don’t always work out how you want it to. Ya dig? I just hope for the best at all times. If I’m in a bad situation, I really don’t down myself because it’s going to make it even worse than what it is. I always try to keep my head high, no matter what.  My little brothers and sisters keep me motivated. My momma and granny are my world and they keep me motivated too. I just got out a few months ago; I did seven months in juvenile. I remember being on the phone with my little brothers and sisters, missing birthdays and all that. That made me want more for myself.  Doing that time opened my eyes to all the stupid shit I was doing. I was running the streets. I had to change. I realize what’s important and what’s not. I know what’s reality and what ain’t. I learned how to handle my business in a better way, instead of all that silly shit I was doing to get locked up. That was uncalled for because I chose to do some hothead stuff.  I want to own my business. Hopefully, that goes right when I get back in school. I have to go take my GED next week. I just passed my pre-test and I plan on going to to this junior college in Chicago. If I pass my test, I’ll be able to play football for them. School starts in August, so I’ll be out of here. I can get prepared and get everything on track.  Don’t give up and I don’t care what anyone tells you. You can do whatever you want as long as you put your mind to that shit. Oh, and don’t let anyone influence you into doing some shit that you don’t wanna do.  Live your life the way you want to and the best way that you can live it. It’s only right. Take it from somebody that’s been locked up and been from pillar to post. I ran the streets and all that. That’s not where it’s at, man. Stay in school and that’s for all the young cats. I got little brothers and sisters, so don’t think that because I’m out here, that I don’t have a heart. I love mine to death. I tell them every day to keep their head on a swivel. I used to get suspended all the time; that ain’t it. Don’t do it.” - Kelvonnie, Portland

“I’ve been down here for a few years. I lived in the east end, I grew up in Sheppard Square. My family lives down here. It can be cool but rough at times. Some people don’t have a choice when it comes to being in the streets. That’s just what it has to be because that’s all they got. Like I said, one day can be cool and the next day can be all fucked up.

How do I deal with my struggle? I keep everything to myself. I don’t talk to anybody. When I got shit going on, I stay to myself. I just sit in the house and think about what I need to to do to make it another day. Shit don’t always work out how you want it to. Ya dig? I just hope for the best at all times. If I’m in a bad situation, I really don’t down myself because it’s going to make it even worse than what it is. I always try to keep my head high, no matter what.

My little brothers and sisters keep me motivated. My momma and granny are my world and they keep me motivated too. I just got out a few months ago; I did seven months in juvenile. I remember being on the phone with my little brothers and sisters, missing birthdays and all that. That made me want more for myself.

Doing that time opened my eyes to all the stupid shit I was doing. I was running the streets. I had to change. I realize what’s important and what’s not. I know what’s reality and what ain’t. I learned how to handle my business in a better way, instead of all that silly shit I was doing to get locked up. That was uncalled for because I chose to do some hothead stuff.

I want to own my business. Hopefully, that goes right when I get back in school. I have to go take my GED next week. I just passed my pre-test and I plan on going to to this junior college in Chicago. If I pass my test, I’ll be able to play football for them. School starts in August, so I’ll be out of here. I can get prepared and get everything on track.

Don’t give up and I don’t care what anyone tells you. You can do whatever you want as long as you put your mind to that shit. Oh, and don’t let anyone influence you into doing some shit that you don’t wanna do.

Live your life the way you want to and the best way that you can live it. It’s only right. Take it from somebody that’s been locked up and been from pillar to post. I ran the streets and all that. That’s not where it’s at, man. Stay in school and that’s for all the young cats. I got little brothers and sisters, so don’t think that because I’m out here, that I don’t have a heart. I love mine to death. I tell them every day to keep their head on a swivel. I used to get suspended all the time; that ain’t it. Don’t do it.” - Kelvonnie, Portland

“The joy of being a father is being able to see yourself in them. The joy that they have and the smile on their face when you got ‘em a home and food on the table is real. That’s setting a really good example for the kids. It just brings joy to me and it puts a smile on my face when I see them smile.  The other side of it comes with the discipline. They get mad at me, of course, because I won’t let them do this or that at one or two o’clock in the morning. For the most part, I’m happy to be here to see this. If you’re a parent and you have an opportunity to be in your child’s life, do that because they may not say anything about it, but it’s instilled in their head that their parent is in their life. That’s something that they’ll never forget it. They’ll never forget that you’ve been to one of their games or at their graduations.  The challenge to fatherhood is to try not to let my kids feel my pain. As a father, that doesn’t mean that we get a get out of jail free card. We got bills that have to be paid and loss of work because of an illness or something. That’s heavy on a father’s mind when he’s head of household. “How are we gonna get this done? How are we gonna get that done?”. I’ve been through it and I ain’t gonna say that I haven’t. The challenge of that is to never let your kids see you break because they’re looking to you as strength. So, if you can hold that without snappin’ on them and keep being a role model, you’ll be a good parent. That’s what gets me through.  I don’t ever put no negative activity in their face. I party, have guests over and stuff but they don’t see any of that. That’s what I do, I’m grown.” - Silk, pictured with his Son, Sayvon in Park DuValle

“The joy of being a father is being able to see yourself in them. The joy that they have and the smile on their face when you got ‘em a home and food on the table is real. That’s setting a really good example for the kids. It just brings joy to me and it puts a smile on my face when I see them smile.

The other side of it comes with the discipline. They get mad at me, of course, because I won’t let them do this or that at one or two o’clock in the morning. For the most part, I’m happy to be here to see this. If you’re a parent and you have an opportunity to be in your child’s life, do that because they may not say anything about it, but it’s instilled in their head that their parent is in their life. That’s something that they’ll never forget it. They’ll never forget that you’ve been to one of their games or at their graduations.

The challenge to fatherhood is to try not to let my kids feel my pain. As a father, that doesn’t mean that we get a get out of jail free card. We got bills that have to be paid and loss of work because of an illness or something. That’s heavy on a father’s mind when he’s head of household. “How are we gonna get this done? How are we gonna get that done?”. I’ve been through it and I ain’t gonna say that I haven’t. The challenge of that is to never let your kids see you break because they’re looking to you as strength. So, if you can hold that without snappin’ on them and keep being a role model, you’ll be a good parent. That’s what gets me through.

I don’t ever put no negative activity in their face. I party, have guests over and stuff but they don’t see any of that. That’s what I do, I’m grown.” - Silk, pictured with his Son, Sayvon in Park DuValle

“It’s very family oriented and you see a lot of love shown down here. What makes it home to me? I can walk down the street and know somebody. I can walk around the corner and somebody would be ready to help me with anything. It’s lots of help and love but at the same time, there’s a lot of lost souls.  We need more love for the youth because we’re the future. We need more people to set examples and give us guidance. You see liquor stores on every corner. Where are the bookstores? I wanna see stuff that’ll help us and allow us to come together. I would like to see a difference. I wanna see unity, love, support, and happiness. I’m tired of seeing gun violence and drugs. We need more black-owned businesses and fewer liquor stores! The kids need a place to go to after school and adults need places where they can just hang out. We just don’t have anything like that.  My biggest influence is my mother. As a single parent of three, she did an awesome job with us. She instilled wisdom and knowledge by showing me that you always need to know where you’re going and where you come from. She taught me that I can’t stay in one place too long - I have to keep going. My mother keeps me going. We just went to go look at colleges and I’m feeling good about that. I was lost at first but after visiting colleges, I’m feeling really good about myself. I know what I want to do.  I plan on going to Sullivan. They have a lot of stuff for me. I want to own my own business, so I’m going to be taking up marketing and business management. I want to own a hair salon. I feel that Sullivan will help me with my career. They are directing people to make their own paths. I learned about the guy that owns Super Chefs. He went to Sullivan and graduated from there. I learned that he didn’t have any money and was homeless. I found that it was amazing that he took a chance on himself and created a successful business. That’s role model goals!  I sometimes battle depression but there are people around me who help and show me that there are better ways to go about things and that I don’t always have to be down. I put God first, too. Like, when I’m not in the best of moods, I got my mom and family that help me. Even when I’m in the West End and I’m walking down the street, there’s always somebody saying, “Smile, young lady!” At the end of the day, life is something to be happy about. Every day that you wake up is a blessing. There’s a purpose for everyone’s life. In order to fulfill your purpose, you have to live.” - Shania, Russell

“It’s very family oriented and you see a lot of love shown down here. What makes it home to me? I can walk down the street and know somebody. I can walk around the corner and somebody would be ready to help me with anything. It’s lots of help and love but at the same time, there’s a lot of lost souls.

We need more love for the youth because we’re the future. We need more people to set examples and give us guidance. You see liquor stores on every corner. Where are the bookstores? I wanna see stuff that’ll help us and allow us to come together. I would like to see a difference. I wanna see unity, love, support, and happiness. I’m tired of seeing gun violence and drugs. We need more black-owned businesses and fewer liquor stores! The kids need a place to go to after school and adults need places where they can just hang out. We just don’t have anything like that.

My biggest influence is my mother. As a single parent of three, she did an awesome job with us. She instilled wisdom and knowledge by showing me that you always need to know where you’re going and where you come from. She taught me that I can’t stay in one place too long - I have to keep going. My mother keeps me going. We just went to go look at colleges and I’m feeling good about that. I was lost at first but after visiting colleges, I’m feeling really good about myself. I know what I want to do.

I plan on going to Sullivan. They have a lot of stuff for me. I want to own my own business, so I’m going to be taking up marketing and business management. I want to own a hair salon. I feel that Sullivan will help me with my career. They are directing people to make their own paths. I learned about the guy that owns Super Chefs. He went to Sullivan and graduated from there. I learned that he didn’t have any money and was homeless. I found that it was amazing that he took a chance on himself and created a successful business. That’s role model goals!

I sometimes battle depression but there are people around me who help and show me that there are better ways to go about things and that I don’t always have to be down. I put God first, too. Like, when I’m not in the best of moods, I got my mom and family that help me. Even when I’m in the West End and I’m walking down the street, there’s always somebody saying, “Smile, young lady!” At the end of the day, life is something to be happy about. Every day that you wake up is a blessing. There’s a purpose for everyone’s life. In order to fulfill your purpose, you have to live.” - Shania, Russell

“I had three kids in ‘72, ‘75, and ‘76. I had to raise them first before I went out and did anything else. When I became a mother, I knew I had to do my best to make sure they were well taken care of. They never had to look for somewhere to stay, I gave them a nice home. Having my kids and God allowing me to have them was the happiest moment of my life.  I never went anywhere and done too much. Times got hard when my husband and I got divorced. My kids were young and I had to work hard everyday to make sure they were straight. Every day, I had to get on the bus to take them to school and pick them up. I made sure they had their meals and all the homework was done. They had what all the other kids in the neighborhood had. As a single mother, I made sure that my children never lacked for anything.” - Linda, Shawnee

“I had three kids in ‘72, ‘75, and ‘76. I had to raise them first before I went out and did anything else. When I became a mother, I knew I had to do my best to make sure they were well taken care of. They never had to look for somewhere to stay, I gave them a nice home. Having my kids and God allowing me to have them was the happiest moment of my life.

I never went anywhere and done too much. Times got hard when my husband and I got divorced. My kids were young and I had to work hard everyday to make sure they were straight. Every day, I had to get on the bus to take them to school and pick them up. I made sure they had their meals and all the homework was done. They had what all the other kids in the neighborhood had. As a single mother, I made sure that my children never lacked for anything.” - Linda, Shawnee

“Last year, on Mother’s Day, I almost died. I was headed to Cincinnati and my truck font tire blew and I lost control of the car. It knocked me unconscious and I was thrown through the window. I was on I-71. From there I had to be airlifted. I remember bits and pieces. I had six broken ribs, two fractured vertebrae, a broken finger, a broken toe, lacerations everywhere, and a head injury.  For a while, I thought that I would never cook again. That was my main thing. It’s what I love. So every day and every week, I would do something different to push myself. When I came home from the hospital, everybody came and brought food to the house and I thought that I had to cook. I was still hobbling around and trying to cook and people would have to tell me to sit down. I still cooked. I made myself do it and people would call and ask me when I was going to get back to it. I started out doing it two to three times a week. I was trying to push myself to try to get back into the groove of things.  Seven months later, I was given the opportunity to open a restaurant here. So far, the three weeks that we’ve been here has been awesome. The support that we’ve been getting has been amazing. I’ve built such a great clientele. People come by just to see the progress of me. You know, they’ll say that I don’t look like I’ve been thrown through a window. It’s been pretty awesome.  My children work here in the afternoons. I want to teach them how to be their own boss, especially living down here in the West End. There’s so much opportunity down here and you have to get it yourself. So, I have a fourteen-year-old and she’s my cashier in the afternoon. I have a twelve-year-old son that cleans tables and takes the garbage out and I have another child who cleans around the area. That’s their jobs. They know that they can strive to be like me and make this work.  We need love put in our food. You can go to any commercial restaurant but the food is not prepared with love. We have so much processed and packaged food. Everything is freshly cooked here. There may be a wait because we’re preparing it, which is why it’s best to call ahead. I make sure that everything looks appealing. I’m not going to give you something that I’m not going to eat.  It’s a wonderful experience. We have a lot of people down here that are homeless or on drugs and during the evening, I give out food. There’s no point in holding onto food that we have at the end of the day. It’s pretty interesting meeting different people. It’s pretty dope.  Being down here in the West End is awesome because there are more people like me. It gives you the opportunity to just see yourself in someone else and be able to talk to people because everyone has a story.  My ultimate goal for “That’s a Wrap” is to have multiple locations. I would like to have a building that, not only caters to food but has different outsources as well. I don’t want to just focus on me. I want to help other people.” - Natasha, owner of That’s a Wrap in Portland

“Last year, on Mother’s Day, I almost died. I was headed to Cincinnati and my truck font tire blew and I lost control of the car. It knocked me unconscious and I was thrown through the window. I was on I-71. From there I had to be airlifted. I remember bits and pieces. I had six broken ribs, two fractured vertebrae, a broken finger, a broken toe, lacerations everywhere, and a head injury.

For a while, I thought that I would never cook again. That was my main thing. It’s what I love. So every day and every week, I would do something different to push myself. When I came home from the hospital, everybody came and brought food to the house and I thought that I had to cook. I was still hobbling around and trying to cook and people would have to tell me to sit down. I still cooked. I made myself do it and people would call and ask me when I was going to get back to it. I started out doing it two to three times a week. I was trying to push myself to try to get back into the groove of things.

Seven months later, I was given the opportunity to open a restaurant here. So far, the three weeks that we’ve been here has been awesome. The support that we’ve been getting has been amazing. I’ve built such a great clientele. People come by just to see the progress of me. You know, they’ll say that I don’t look like I’ve been thrown through a window. It’s been pretty awesome.

My children work here in the afternoons. I want to teach them how to be their own boss, especially living down here in the West End. There’s so much opportunity down here and you have to get it yourself. So, I have a fourteen-year-old and she’s my cashier in the afternoon. I have a twelve-year-old son that cleans tables and takes the garbage out and I have another child who cleans around the area. That’s their jobs. They know that they can strive to be like me and make this work.

We need love put in our food. You can go to any commercial restaurant but the food is not prepared with love. We have so much processed and packaged food. Everything is freshly cooked here. There may be a wait because we’re preparing it, which is why it’s best to call ahead. I make sure that everything looks appealing. I’m not going to give you something that I’m not going to eat.

It’s a wonderful experience. We have a lot of people down here that are homeless or on drugs and during the evening, I give out food. There’s no point in holding onto food that we have at the end of the day. It’s pretty interesting meeting different people. It’s pretty dope.

Being down here in the West End is awesome because there are more people like me. It gives you the opportunity to just see yourself in someone else and be able to talk to people because everyone has a story.

My ultimate goal for “That’s a Wrap” is to have multiple locations. I would like to have a building that, not only caters to food but has different outsources as well. I don’t want to just focus on me. I want to help other people.” - Natasha, owner of That’s a Wrap in Portland

“Growing up, there was always a big group of kids from the neighborhood, from every block, that would get together. None of us knew each other, except for a few of us, but we were all thrown outside by our parents. They would make us go play and get to know each other. We all became best friends. We call each other brother and sister, til this day. We’ve been hanging out since we were eight years old. We used to go around the neighborhood and play games like manhunt or tag. As we got older, we stayed connected. Even though we went to different universities, we still come back home and plan days to be with each other. Sometimes, we might just meet up as a few of us because some of us are still in Louisville. We just stay connected and have fun since we’re young.  Right now, I’m going to Jefferson Community & Technical College. I’m actually getting ready to transfer to Indiana University Southeast. The other kids around here go to Louisville. A couple of them go to Bellarmine. The other ones are at Purdue, Ohio, and Kentucky. We’re everywhere.  I just switched my major to business administration, marketing and sales. I plan to be a project construction manager and get into real estate.  Since I was younger, I always loved to build and create stuff with my hands. My mom graduated from college and owns her own business and seeing her doing that got me interested. I always loved real estate. My parents were in it before and they’re trying to get back into and start a family business.  I really just want to build a name for my family. We’re not poor but we’re not rich either. My dad used to always tell me, “If you don’t come from a rich family, make a rich family come from you.” It’s more like a family thing is it’s more personal to me. I just want to start something new with my family. I want to change some things and not just for my family but for the image of a black woman or a black person. I want people to see what I’m doing and know that it’s possible.  Stay focused and be confident in yourself. Once I became confident, I accomplished a lot more. I feel like I can do anything. Some things might be harder for me, than others, obviously. Just having confidence and trust in myself has taken me a lot further.” - Marra, Park DuValle

“Growing up, there was always a big group of kids from the neighborhood, from every block, that would get together. None of us knew each other, except for a few of us, but we were all thrown outside by our parents. They would make us go play and get to know each other. We all became best friends. We call each other brother and sister, til this day. We’ve been hanging out since we were eight years old. We used to go around the neighborhood and play games like manhunt or tag. As we got older, we stayed connected. Even though we went to different universities, we still come back home and plan days to be with each other. Sometimes, we might just meet up as a few of us because some of us are still in Louisville. We just stay connected and have fun since we’re young.

Right now, I’m going to Jefferson Community & Technical College. I’m actually getting ready to transfer to Indiana University Southeast. The other kids around here go to Louisville. A couple of them go to Bellarmine. The other ones are at Purdue, Ohio, and Kentucky. We’re everywhere.

I just switched my major to business administration, marketing and sales. I plan to be a project construction manager and get into real estate.

Since I was younger, I always loved to build and create stuff with my hands. My mom graduated from college and owns her own business and seeing her doing that got me interested. I always loved real estate. My parents were in it before and they’re trying to get back into and start a family business.

I really just want to build a name for my family. We’re not poor but we’re not rich either. My dad used to always tell me, “If you don’t come from a rich family, make a rich family come from you.” It’s more like a family thing is it’s more personal to me. I just want to start something new with my family. I want to change some things and not just for my family but for the image of a black woman or a black person. I want people to see what I’m doing and know that it’s possible.

Stay focused and be confident in yourself. Once I became confident, I accomplished a lot more. I feel like I can do anything. Some things might be harder for me, than others, obviously. Just having confidence and trust in myself has taken me a lot further.” - Marra, Park DuValle

“I’ve been here for fourteen years. I was four and I’m eighteen now. The River City Drum Corp. has made me a totally different person than what I would have been. I’m more responsible and better at getting stuff done. I know that real life has consequences and there are rewards to good things that you do. It taught me how to be an adult. The biggest lesson that I take from RCDC is that if I don’t get my stuff done, I won’t be able to have fun. It’s all about responsibility.  Drumming is my passion, it’s what I do. If I was to drop everything and forced to choose one thing, it would be drumming. I’m just naturally good at it and it’s what I love to do. I get to reach others through it. I get to teach all the kids and the older kids and make people smile. I wanna make people smile and dance. We’re just doing good stuff over here, especially with the drums.  What’s next? I’m going to college. I want to go to Tennessee State University. Hopefully, I’ll get to play there. I’m waiting to hear back about scholarship stuff. I’m going to get my degree in aeronautical and industrial technology. It has to do with aviation and airplanes.  As far as drumming, I won’t do it professionally but I will definitely come back to Drum Corp. to help teach the younger kids coming up and make them better. I want all of them to be better than me and they can come back and teach and keep it going. That’s what somebody did with me. Alumni came back and taught me so much stuff that I didn’t even know. I plan on going to TSU and learn new stuff and will come back and help make the kids better, so they can make somebody else better.  Whatever you want to do, if you really want to do it, don’t give up. It doesn’t matter how long it takes or how hard it is, you have to keep going. If you really want to do it, just keep trying. If you want to do it, you’ll it. Don’t say you can’t do it. Tell yourself that you can and practice at it. Remember that it takes time to accomplish stuff, so don’t give up.” - Jaylen, Louisville River City Drum Corp in Park DuValle

“I’ve been here for fourteen years. I was four and I’m eighteen now. The River City Drum Corp. has made me a totally different person than what I would have been. I’m more responsible and better at getting stuff done. I know that real life has consequences and there are rewards to good things that you do. It taught me how to be an adult. The biggest lesson that I take from RCDC is that if I don’t get my stuff done, I won’t be able to have fun. It’s all about responsibility.

Drumming is my passion, it’s what I do. If I was to drop everything and forced to choose one thing, it would be drumming. I’m just naturally good at it and it’s what I love to do. I get to reach others through it. I get to teach all the kids and the older kids and make people smile. I wanna make people smile and dance. We’re just doing good stuff over here, especially with the drums.

What’s next? I’m going to college. I want to go to Tennessee State University. Hopefully, I’ll get to play there. I’m waiting to hear back about scholarship stuff. I’m going to get my degree in aeronautical and industrial technology. It has to do with aviation and airplanes.

As far as drumming, I won’t do it professionally but I will definitely come back to Drum Corp. to help teach the younger kids coming up and make them better. I want all of them to be better than me and they can come back and teach and keep it going. That’s what somebody did with me. Alumni came back and taught me so much stuff that I didn’t even know. I plan on going to TSU and learn new stuff and will come back and help make the kids better, so they can make somebody else better.

Whatever you want to do, if you really want to do it, don’t give up. It doesn’t matter how long it takes or how hard it is, you have to keep going. If you really want to do it, just keep trying. If you want to do it, you’ll it. Don’t say you can’t do it. Tell yourself that you can and practice at it. Remember that it takes time to accomplish stuff, so don’t give up.” - Jaylen, Louisville River City Drum Corp in Park DuValle

“Everybody looks at me weird because I’m a black man, in the hood, with a pig. I done had every animal before. This was just the next step. They’re just like dogs. You can potty train and teach them tricks. It’s something different. I’ve been having pigs for about three years. Most people think that they’re real hard-headed and stubborn and they do at times. They’re pretty smart.  I got a friend whose pig rings a bell when it wants to go outside. He does it all. He’s potty trained and goes in the litter box just like a dog or a cat. They’re very intelligent. They’re not dirty like everyone thinks they are. Everybody thinks that they’re just filthy and they’re not. They like to get dirty from time to time but they’re pretty clean. They’re good. It’s just a different experience. Read up on them and check it out. You might end up liking it.  Make sure you do your research. Some people are out here selling real live hog pigs, the big ones. Make sure you get a pot belly or a small one. I’m about to get my license, so I can start breeding them. Most of us don’t know much about or how to get them, so that’s a business that I’m thinking about starting. People can learn about pigs and eventually will want to raise one.” - Wiliam (pictured with his pig, Duke), Shawnee

“Everybody looks at me weird because I’m a black man, in the hood, with a pig. I done had every animal before. This was just the next step. They’re just like dogs. You can potty train and teach them tricks. It’s something different. I’ve been having pigs for about three years. Most people think that they’re real hard-headed and stubborn and they do at times. They’re pretty smart.

I got a friend whose pig rings a bell when it wants to go outside. He does it all. He’s potty trained and goes in the litter box just like a dog or a cat. They’re very intelligent. They’re not dirty like everyone thinks they are. Everybody thinks that they’re just filthy and they’re not. They like to get dirty from time to time but they’re pretty clean. They’re good. It’s just a different experience. Read up on them and check it out. You might end up liking it.

Make sure you do your research. Some people are out here selling real live hog pigs, the big ones. Make sure you get a pot belly or a small one. I’m about to get my license, so I can start breeding them. Most of us don’t know much about or how to get them, so that’s a business that I’m thinking about starting. People can learn about pigs and eventually will want to raise one.” - Wiliam (pictured with his pig, Duke), Shawnee

“I’ve been here since 1998. It’s been twenty-one years. When I came here, I was the only business here. It was just me, Chevron and Kroger. I remember when I first opened up my business, the police used to be worried about me. At that time, there was a lot of crime over here. If I had a problem with the building and needed repairs, people would ask for my address and I would tell them 2015 West Broadway and they would tell me that they didn’t come this far. That was just twenty years ago, not even a long time ago.  People were scared to come to the West End. Now, people are coming back to live here and the crime is lower. People are wanting to spend money and support black businesses. I think that if they do that, it’ll help us and the community. We live here and we’ll spend money here.  It’s a lot of changes. When I first came here, it was rough and there was a lot of crime and lot of stuff. Things have changed. None of these buildings were here. It was a lot of empty lots. So, it’s a lot of changes. I think with the new developments, they could do more. Even with the little things that they do, it would make some big changes.  For example, they were supposed to put Walmart over here and people fought. Walmart would have been good. It could have brought a lot of people from a ten mile radius. With Passport, I don’t know. I hope they hire people from the West End. They said that they were gong to hire five hundred people. I hope it’s not going to be a bunch of people, from outside, that will just come to work and go home. We’re not going to benefit from it. The YMCA will be good for the neighborhood. The director said that he’s going to make sure that every kid knows how to swim, so that’s good. That’ll be a positive thing for the neighborhood.  I think the West End is headed in a good direction, if they let us do more. We have to come together and do more  instead of complaining. For example, they complained about Walmart. Now, Walmart’s gone and what do we get? We get nothing. Walmart being here, would have kept people from going so far. It would have been competition for Kroger and they would have to drop their prices. But they didn’t look at it that way. Also, they were going to hire two to three hundred people in the neighborhood. Also, people wouldn’t have to travel to ten miles. The closest one is where? Cane Run? Indiana? Instead people complained about a parking lot. Would you rather park five hundred feet or drive ten miles? It just doesn't make any sense. We gotta stop the complaining.” - Babinta Kiota, owner of Broadway Fashion & Decor , pictured with Mohamed, Russell

“I’ve been here since 1998. It’s been twenty-one years. When I came here, I was the only business here. It was just me, Chevron and Kroger. I remember when I first opened up my business, the police used to be worried about me. At that time, there was a lot of crime over here. If I had a problem with the building and needed repairs, people would ask for my address and I would tell them 2015 West Broadway and they would tell me that they didn’t come this far. That was just twenty years ago, not even a long time ago.

People were scared to come to the West End. Now, people are coming back to live here and the crime is lower. People are wanting to spend money and support black businesses. I think that if they do that, it’ll help us and the community. We live here and we’ll spend money here.

It’s a lot of changes. When I first came here, it was rough and there was a lot of crime and lot of stuff. Things have changed. None of these buildings were here. It was a lot of empty lots. So, it’s a lot of changes. I think with the new developments, they could do more. Even with the little things that they do, it would make some big changes.

For example, they were supposed to put Walmart over here and people fought. Walmart would have been good. It could have brought a lot of people from a ten mile radius. With Passport, I don’t know. I hope they hire people from the West End. They said that they were gong to hire five hundred people. I hope it’s not going to be a bunch of people, from outside, that will just come to work and go home. We’re not going to benefit from it. The YMCA will be good for the neighborhood. The director said that he’s going to make sure that every kid knows how to swim, so that’s good. That’ll be a positive thing for the neighborhood.

I think the West End is headed in a good direction, if they let us do more. We have to come together and do more  instead of complaining. For example, they complained about Walmart. Now, Walmart’s gone and what do we get? We get nothing. Walmart being here, would have kept people from going so far. It would have been competition for Kroger and they would have to drop their prices. But they didn’t look at it that way. Also, they were going to hire two to three hundred people in the neighborhood. Also, people wouldn’t have to travel to ten miles. The closest one is where? Cane Run? Indiana? Instead people complained about a parking lot. Would you rather park five hundred feet or drive ten miles? It just doesn't make any sense. We gotta stop the complaining.” - Babinta Kiota, owner of Broadway Fashion & Decor , pictured with Mohamed, Russell

“I’m just trying to promote bikes. If you get on one of these things, it’s hard to get off. You ain’t finna get in no trouble. I’m not looking for no BS. Basically, I just want to see more people in my neighborhood rides dirt bikes and hopefully, get us a trail over here, one day. I don’t wanna keep riding on the streets and worrying about the police. Once you get on one of these, you’re not getting off.  This is definitely my passion. It started when I was six years old, when my grandma got me one of those small dirt bikes. When I saw the older kids with their bigger dirt bikes, I always wanted one. The older I got, I would spend my money and buy a bigger bike. I just bought this bike. I just lost a bike, last year, and broke my leg. My leg was broken and I bought another bike and I rode with a broken leg. This is my passion. Regardless, I’m going to ride a bike.  I’m not doing nothing else. It’s not like I’m out here, doing anything bad. The police look at us like we’re doing something bad but I’m not bothering nobody. You got cars with mufflers and all extra types of exhaust modifiers and stuff. I don’t come out late at night or very early in the morning; the afternoon is good for me. I don’t bother nobody, man.  I want everyone, around me, to ride because it’s boring doing it by yourself. I want to start my own garage and work on them. Once you get everybody on it, I’ll get you running for free but after that, throw me a little something and I’ll work on your bike. I want to get me a little garage. We don’t have nothing down here that will fix this. I gotta work on this by myself. There’s no where, around here, that I can take this bike to. There’s not one professional place for it. I gotta do it myself.  Find you a passion. If you find a passion, you’ll stay out of harm's way. If you find a passion, you’re gonna wanna do it all the time; it’s like an addiction. You’re not worried about nothing else going on around you. When I’m flying through these streets, I’m having fun. I’m not even looking at what’s going on around me. All I know is me on this bike, on this road.” - Jeff, California

“I’m just trying to promote bikes. If you get on one of these things, it’s hard to get off. You ain’t finna get in no trouble. I’m not looking for no BS. Basically, I just want to see more people in my neighborhood rides dirt bikes and hopefully, get us a trail over here, one day. I don’t wanna keep riding on the streets and worrying about the police. Once you get on one of these, you’re not getting off.

This is definitely my passion. It started when I was six years old, when my grandma got me one of those small dirt bikes. When I saw the older kids with their bigger dirt bikes, I always wanted one. The older I got, I would spend my money and buy a bigger bike. I just bought this bike. I just lost a bike, last year, and broke my leg. My leg was broken and I bought another bike and I rode with a broken leg. This is my passion. Regardless, I’m going to ride a bike.

I’m not doing nothing else. It’s not like I’m out here, doing anything bad. The police look at us like we’re doing something bad but I’m not bothering nobody. You got cars with mufflers and all extra types of exhaust modifiers and stuff. I don’t come out late at night or very early in the morning; the afternoon is good for me. I don’t bother nobody, man.

I want everyone, around me, to ride because it’s boring doing it by yourself. I want to start my own garage and work on them. Once you get everybody on it, I’ll get you running for free but after that, throw me a little something and I’ll work on your bike. I want to get me a little garage. We don’t have nothing down here that will fix this. I gotta work on this by myself. There’s no where, around here, that I can take this bike to. There’s not one professional place for it. I gotta do it myself.

Find you a passion. If you find a passion, you’ll stay out of harm's way. If you find a passion, you’re gonna wanna do it all the time; it’s like an addiction. You’re not worried about nothing else going on around you. When I’m flying through these streets, I’m having fun. I’m not even looking at what’s going on around me. All I know is me on this bike, on this road.” - Jeff, California

“I feel like everybody should familiarize themselves with mental health awareness. Often times, it’s looked at as a stigma. People want to put mental illness in this box but it affects more people than you know. I’ve had it happen to me. I didn’t know anything about it and then it was like, “Boom!” and then I had to play catch-up. I think it’s something that everyone should learn about because you never know when you’re forced to deal with it. It could be you, a sibling, family member, or anybody. It’s always good to have the knowledge instead of always trusting everything the doctor is telling you. Sometimes, doctors will tell you that your kids have this and need to be put on that. That’s not necessarily the case but when you’re more informed, you can listen to the doctor, knowing your child, and acknowledging that your child may suffer with mental illness or not. It’s better to be informed than to be ignorant. I think that’s how we get ourselves in a bind and caught up in the system because we’re unaware and not informed.  We should get familiar with it. A lot of times, it’s hereditary. If we’re out here having babies, you don’t know each other’s history and it can be genetic. If we don’t know the first thing about it, we’re not going to be thinking about genes and where mental illness comes from. We won’t worry about it until it’s too late. I think it’s important because if you do have a family member or somebody does have a mental illness, you want to be able to help them. You don’t want them to be out of sight, out of mind because that’s not fair and they can’t help it. When you’re informed, you can help people that may be challenged with mental illness. You can share that information.” - Ivory, (Right) California  “I feel like everyone should pay attention to mental health because there’s more cases than you know. I think that it gets overlooked. It’s just important to keep up with your mental health. It’s important for the black community to take it serious. I have bipolar depression and I had let it get out of hand. If I let it get out of hand, it’s hard to get control of. I feel like if the community, or anyone, is aware of their mental health, it’ll save them in the long run. It can be scary if you don’t get ahold of it. It’s kind of overwhelming once you get to the state of mania and trying to come back to normal. It’s just hard when it gets out of control. Being aware is very important.” - Erriona, (Left) California

“I feel like everybody should familiarize themselves with mental health awareness. Often times, it’s looked at as a stigma. People want to put mental illness in this box but it affects more people than you know. I’ve had it happen to me. I didn’t know anything about it and then it was like, “Boom!” and then I had to play catch-up. I think it’s something that everyone should learn about because you never know when you’re forced to deal with it. It could be you, a sibling, family member, or anybody. It’s always good to have the knowledge instead of always trusting everything the doctor is telling you. Sometimes, doctors will tell you that your kids have this and need to be put on that. That’s not necessarily the case but when you’re more informed, you can listen to the doctor, knowing your child, and acknowledging that your child may suffer with mental illness or not. It’s better to be informed than to be ignorant. I think that’s how we get ourselves in a bind and caught up in the system because we’re unaware and not informed.

We should get familiar with it. A lot of times, it’s hereditary. If we’re out here having babies, you don’t know each other’s history and it can be genetic. If we don’t know the first thing about it, we’re not going to be thinking about genes and where mental illness comes from. We won’t worry about it until it’s too late. I think it’s important because if you do have a family member or somebody does have a mental illness, you want to be able to help them. You don’t want them to be out of sight, out of mind because that’s not fair and they can’t help it. When you’re informed, you can help people that may be challenged with mental illness. You can share that information.” - Ivory, (Right) California

“I feel like everyone should pay attention to mental health because there’s more cases than you know. I think that it gets overlooked. It’s just important to keep up with your mental health. It’s important for the black community to take it serious. I have bipolar depression and I had let it get out of hand. If I let it get out of hand, it’s hard to get control of. I feel like if the community, or anyone, is aware of their mental health, it’ll save them in the long run. It can be scary if you don’t get ahold of it. It’s kind of overwhelming once you get to the state of mania and trying to come back to normal. It’s just hard when it gets out of control. Being aware is very important.” - Erriona, (Left) California


“I’ve been here for about fifteen years. I spent all of my childhood here, when I moved back from Delaware, with my dad. I stayed with my grandparents. We gotta house in J-Town but I went to school off Dixie Highway because that was close to where my dad worked. I used to catch the bus here from school. I spent all my summers here and everyday after school was spent here from 4th grade until I was a senior in high school. My best friend, at that time, used to live on Larkwood, by Shawnee Park. So, I used to either walk or catch the bus. We used to play basketball and I would walk or catch the bus right back.   I remember going to Consolidated, which is now a halfway house, on the corner of 15th and Jefferson. It was like the department store. I remember getting my shoe laces getting caught on the escalator at Sears, which was on 9th and Broadway. My grandfather used to get carpet from this carpet place that used to be the Big A Shopping Center on Bolling.   Me and my cousin, who is like my brother, these are the blocks that we ran. He grew up on 24th and Jefferson. This is where we were and this is what we did. We used to go to Dairy Del, Elliot Park to play ball and would run up all through here. I still keep in contact with a lot of people that I grew up in the neighborhood with. That’s changed quite a bit because it’s no where near as nice as it was when I was growing up. Even then, there was still a lot of older people here but you know, the houses and yards were maintained. It had that typical neighborhood vibe. For instance, if me and my cousin were doing something, at the end of the block, that we weren’t supposed to be doing, my grandfather would know about it by the time we got back. From the time we walked from one block to the next, my grandfather was like, “Come here!”. We already knew what was up, so we had to keep our noses clean because everybody knew Mr. Red. Everybody knew Mr. Red.   I’m forty-five years old and my grandfather passed six or seven years ago and I’m still known as Mr. Red’s grandson. Just like guys, that are my dad’s age, they’re in their seventies and all of their kids and their kids used to get their hair cut by my grandfather. So, he’s cut about three, almost four generations of hair. It’s not too many places that I can go where somebody doesn’t know me as Mr. Red’s grandson. Of course with being a staple in Russell and living here for sixty-plus years.  My granddad is my idol. He’s taught almost all of my life lessons like the importance of owning your own business. He taught me how to manage money. He always told us to pay ourselves first before we pay anybody else. Him and my grandmother used to always read the Bible close to us all the time. As a kid, I was like, “Man, squash that!”. Now, as an adult, it makes perfect sense. You know like, “A good name is better to be chosen than gold” is true and they constantly drilled that in us. We had to take piano lessons as we would read the Bible everyday. So everyday, after school, we would read a chapter from the Bible. My cousin and I would take turns reading chapter. I read the Bible, from cover to cover, about three or four times. When I first started reading it, I didn’t understand it because it was all of that old English. As I got further in middle and high school, I better understood. It’s just that discipline. It’s just that old school discipline. My grandfather was that old school disciplinary and we had our routine. If I was here, we know that every Tuesday we were going to the barber store and the candy store. HIs barber shop sold a lot of candy. That’s when we would go get candy and do all these other things.   It wasn’t until later in life, when I was talking to my grandfather and some of this friends, that I would understand some of the things that he would do. Like, he used to always order his shoes from books. I always wondered about that. He would never really go to shoe stores and pick them out. He would order them from these little catalogs that he used to get. I thought it was because he stood for a long time and just needed special barbering shoes. Come to find out, when my dad was younger, at that time, department stores on 4th Street wouldn't let black folks try on shoes or clothes. That made my grandfather furious. He decided not to patronize those places and would order his stuff from catalogs.   It was just those life lessons that are still with me today. You know, I went to church every Sunday. My grandfather was a deacon and in the choir. He was one of the toughest dudes I knew.  This is always home. Plus, I like the bricks. I lived in J-town and had a nice apartment. I call this the bricks. I like the urban feel. I always loved the urban feel. I like having the ability just to walk up the street and walk to places. I like it. I like the density and the older homes. When I go to places like Chicago and Baltimore, I like that urban feeling. It’s not for everybody and I get that but it’s not so cookie cutter. Everything is different.  I have a little apprehension about the new development. I’m positive but I’m apprehensive because I know how these things normally go down. I like to consider myself a closet historian and once you study Louisville’s history, especially Louisville’s race relations, you kind of see the same kind of patterns repeat themselves. You see the same kind of dog and pony shows and the dangling of the carrot. You know, like, if you do this, you may get this and nothing never happens. Or it does happen but it doesn’t happen to your or your community’s benefit. So, I stay guardedly optimistic but at the same time, you have to be engaged. One of the reasons that they are able to move the carrot and play Whack-a-Mole with you is because you’re not engaged. You’re not always there. Someone’s not watching and seeing what’s going on and calling people out and telling them what’s wrong and that they shouldn’t be doing certain things.  The community needs a mechanism to get back to where we can have your locally black owned businesses. Just like you have all of those shops, clubs, and businesses on Bardstown Road, Russell was the same way. It was exactly the same way. You had Old Walnut Street, Broadway and Market Street. You had those corridors of high economic activity and that’s what we need to get back to. It’s not so much of bringing back the big boxes but we need to focus more on that aspect.  The biggest thing is getting people who care about the neighborhood, to move back into the neighborhood and take that leap of faith. Now, a lot of people don’t want to because there’s not a lot in Russell. It’s like the chicken and the egg. Nobody wants to move back here because of the services but you can’t get the services without the people. Specifically, you can’t get the services without the income. What comes first? You have the Cedar Street development, that has the new homes. They’re trying to entice people to move back with those homes and that’s a good thing but you have a lot of these older homes. One good thing about these older homes is that the way that they are made, they are infinitely repairable. It just takes the elbow grease and the resources. I try to tell a lot of people that it doesn’t take that much money to do something like get the house  and repair it. You can get some of these houses for $5,000-$10,000 and take out a mortgage for $150,000 and you’ll have just as nice of a home like one in Old Louisville and you’ll do more with it. You’ll have your granite countertops and your stainless steel appliances. You would have a home that if you could pick it up and move it NuLu, you would have a $600,000 crib. If we can get more folks to move back in and take ownership of some of these properties, you would see a big change. It’s going to be an uphill struggle because the economy in Russell no longer exists with black folks in Louisville and that’s the biggest issue.   We had a lot of newly free blacks leaving the South and other parts of the Kentucky to come to Louisville because we had those jobs, like Philip Morris, Brown-Forman and tobacco warehouses. There were plenty of places for people to work. Then you had the L&N railroads. They had pullman porters back in the 20’s, 30’s and 50’s. Being a pullman porter was a big job and L&N was right there. You could walk to Union Station and go to work and come on back. There was a lot of that type of money being generated, which made it easier for guys like your A.D. Porter, Stiths and those guys to start businesses and have candy stores and things of that nature, to kind of generate that economic mercantile class that you need. It was that solid black middle class that you need to keep things going. Once Louisville’s manufacturing base started to leave. International Harvester closed and all the tobacco companies started to move away. L&N went under. Louisville changed from a manufacturer to more of a service economy. It took a lot of that wealth with it. Then you had urban renewal come in and it destroyed the last remaining of the strong black business districts. It was a one-two punch that was hard to recover from. It’s hard to get that back but you have to figure out a way to get that back and that is Louisville’s struggle. You know Louisville has a grant, right now, and they’re using that for Beecher Terrace. Louisville also has a Place of Promise grant, which seeks to revitalize Russell, without gentrification, and focuses on homeownership and getting jobs. The trick to it is that there is a lot of jobs in Russell but they don’t hire people from Russell. The jobs in Russell actually pay above the national and Kentucky average, as far as wages. They just don’t hire anybody from West Louisville and that’s a very big problem. Half the businesses here aren’t hiring anybody here. You’re still dealing with the racial inequalities and things of that nature.” - Haven, Russell 

“I’ve been here for about fifteen years. I spent all of my childhood here, when I moved back from Delaware, with my dad. I stayed with my grandparents. We gotta house in J-Town but I went to school off Dixie Highway because that was close to where my dad worked. I used to catch the bus here from school. I spent all my summers here and everyday after school was spent here from 4th grade until I was a senior in high school. My best friend, at that time, used to live on Larkwood, by Shawnee Park. So, I used to either walk or catch the bus. We used to play basketball and I would walk or catch the bus right back. 

I remember going to Consolidated, which is now a halfway house, on the corner of 15th and Jefferson. It was like the department store. I remember getting my shoe laces getting caught on the escalator at Sears, which was on 9th and Broadway. My grandfather used to get carpet from this carpet place that used to be the Big A Shopping Center on Bolling. 

Me and my cousin, who is like my brother, these are the blocks that we ran. He grew up on 24th and Jefferson. This is where we were and this is what we did. We used to go to Dairy Del, Elliot Park to play ball and would run up all through here. I still keep in contact with a lot of people that I grew up in the neighborhood with. That’s changed quite a bit because it’s no where near as nice as it was when I was growing up. Even then, there was still a lot of older people here but you know, the houses and yards were maintained. It had that typical neighborhood vibe. For instance, if me and my cousin were doing something, at the end of the block, that we weren’t supposed to be doing, my grandfather would know about it by the time we got back. From the time we walked from one block to the next, my grandfather was like, “Come here!”. We already knew what was up, so we had to keep our noses clean because everybody knew Mr. Red. Everybody knew Mr. Red. 

I’m forty-five years old and my grandfather passed six or seven years ago and I’m still known as Mr. Red’s grandson. Just like guys, that are my dad’s age, they’re in their seventies and all of their kids and their kids used to get their hair cut by my grandfather. So, he’s cut about three, almost four generations of hair. It’s not too many places that I can go where somebody doesn’t know me as Mr. Red’s grandson. Of course with being a staple in Russell and living here for sixty-plus years.

My granddad is my idol. He’s taught almost all of my life lessons like the importance of owning your own business. He taught me how to manage money. He always told us to pay ourselves first before we pay anybody else. Him and my grandmother used to always read the Bible close to us all the time. As a kid, I was like, “Man, squash that!”. Now, as an adult, it makes perfect sense. You know like, “A good name is better to be chosen than gold” is true and they constantly drilled that in us. We had to take piano lessons as we would read the Bible everyday. So everyday, after school, we would read a chapter from the Bible. My cousin and I would take turns reading chapter. I read the Bible, from cover to cover, about three or four times. When I first started reading it, I didn’t understand it because it was all of that old English. As I got further in middle and high school, I better understood. It’s just that discipline. It’s just that old school discipline. My grandfather was that old school disciplinary and we had our routine. If I was here, we know that every Tuesday we were going to the barber store and the candy store. HIs barber shop sold a lot of candy. That’s when we would go get candy and do all these other things. 

It wasn’t until later in life, when I was talking to my grandfather and some of this friends, that I would understand some of the things that he would do. Like, he used to always order his shoes from books. I always wondered about that. He would never really go to shoe stores and pick them out. He would order them from these little catalogs that he used to get. I thought it was because he stood for a long time and just needed special barbering shoes. Come to find out, when my dad was younger, at that time, department stores on 4th Street wouldn't let black folks try on shoes or clothes. That made my grandfather furious. He decided not to patronize those places and would order his stuff from catalogs. 

It was just those life lessons that are still with me today. You know, I went to church every Sunday. My grandfather was a deacon and in the choir. He was one of the toughest dudes I knew.

This is always home. Plus, I like the bricks. I lived in J-town and had a nice apartment. I call this the bricks. I like the urban feel. I always loved the urban feel. I like having the ability just to walk up the street and walk to places. I like it. I like the density and the older homes. When I go to places like Chicago and Baltimore, I like that urban feeling. It’s not for everybody and I get that but it’s not so cookie cutter. Everything is different.

I have a little apprehension about the new development. I’m positive but I’m apprehensive because I know how these things normally go down. I like to consider myself a closet historian and once you study Louisville’s history, especially Louisville’s race relations, you kind of see the same kind of patterns repeat themselves. You see the same kind of dog and pony shows and the dangling of the carrot. You know, like, if you do this, you may get this and nothing never happens. Or it does happen but it doesn’t happen to your or your community’s benefit. So, I stay guardedly optimistic but at the same time, you have to be engaged. One of the reasons that they are able to move the carrot and play Whack-a-Mole with you is because you’re not engaged. You’re not always there. Someone’s not watching and seeing what’s going on and calling people out and telling them what’s wrong and that they shouldn’t be doing certain things.

The community needs a mechanism to get back to where we can have your locally black owned businesses. Just like you have all of those shops, clubs, and businesses on Bardstown Road, Russell was the same way. It was exactly the same way. You had Old Walnut Street, Broadway and Market Street. You had those corridors of high economic activity and that’s what we need to get back to. It’s not so much of bringing back the big boxes but we need to focus more on that aspect.

The biggest thing is getting people who care about the neighborhood, to move back into the neighborhood and take that leap of faith. Now, a lot of people don’t want to because there’s not a lot in Russell. It’s like the chicken and the egg. Nobody wants to move back here because of the services but you can’t get the services without the people. Specifically, you can’t get the services without the income. What comes first? You have the Cedar Street development, that has the new homes. They’re trying to entice people to move back with those homes and that’s a good thing but you have a lot of these older homes. One good thing about these older homes is that the way that they are made, they are infinitely repairable. It just takes the elbow grease and the resources. I try to tell a lot of people that it doesn’t take that much money to do something like get the house  and repair it. You can get some of these houses for $5,000-$10,000 and take out a mortgage for $150,000 and you’ll have just as nice of a home like one in Old Louisville and you’ll do more with it. You’ll have your granite countertops and your stainless steel appliances. You would have a home that if you could pick it up and move it NuLu, you would have a $600,000 crib. If we can get more folks to move back in and take ownership of some of these properties, you would see a big change. It’s going to be an uphill struggle because the economy in Russell no longer exists with black folks in Louisville and that’s the biggest issue. 

We had a lot of newly free blacks leaving the South and other parts of the Kentucky to come to Louisville because we had those jobs, like Philip Morris, Brown-Forman and tobacco warehouses. There were plenty of places for people to work. Then you had the L&N railroads. They had pullman porters back in the 20’s, 30’s and 50’s. Being a pullman porter was a big job and L&N was right there. You could walk to Union Station and go to work and come on back. There was a lot of that type of money being generated, which made it easier for guys like your A.D. Porter, Stiths and those guys to start businesses and have candy stores and things of that nature, to kind of generate that economic mercantile class that you need. It was that solid black middle class that you need to keep things going. Once Louisville’s manufacturing base started to leave. International Harvester closed and all the tobacco companies started to move away. L&N went under. Louisville changed from a manufacturer to more of a service economy. It took a lot of that wealth with it. Then you had urban renewal come in and it destroyed the last remaining of the strong black business districts. It was a one-two punch that was hard to recover from. It’s hard to get that back but you have to figure out a way to get that back and that is Louisville’s struggle. You know Louisville has a grant, right now, and they’re using that for Beecher Terrace. Louisville also has a Place of Promise grant, which seeks to revitalize Russell, without gentrification, and focuses on homeownership and getting jobs. The trick to it is that there is a lot of jobs in Russell but they don’t hire people from Russell. The jobs in Russell actually pay above the national and Kentucky average, as far as wages. They just don’t hire anybody from West Louisville and that’s a very big problem. Half the businesses here aren’t hiring anybody here. You’re still dealing with the racial inequalities and things of that nature.” - Haven, Russell 

“I’ve been in the West End my whole life. I was born and raised here. We lived in California Square. When I was six or seven, we moved to 42nd. Yeah, I’ve been here my whole life.  Growing up in the West really ain’t as bad as people think it is. It depends on the people that you involve yourself around and the people in your household. It’s a lot deeper than just the streets. The streets don’t turn people into monsters, people turn people into monsters. It’s who they go look to find leadership in and who they feel like is giving them the most love at the time. It’s deeper than just your surroundings and where you live at. I feel like it’s the stuff on tv, the social media, the stuff that people are portraying is what’s the best. It’s making the youth turn into what they are. I feel like it’s a lot of different outlets that people could use if they really care. People say that they care about a person but don’t really feel the way that they say that they feel. They care more about what they could get out of the relationship instead of really helping a young person.  Ain’t nothing wrong with the streets of the West. I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong. I’ve lived here my whole life. My mom loves the West End. She’s been a respiratory therapist for twenty-something years. She’s retired now and doing really well and she still lives in the West. She enjoys being around the people that she’s around, not the streets.  I feel like they’re changing the streets but they’re not changing the streets. Just cause they’re putting down new pavement and putting up a YMCA, it’s not really going to be for the youth of the West End, you know, the people that they make look bad on the news. I feel like the government is putting everybody, that they feel like is a problem, in a certain situation anyway. If a person needs help, they’re going to put them around a lot of people, who also need help, which makes a lot of bad shit happen. Even with the projects, they put people who needs assistance in a certain area. That’s going to create problems in that area because everybody needs help. Everybody is trying to come up on something. Everybody’s trying to come up on some money. Everybody’s trying to figure out how they’re going to feed their kids. A lot of negative stuff happens when you put anyone’s back against the wall. That’s how I feel.  It’s more than just gentrification that’s happening. It’s not just happening in West Louisville, but around the world. It’s happening on a high level. They raise the prices, around here, on everything. They do that on purpose to make who’s down stay down. It’s not just black people in the West End now. You can ride down the street and see just as many white people as you do black people. They need help and when they go to the government for assistance, they’ll just put them down here. They’re hurting us and they’re doing it on purpose. The majority of Section 8 houses is in the West End of Louisville. There’s a small percentage of Section 8 houses in different areas of this city beside maybe Newburg. Nobody who is upper class is out in these areas, where the majority is black people.  Hell yeah, gentrification is going on. I don’t use that as a crutch nor do I think that anyone else should use it as a crutch, either. Like I said, when your back is against the wall, you’re gonna do whatever you gotta do to make your situation the best you can. So, even when the odds are against you, you can’t use that as a crutch or feel like you could have a bad life and just blame it on gentrification. Nah, you gotta change you. You gotta change what’s going on around you.  A lot of people aren’t as mentally strong as others but a lot of people are out here in these streets and those are the people who really need help, whether they fall victim to heroin, which is not only an epidemic. They’re giving people heroin. They give out heroin when someone breaks their leg and they have to take Perc-10’s. They’re giving them heroin when they break a leg and tell the people to take Lortab 5’s. Then once these people like how these narcotics like how they make them feel, they wonder if it gets better.  Then you got young teenagers out here, looking up to the wrong people and rap videos and dude that’s on the corner with the big rims on his car, that doesn’t work a job and hasn’t his whole life. They see that dude is getting his money real quick. That’s when them H players come into play and serve them a pill and put them back in the West End. One of them lil kids will serve him. Lock him up and he’ll tell on one of them. It’s a cycle. They keep that shit going. It’s deep.  The people that they continue to place in the West End will continue with the cycle. I really feel like it’ll continue because people with weak minds do weak things. It’s going to keep going down until they take the West End back. They’ll eventually take it back because of the location and that’s what they’re working on doing now by changing the streets. That’s why I said that they are changing the streets but not the streets. If they wanted to change the streets, they would have added a Boys & Girls Club or put $100,000 in renovation in this Boys & Girls Club around the corner. They could have the local rap musicians come to these places and show these kids that, “Just because I rap, it doesn’t make me a bad guy. Just because I say I do this, it doesn’t mean I’m out here really doing this, G.” A lot of people don’t know that the Migos went to college. Them dudes ain’t no trappers. They really not out here in these streets but yet that’s the type of music that they really want our kids to listen to because if they hear it, they’ll do it. They know that.  I feel like the West End would be doing so much better if the people came together. The only time we come together is when the police is beating up on us and that’s because we’re sick of that shit. That shit’s been going on forever and we’re sick of that shit. Other than that, they not coming together saying that nobody is down here in the Boys & Girls Club, reading books to the kids. Ain’t nobody down here, standing on corners, making sure that people got food in their house. When it’s freezing outside, they ain’t opening up a building, talking about anybody can come down here if they need a place to stay. They’re not doing any of that but they’re changing streets.” - Terrance, Parkland

“I’ve been in the West End my whole life. I was born and raised here. We lived in California Square. When I was six or seven, we moved to 42nd. Yeah, I’ve been here my whole life.

Growing up in the West really ain’t as bad as people think it is. It depends on the people that you involve yourself around and the people in your household. It’s a lot deeper than just the streets. The streets don’t turn people into monsters, people turn people into monsters. It’s who they go look to find leadership in and who they feel like is giving them the most love at the time. It’s deeper than just your surroundings and where you live at. I feel like it’s the stuff on tv, the social media, the stuff that people are portraying is what’s the best. It’s making the youth turn into what they are. I feel like it’s a lot of different outlets that people could use if they really care. People say that they care about a person but don’t really feel the way that they say that they feel. They care more about what they could get out of the relationship instead of really helping a young person.

Ain’t nothing wrong with the streets of the West. I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong. I’ve lived here my whole life. My mom loves the West End. She’s been a respiratory therapist for twenty-something years. She’s retired now and doing really well and she still lives in the West. She enjoys being around the people that she’s around, not the streets.

I feel like they’re changing the streets but they’re not changing the streets. Just cause they’re putting down new pavement and putting up a YMCA, it’s not really going to be for the youth of the West End, you know, the people that they make look bad on the news. I feel like the government is putting everybody, that they feel like is a problem, in a certain situation anyway. If a person needs help, they’re going to put them around a lot of people, who also need help, which makes a lot of bad shit happen. Even with the projects, they put people who needs assistance in a certain area. That’s going to create problems in that area because everybody needs help. Everybody is trying to come up on something. Everybody’s trying to come up on some money. Everybody’s trying to figure out how they’re going to feed their kids. A lot of negative stuff happens when you put anyone’s back against the wall. That’s how I feel.

It’s more than just gentrification that’s happening. It’s not just happening in West Louisville, but around the world. It’s happening on a high level. They raise the prices, around here, on everything. They do that on purpose to make who’s down stay down. It’s not just black people in the West End now. You can ride down the street and see just as many white people as you do black people. They need help and when they go to the government for assistance, they’ll just put them down here. They’re hurting us and they’re doing it on purpose. The majority of Section 8 houses is in the West End of Louisville. There’s a small percentage of Section 8 houses in different areas of this city beside maybe Newburg. Nobody who is upper class is out in these areas, where the majority is black people.

Hell yeah, gentrification is going on. I don’t use that as a crutch nor do I think that anyone else should use it as a crutch, either. Like I said, when your back is against the wall, you’re gonna do whatever you gotta do to make your situation the best you can. So, even when the odds are against you, you can’t use that as a crutch or feel like you could have a bad life and just blame it on gentrification. Nah, you gotta change you. You gotta change what’s going on around you.

A lot of people aren’t as mentally strong as others but a lot of people are out here in these streets and those are the people who really need help, whether they fall victim to heroin, which is not only an epidemic. They’re giving people heroin. They give out heroin when someone breaks their leg and they have to take Perc-10’s. They’re giving them heroin when they break a leg and tell the people to take Lortab 5’s. Then once these people like how these narcotics like how they make them feel, they wonder if it gets better.

Then you got young teenagers out here, looking up to the wrong people and rap videos and dude that’s on the corner with the big rims on his car, that doesn’t work a job and hasn’t his whole life. They see that dude is getting his money real quick. That’s when them H players come into play and serve them a pill and put them back in the West End. One of them lil kids will serve him. Lock him up and he’ll tell on one of them. It’s a cycle. They keep that shit going. It’s deep.

The people that they continue to place in the West End will continue with the cycle. I really feel like it’ll continue because people with weak minds do weak things. It’s going to keep going down until they take the West End back. They’ll eventually take it back because of the location and that’s what they’re working on doing now by changing the streets. That’s why I said that they are changing the streets but not the streets. If they wanted to change the streets, they would have added a Boys & Girls Club or put $100,000 in renovation in this Boys & Girls Club around the corner. They could have the local rap musicians come to these places and show these kids that, “Just because I rap, it doesn’t make me a bad guy. Just because I say I do this, it doesn’t mean I’m out here really doing this, G.” A lot of people don’t know that the Migos went to college. Them dudes ain’t no trappers. They really not out here in these streets but yet that’s the type of music that they really want our kids to listen to because if they hear it, they’ll do it. They know that.

I feel like the West End would be doing so much better if the people came together. The only time we come together is when the police is beating up on us and that’s because we’re sick of that shit. That shit’s been going on forever and we’re sick of that shit. Other than that, they not coming together saying that nobody is down here in the Boys & Girls Club, reading books to the kids. Ain’t nobody down here, standing on corners, making sure that people got food in their house. When it’s freezing outside, they ain’t opening up a building, talking about anybody can come down here if they need a place to stay. They’re not doing any of that but they’re changing streets.” - Terrance, Parkland

“I’ve been in Beecher since 2012. My experience has been up and down. I almost lost my place about four or five times. Utilities have been cut off and I haven’t had food sometimes. I’ve been stressed and depressed. I had to get over those humps. I lost my kids in 2008. I’ve been trying to get them back and getting everything in order to get them back. I’m just trying to do what I need to do to succeed and get them back. This was supposed to get me up and it’s here. Everything is coming about. The only thing that I can say is that it was a tragedy at first, but now it’s triumph. I’m glad to be where I’m at and to be able to move. I’m glad to show people that even though I got my kids taken, I can still make a turnabout. I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to do because God’s got it.   In 2008, I ended up losing my kids because of a guy, who I thought really loved me and he didn’t. I turned around and messed up. He started abusing me. I thought it was love and it wasn’t. I ended up having to get myself over that. It took me about two or three years but I got over it. I lost my apartment. I was in New Direction housing and ended up losing my apartment. I ended up being in the streets for about three or four years and then I got here in 2012. I’ve been here and have been holding it down. It’s been rocky because of the different bills that they say we have to pay extra for. We still get the help that we gotta get but sometimes it’s hard, it really is. Not only that, I’m on disability and I don’t want to be on it anymore. My master’s degree is getting ready to make me money. It’s a blessing. With that, God’s been doing everything for me by opening up so many doors. I got into hair school and I’m getting ready to graduate. I’m getting ready to move and it triumph and I got my foot in the door. It’s time to shine and show and prove that I’m still here and I still got this. I’m here and I made it. I didn’t fall.   What kept me motivated? Sometimes, I talked to my kids. I really did. I found out my son graduated and he’s going to the navy. My daughter, she sings for the St. Stephens. My other daughter sings in her elementary choir. My sister works for corrections and helps and supports me. That’s all I can say. I am a champion and that’s all that matter.   I think the new development in Beecher Terrace is going to be okay. As long as they’re going to be here and help us by showing us new opportunities and showing people that don’t know what’s going on. They’ve been showing us a lot. They just told us that we can get home ownership through the Urban League, so that’s what I plan on doing. I plan on going with the Urban League, so I can get a house. I plan on holding down my place. Not only that, I want to open up my own salon and come back and give back to my community. I wanna give back to the same community who helped and supported me by telling me that they weren’t going to let me fall and that they were going to be here with me. Ms. Ebony, Ms. Kathy and Ms. Wendy helped and supported me. They did everything they needed to do for me. They helped keep me from losing my place. Sometimes, I didn’t have money because I had to spend it on food, I had to go over there and tell them that I didn’t have it. They helped me, no matter what, to prove that they weren’t gong to let anybody fall. That’s what kept me going and happy and excited for the opportunities that’s coming.   Don’t give up on hope, faith and God. When you think that you need to throw in the towel, you don’t need to. There’s still another door that’s right there and will open, even when you see everything closed. There’s still a door that’s like, “I’m here and I got you. I’m going to make sure that you’re going to survive and succeed.” That’s motivation!” - Elizabeth, Russell 

“I’ve been in Beecher since 2012. My experience has been up and down. I almost lost my place about four or five times. Utilities have been cut off and I haven’t had food sometimes. I’ve been stressed and depressed. I had to get over those humps. I lost my kids in 2008. I’ve been trying to get them back and getting everything in order to get them back. I’m just trying to do what I need to do to succeed and get them back. This was supposed to get me up and it’s here. Everything is coming about. The only thing that I can say is that it was a tragedy at first, but now it’s triumph. I’m glad to be where I’m at and to be able to move. I’m glad to show people that even though I got my kids taken, I can still make a turnabout. I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to do because God’s got it. 

In 2008, I ended up losing my kids because of a guy, who I thought really loved me and he didn’t. I turned around and messed up. He started abusing me. I thought it was love and it wasn’t. I ended up having to get myself over that. It took me about two or three years but I got over it. I lost my apartment. I was in New Direction housing and ended up losing my apartment. I ended up being in the streets for about three or four years and then I got here in 2012. I’ve been here and have been holding it down. It’s been rocky because of the different bills that they say we have to pay extra for. We still get the help that we gotta get but sometimes it’s hard, it really is. Not only that, I’m on disability and I don’t want to be on it anymore. My master’s degree is getting ready to make me money. It’s a blessing. With that, God’s been doing everything for me by opening up so many doors. I got into hair school and I’m getting ready to graduate. I’m getting ready to move and it triumph and I got my foot in the door. It’s time to shine and show and prove that I’m still here and I still got this. I’m here and I made it. I didn’t fall. 

What kept me motivated? Sometimes, I talked to my kids. I really did. I found out my son graduated and he’s going to the navy. My daughter, she sings for the St. Stephens. My other daughter sings in her elementary choir. My sister works for corrections and helps and supports me. That’s all I can say. I am a champion and that’s all that matter. 

I think the new development in Beecher Terrace is going to be okay. As long as they’re going to be here and help us by showing us new opportunities and showing people that don’t know what’s going on. They’ve been showing us a lot. They just told us that we can get home ownership through the Urban League, so that’s what I plan on doing. I plan on going with the Urban League, so I can get a house. I plan on holding down my place. Not only that, I want to open up my own salon and come back and give back to my community. I wanna give back to the same community who helped and supported me by telling me that they weren’t going to let me fall and that they were going to be here with me. Ms. Ebony, Ms. Kathy and Ms. Wendy helped and supported me. They did everything they needed to do for me. They helped keep me from losing my place. Sometimes, I didn’t have money because I had to spend it on food, I had to go over there and tell them that I didn’t have it. They helped me, no matter what, to prove that they weren’t gong to let anybody fall. That’s what kept me going and happy and excited for the opportunities that’s coming. 

Don’t give up on hope, faith and God. When you think that you need to throw in the towel, you don’t need to. There’s still another door that’s right there and will open, even when you see everything closed. There’s still a door that’s like, “I’m here and I got you. I’m going to make sure that you’re going to survive and succeed.” That’s motivation!” - Elizabeth, Russell