Stories

“We’ve been together for about a year and a half. It started with me getting a job at Lowe’s. When you go to Lowe’s, they give you this tour of the building. When we went back to receiving, which is where she was working, I saw her. I don’t know what it was but she caught my eye. She’s beautiful. I thought to myself to try it out. I went in and told her my name and she told me hers and after that it was goodbyes. Three weeks after that, I chased her. We met up with each other and then from that point on we went to Chic-Fil-A every morning and that’s when I knew that I was going to make this woman my wife. No female out here has done for me what she’s done. We got to eat breakfast together every morning and get to know each other, instead of jumping into other things. That’s what most men do out here, is just jumping into things. If you can, get a woman that understands you and gets to know you like the back of her hand. I’m not afraid to say it because that’s what love is. It’s getting to know each other.  I’m not gonna lie, but I took off work to spend time with her. We don’t get to spend that much quality time together. We work Monday through Friday and we work with contractors on the weekends. The feeling I get when I’m around is a sense of security. I feel protected, knowing that I have a woman who is on my level. That’s a lovely thing and that’s a team you’re not going to stop. We just have a bond and I love it.” - Nick, California  “I saw him and I was thinking that he was a very cute guy. I swear he was stalking me! I watched him follow me to receiving and that’s when we got to know each other. I just thought that he was so cute. We worked two different shifts - he worked first and I worked third. He would catch the first bus out there just to see me before I got off. He did that for three weeks. I knew that the next time that I would see him, that I would have to give him my phone number. That’s what happened and we’ve been inseparable ever since. We didn’t and won’t give up on each other.” - Shinica, California

“We’ve been together for about a year and a half. It started with me getting a job at Lowe’s. When you go to Lowe’s, they give you this tour of the building. When we went back to receiving, which is where she was working, I saw her. I don’t know what it was but she caught my eye. She’s beautiful. I thought to myself to try it out. I went in and told her my name and she told me hers and after that it was goodbyes. Three weeks after that, I chased her. We met up with each other and then from that point on we went to Chic-Fil-A every morning and that’s when I knew that I was going to make this woman my wife. No female out here has done for me what she’s done. We got to eat breakfast together every morning and get to know each other, instead of jumping into other things. That’s what most men do out here, is just jumping into things. If you can, get a woman that understands you and gets to know you like the back of her hand. I’m not afraid to say it because that’s what love is. It’s getting to know each other.

I’m not gonna lie, but I took off work to spend time with her. We don’t get to spend that much quality time together. We work Monday through Friday and we work with contractors on the weekends. The feeling I get when I’m around is a sense of security. I feel protected, knowing that I have a woman who is on my level. That’s a lovely thing and that’s a team you’re not going to stop. We just have a bond and I love it.” - Nick, California

“I saw him and I was thinking that he was a very cute guy. I swear he was stalking me! I watched him follow me to receiving and that’s when we got to know each other. I just thought that he was so cute. We worked two different shifts - he worked first and I worked third. He would catch the first bus out there just to see me before I got off. He did that for three weeks. I knew that the next time that I would see him, that I would have to give him my phone number. That’s what happened and we’ve been inseparable ever since. We didn’t and won’t give up on each other.” - Shinica, California

“I’ve been living in the West End for six years. I came from Valley Station. It’s been hard; the violence gets to you. My brother just got killed two months ago, changing his tire. The community is very hard to bring together.  The case is still unsolved and the dudes are walking around doing the same thing. His birthday was just two days ago. He had a baby and he was only 7-months at the time. It’s just hard. He was a good person. He really wanted us to get out. He reached out to groups to help him get out of the lifestyle he was in. It was just too late.  I’m eighteen and I wanna accomplish everything. I’m going for everything in this life. I got so much more to get out of it. That’s why I’m sitting right, walking my son to the doctor without anyone in my corner. I have myself and I want so much more out of life and that’s what I’m going to get.  Next month, I’m going to nail tech school. I’m starting a little business. Other than that, I’m just trying to make it. I wanna help other people. I wanted to do something, this summer, about this violence. It’s just hard to do that when people aren’t on the same page and won’t come together and be positive.  My grandmother is the most influential person in my life. I should’ve ran with everything that she told me. You’re supposed to listen to your elders cause they’re not going to tell you wrong. If I would’ve listened to my grandmother, I wouldn’t be in the position that I’m in now.  I would be so much further in life. I would have been more focused and not falling into the statistics and waiting for public assistance. I would have been working harder and my brother would’ve never got killed. He used to talk about us getting out of here and doing better. I blame myself for where I’m at right now.  When my brother was murdered, we didn’t have anybody. He didn’t have any life insurance. We had to come up with the money and wait three weeks. He didn’t get the proper burial. He’s at Green Meadows and we’re trying to put the money together for his headstone. We just went to go see him and really don’t know where he’s really located. There’s so many bodies that they’re laying close together because there are so many murders.  My son and my nephew keep me going. It keeps me going all the way. I wanted to give up plenty of times but I can’t because I have them looking up to me. That’s the only thing that keeps me going every single day.  Don’t rush anything. Don’t force anything. Go with life and don’t let anything stop you. Never give up and keep on going. Don’t think that you have too much on you because there’s always another person who is dealing with more. Keep on going.” - Corriah w/ her son Jordan, Park DuValle

“I’ve been living in the West End for six years. I came from Valley Station. It’s been hard; the violence gets to you. My brother just got killed two months ago, changing his tire. The community is very hard to bring together.

The case is still unsolved and the dudes are walking around doing the same thing. His birthday was just two days ago. He had a baby and he was only 7-months at the time. It’s just hard. He was a good person. He really wanted us to get out. He reached out to groups to help him get out of the lifestyle he was in. It was just too late.

I’m eighteen and I wanna accomplish everything. I’m going for everything in this life. I got so much more to get out of it. That’s why I’m sitting right, walking my son to the doctor without anyone in my corner. I have myself and I want so much more out of life and that’s what I’m going to get.

Next month, I’m going to nail tech school. I’m starting a little business. Other than that, I’m just trying to make it. I wanna help other people. I wanted to do something, this summer, about this violence. It’s just hard to do that when people aren’t on the same page and won’t come together and be positive.

My grandmother is the most influential person in my life. I should’ve ran with everything that she told me. You’re supposed to listen to your elders cause they’re not going to tell you wrong. If I would’ve listened to my grandmother, I wouldn’t be in the position that I’m in now.

I would be so much further in life. I would have been more focused and not falling into the statistics and waiting for public assistance. I would have been working harder and my brother would’ve never got killed. He used to talk about us getting out of here and doing better. I blame myself for where I’m at right now.

When my brother was murdered, we didn’t have anybody. He didn’t have any life insurance. We had to come up with the money and wait three weeks. He didn’t get the proper burial. He’s at Green Meadows and we’re trying to put the money together for his headstone. We just went to go see him and really don’t know where he’s really located. There’s so many bodies that they’re laying close together because there are so many murders.

My son and my nephew keep me going. It keeps me going all the way. I wanted to give up plenty of times but I can’t because I have them looking up to me. That’s the only thing that keeps me going every single day.

Don’t rush anything. Don’t force anything. Go with life and don’t let anything stop you. Never give up and keep on going. Don’t think that you have too much on you because there’s always another person who is dealing with more. Keep on going.” - Corriah w/ her son Jordan, Park DuValle

“My first experience with the Dirt Bowl was with “Get Buckets”, like five or six years ago. Then I went to “Stamped Up”, then I went to “4100” for a couple of years. I went to “Redemption” and now, I’m at “Park Hill”. I’m from Park Hill. I could’ve played with “Redemption” this year but Park Hill’s my heart and soul. That’s where I grew up and I can’t tell them no.  The Dirt Bowl keeps me out the way. I look forward to playing my games. I look forward to Cornell and Ravon talk shit. It’s actually a good outlet to let out stress. I don’t do drugs or anything like that, I love to play basketball. I love seeing my friends, that I grew up with, out here.  It’s more than gun violence and stuff out here. This is a beautiful thing. The police have been on it and people feel safe. They’re even walking people to their car if they need it. I just hope that they keep it going and it won’t be any foolishness.  I’m kinda mad that I wasn’t born fifty years ago, when it first started. I know it was dope. I’m a sucka for finding out what was before me and I respect what was before me. Like, I see the highlights from back in the day and I’m wishing that I was in that era. I got an old soul. I’m sure the competition is weaker now than it was back then.  I’d love to continue the legacy. When my son gets older, I want him to play in the Dirt Bowl. Even if he gets offers from division one schools, I still want him to experience the Dirt Bowl. You can have so many local supporters and you gotta get your city behind you before everybody else. This is a nice way to get your city behind you and get your name out there. It’s not just for the hood but the whole city. Wherever I go, everybody knows Polo and I support everybody. I’m a fan of basketball and these are my friends. We hoop every day together.” - Polo, Shawnee

“My first experience with the Dirt Bowl was with “Get Buckets”, like five or six years ago. Then I went to “Stamped Up”, then I went to “4100” for a couple of years. I went to “Redemption” and now, I’m at “Park Hill”. I’m from Park Hill. I could’ve played with “Redemption” this year but Park Hill’s my heart and soul. That’s where I grew up and I can’t tell them no.

The Dirt Bowl keeps me out the way. I look forward to playing my games. I look forward to Cornell and Ravon talk shit. It’s actually a good outlet to let out stress. I don’t do drugs or anything like that, I love to play basketball. I love seeing my friends, that I grew up with, out here.

It’s more than gun violence and stuff out here. This is a beautiful thing. The police have been on it and people feel safe. They’re even walking people to their car if they need it. I just hope that they keep it going and it won’t be any foolishness.

I’m kinda mad that I wasn’t born fifty years ago, when it first started. I know it was dope. I’m a sucka for finding out what was before me and I respect what was before me. Like, I see the highlights from back in the day and I’m wishing that I was in that era. I got an old soul. I’m sure the competition is weaker now than it was back then.

I’d love to continue the legacy. When my son gets older, I want him to play in the Dirt Bowl. Even if he gets offers from division one schools, I still want him to experience the Dirt Bowl. You can have so many local supporters and you gotta get your city behind you before everybody else. This is a nice way to get your city behind you and get your name out there. It’s not just for the hood but the whole city. Wherever I go, everybody knows Polo and I support everybody. I’m a fan of basketball and these are my friends. We hoop every day together.” - Polo, Shawnee

“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