Stories

 “My life has been rough. Shit, I got stabbed in my knee when I was ten. They stood over me when I was ten. I was just trying to be grown. I jumped off the porch and started fuckin with the older dudes. When I started fucking with them, I started doing older shit. That’s about it. I done been through a lot.  I’m trying to find something. Plus, I rap. I want to do that and have a clothing company. I’m trying to get some money, so I can buy the whole hood. I want us to own more of these houses. You got people coming down here and wanting to take over. They don’t even want us out there.  I feel like we, as blacks, already gotta strike. People just want us to do something bad and when you mess up once, that fucks up everything. That don’t mean we’re bad people, it’s just that when we do that one little thing, everyone else thinks we’re the devil. We don’t get second chances. They on our ass. The money’s low down here and people feel like they gotta trap. People got charges and shit and can’t get a job. You gotta come out here and get it. Don’t nobody wanna be broke.  Why can’t everyone succeed? It’s people, that only have straight histories, that come up. There’s a lot of good people, that I know, that have bad histories.They’re good people and with a past.  Man, stay in school. When you’re in school, they love you. Stay in school and stay out the streets. Ain’t shit goin’ on out here, for real. That’s what I be trying to tell kids. I done been through all this shit. Ain’t nothin’ going on.” - Mikey, Chickasaw

“My life has been rough. Shit, I got stabbed in my knee when I was ten. They stood over me when I was ten. I was just trying to be grown. I jumped off the porch and started fuckin with the older dudes. When I started fucking with them, I started doing older shit. That’s about it. I done been through a lot.

I’m trying to find something. Plus, I rap. I want to do that and have a clothing company. I’m trying to get some money, so I can buy the whole hood. I want us to own more of these houses. You got people coming down here and wanting to take over. They don’t even want us out there.

I feel like we, as blacks, already gotta strike. People just want us to do something bad and when you mess up once, that fucks up everything. That don’t mean we’re bad people, it’s just that when we do that one little thing, everyone else thinks we’re the devil. We don’t get second chances. They on our ass. The money’s low down here and people feel like they gotta trap. People got charges and shit and can’t get a job. You gotta come out here and get it. Don’t nobody wanna be broke.

Why can’t everyone succeed? It’s people, that only have straight histories, that come up. There’s a lot of good people, that I know, that have bad histories.They’re good people and with a past.

Man, stay in school. When you’re in school, they love you. Stay in school and stay out the streets. Ain’t shit goin’ on out here, for real. That’s what I be trying to tell kids. I done been through all this shit. Ain’t nothin’ going on.” - Mikey, Chickasaw

 “I love poetry. I love to write and that’s why I carry my laptop everywhere. I do nothing but write my raw thoughts all day. My passion is poetry. It’s like music without the instruments. I love it. I found that passion when I was fifteen, I’m twenty-three, now. I wasn’t out here in these streets, so I had to find a way to express myself. Instead of being out here, doing dumb shit, I decided to pick up a pen. I want to be able to talk about the subjects that people are afraid to talk about.  Being out on my own has been a struggle. I’m out here on my own, with nobody. I feel like nobody really is supporting my craft. At the end of the day, if nobody is supporting you, your passion will get you there. You got yourself. I have me and that’s all.  Do what you love, no matter what. If money never existed, what would you be doing?” - Kendrick, Russell

“I love poetry. I love to write and that’s why I carry my laptop everywhere. I do nothing but write my raw thoughts all day. My passion is poetry. It’s like music without the instruments. I love it. I found that passion when I was fifteen, I’m twenty-three, now. I wasn’t out here in these streets, so I had to find a way to express myself. Instead of being out here, doing dumb shit, I decided to pick up a pen. I want to be able to talk about the subjects that people are afraid to talk about.

Being out on my own has been a struggle. I’m out here on my own, with nobody. I feel like nobody really is supporting my craft. At the end of the day, if nobody is supporting you, your passion will get you there. You got yourself. I have me and that’s all.

Do what you love, no matter what. If money never existed, what would you be doing?” - Kendrick, Russell

 “Going to jail and going to through the criminal justice system changed my life. How unfair it was definitely made me look at how I needed to change my life, so that I would never go through this system again. I want to make it so that the people in my family will never have to experience this. I want to be a better example for young men and my future sons. What I went through was a really bad experience.   I was eighteen years old and I was arrested for assault on a police officer. I was in Walmart with my younger brother and he had picked up an open box of Pop-Its and when we walked outside of the store, one of the security guards grabbed my brother and he didn’t announce himself as a police officer. You know, naturally, when someone grabs your family like that, you defend your family. The charges were eventually dropped but I ended up getting theft by unlawful taking. The fact that I was still charged with assault on a police officer, even though I didn’t assault a police officer or did he announce himself as such, really changed my perspective on law and justice.  Now, my mission is to better the community. I want to teach these young black men, in what they try to label as the ghetto, the better way. I want to tell them my testimony and show them a better way to live. There is a better way to live instead of selling drugs and gang banging. It’s not cool because at the end of the day, you’ll get caught up in the system. They want you to get caught up. The system was built for black men and for us to destroy ourselves. So, if we are in our communities encouraging our kids to sell drugs and join these gangs, we’re encouraging them to go to prison and be slaves for the rest of their lives. That’s pretty much what's going on in America.   My advice to the world? Man, love all people and go back to the ways of God. We’re losing God’s principles, so if we get back to that, we’ll be good. No man above the next man. As long as we do that, our country will thrive but if not, we’ll continue to fail.” - Tyrell, California

“Going to jail and going to through the criminal justice system changed my life. How unfair it was definitely made me look at how I needed to change my life, so that I would never go through this system again. I want to make it so that the people in my family will never have to experience this. I want to be a better example for young men and my future sons. What I went through was a really bad experience. 

I was eighteen years old and I was arrested for assault on a police officer. I was in Walmart with my younger brother and he had picked up an open box of Pop-Its and when we walked outside of the store, one of the security guards grabbed my brother and he didn’t announce himself as a police officer. You know, naturally, when someone grabs your family like that, you defend your family. The charges were eventually dropped but I ended up getting theft by unlawful taking. The fact that I was still charged with assault on a police officer, even though I didn’t assault a police officer or did he announce himself as such, really changed my perspective on law and justice.

Now, my mission is to better the community. I want to teach these young black men, in what they try to label as the ghetto, the better way. I want to tell them my testimony and show them a better way to live. There is a better way to live instead of selling drugs and gang banging. It’s not cool because at the end of the day, you’ll get caught up in the system. They want you to get caught up. The system was built for black men and for us to destroy ourselves. So, if we are in our communities encouraging our kids to sell drugs and join these gangs, we’re encouraging them to go to prison and be slaves for the rest of their lives. That’s pretty much what's going on in America. 

My advice to the world? Man, love all people and go back to the ways of God. We’re losing God’s principles, so if we get back to that, we’ll be good. No man above the next man. As long as we do that, our country will thrive but if not, we’ll continue to fail.” - Tyrell, California

 “When I had my son, it was a happy moment and it was a wake up call. I realized that I had to teach this young man that he can do anything that he sets his mind to and be independent and not to rely on anyone to take care of him. Knowing that I had the responsibility of taking care of him was motivation to me. I was a young mom. I wasn’t eighteen, yet. I had to have the motivation to finish school and go to college. I went to college and still went to hair school, while I was raising this baby. I had to show him that if you start something, you have to finish it. Having him was a lot for me. I had to stay focused because I knew that he was watching.  Being a young mom can be very scary. I had gestational diabetes with my son and I had to eat healthier and give myself shots. It was bothering his heart rate. As a young mother, it was a lot and I was still in school. It was one of those moments where I couldn’t stop and had to keep going, so that I could have a healthy baby. He’s nineteen and at Tennessee State University, now. He’s doing very well and independent. Him watching me raise him and making sure that he was good, taught him so much.  In 2013, I lost my sister. My sister and I were always close. Growing up, my mother would dress us alike. She passed away from a car accident, so it was sudden. It’s the worst because we were caught off guard with it. When you go through something like that, it makes you want to give up but you have to think about what your loved one would’ve wanted. Doing hair and owning a business is something that she would've wanted me to do. She wanted me to continue to do what I love and not to give up. She did hair, too. It made me go at it stronger and stick with it.   You deal with those things but life goes on. There’s people out here that have goals and dreams and they need to know that regardless of what life throws at your way, you can still follow your passion. You’re still going to have obstacles but it’s all about how you come out. You have to hold on to the good memories. That’s how I move forward. You just have to think about the good times and be grateful for the close relationships you have with the people that you love. It makes things better because life happens.  Always have faith and never give up. We’ll always have our times but you have to come out with your head held up. Have a positive attitude and don’t let situations shake your faith. You have to come out stronger. If you get down, it’s hard to come out but you have to hold on to the positive things. Continue to show love to your loved ones that are still here. Don’t focus on holding grudges. You have to create those bonds.  My strength comes from God. It has to be God. I wouldn’t even give anyone that responsibility to give me that strength. My family and my boyfriend, who is my son’s father, are a great support system. They are my backbone. We just try to stick together.” - Tomira, co-owner of Trend Setters Hair & Nail Salon in Russell

“When I had my son, it was a happy moment and it was a wake up call. I realized that I had to teach this young man that he can do anything that he sets his mind to and be independent and not to rely on anyone to take care of him. Knowing that I had the responsibility of taking care of him was motivation to me. I was a young mom. I wasn’t eighteen, yet. I had to have the motivation to finish school and go to college. I went to college and still went to hair school, while I was raising this baby. I had to show him that if you start something, you have to finish it. Having him was a lot for me. I had to stay focused because I knew that he was watching.

Being a young mom can be very scary. I had gestational diabetes with my son and I had to eat healthier and give myself shots. It was bothering his heart rate. As a young mother, it was a lot and I was still in school. It was one of those moments where I couldn’t stop and had to keep going, so that I could have a healthy baby. He’s nineteen and at Tennessee State University, now. He’s doing very well and independent. Him watching me raise him and making sure that he was good, taught him so much.

In 2013, I lost my sister. My sister and I were always close. Growing up, my mother would dress us alike. She passed away from a car accident, so it was sudden. It’s the worst because we were caught off guard with it. When you go through something like that, it makes you want to give up but you have to think about what your loved one would’ve wanted. Doing hair and owning a business is something that she would've wanted me to do. She wanted me to continue to do what I love and not to give up. She did hair, too. It made me go at it stronger and stick with it. 

You deal with those things but life goes on. There’s people out here that have goals and dreams and they need to know that regardless of what life throws at your way, you can still follow your passion. You’re still going to have obstacles but it’s all about how you come out. You have to hold on to the good memories. That’s how I move forward. You just have to think about the good times and be grateful for the close relationships you have with the people that you love. It makes things better because life happens.

Always have faith and never give up. We’ll always have our times but you have to come out with your head held up. Have a positive attitude and don’t let situations shake your faith. You have to come out stronger. If you get down, it’s hard to come out but you have to hold on to the positive things. Continue to show love to your loved ones that are still here. Don’t focus on holding grudges. You have to create those bonds.

My strength comes from God. It has to be God. I wouldn’t even give anyone that responsibility to give me that strength. My family and my boyfriend, who is my son’s father, are a great support system. They are my backbone. We just try to stick together.” - Tomira, co-owner of Trend Setters Hair & Nail Salon in Russell

 “In this program, our school chose a handful of people for barista training with Heine Brothers. In the beginning, we learned the basics about different types of coffee and where it came from. There’s actually a lot of different ways to wash coffee, which I was surprised about. It really does effect the flavor. We tried coffee with different wash types and I loved it. Overtime, we learned how to make the coffee and other drinks. I struggled at first, but after while I calmed down and eventually got the hang of it all. It took some getting used to but it got so much easier.  Not only did I learn a lot about coffee, but I learned a lot about teamwork. This program has definitely improved my skills, especially when working with teams. When working with my team, everything just flowed. It was so much fun working with them. I’m not shy but I would usually get frustrated when it comes to working in groups, but I really learned how to work better with others. What used to be stressful became calming and a good experience. Being apart of the program has certainly improved how I interact with others. I’m sure that’s going to be a great skill to have in the future, which I really appreciate. I enjoyed it a lot.  I want to get a job at one of the Heine Bros. coffee shops because I love the way the company interacts with people. They want to make everybody feel welcomed and less stressed. I love how lively it gets, too. I want to work in a place like this because the positive attitude is just contagious.” - Thalia, Western High School & Heine Bros. Coffee Barista Certification Celebration in Portland

“In this program, our school chose a handful of people for barista training with Heine Brothers. In the beginning, we learned the basics about different types of coffee and where it came from. There’s actually a lot of different ways to wash coffee, which I was surprised about. It really does effect the flavor. We tried coffee with different wash types and I loved it. Overtime, we learned how to make the coffee and other drinks. I struggled at first, but after while I calmed down and eventually got the hang of it all. It took some getting used to but it got so much easier.

Not only did I learn a lot about coffee, but I learned a lot about teamwork. This program has definitely improved my skills, especially when working with teams. When working with my team, everything just flowed. It was so much fun working with them. I’m not shy but I would usually get frustrated when it comes to working in groups, but I really learned how to work better with others. What used to be stressful became calming and a good experience. Being apart of the program has certainly improved how I interact with others. I’m sure that’s going to be a great skill to have in the future, which I really appreciate. I enjoyed it a lot.

I want to get a job at one of the Heine Bros. coffee shops because I love the way the company interacts with people. They want to make everybody feel welcomed and less stressed. I love how lively it gets, too. I want to work in a place like this because the positive attitude is just contagious.” - Thalia, Western High School & Heine Bros. Coffee Barista Certification Celebration in Portland

 “Having kids and wanting to do better has changed my life. You're either gonna end up in the dirt or behind bars. I got grandkids. I got two jobs, man. I done did and done it all, it ain’t worth it. All the money you spend, from getting that fast money, is going right to the lawyer and then you got life. Stick to your job, man. Life is short. Life’s temporary, man. We don’t live forever, it’s temporary. Real talk.   About seven years ago, when I got out of the penitentiary, I said that I’ll never go back and I’m not. It’s not worth it. It’s a purpose for life. What’s the meaning? My purpose is to take care of my family. We was born to die, you might as well ride it til the wheels fall off. You can’t take money with you. You might as well spend it and give it to your family. You can’t take anything with you.  I gotta get right. I’ve done it big and it wasn’t worth it after I did the math, when I got older. I’m thirty-seven years old and it’s almost over. I lived a rough life and did it all. Like, this can’t be life. It has to be better, so I just work two jobs to stay out of trouble.   My advice to the world is to stay humble and love your family. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat people better. All this robbing and stuff ain’t cool. You’ll mess around and do life or end up in the dirt. It’s not worth it. Black people killing black people is not even cool. That’s why we're coming up short. We all gotta come together. It’s time for a change.” - Victor, pictured with his granddaughter, Rhylie in Shawnee

“Having kids and wanting to do better has changed my life. You're either gonna end up in the dirt or behind bars. I got grandkids. I got two jobs, man. I done did and done it all, it ain’t worth it. All the money you spend, from getting that fast money, is going right to the lawyer and then you got life. Stick to your job, man. Life is short. Life’s temporary, man. We don’t live forever, it’s temporary. Real talk. 

About seven years ago, when I got out of the penitentiary, I said that I’ll never go back and I’m not. It’s not worth it. It’s a purpose for life. What’s the meaning? My purpose is to take care of my family. We was born to die, you might as well ride it til the wheels fall off. You can’t take money with you. You might as well spend it and give it to your family. You can’t take anything with you.

I gotta get right. I’ve done it big and it wasn’t worth it after I did the math, when I got older. I’m thirty-seven years old and it’s almost over. I lived a rough life and did it all. Like, this can’t be life. It has to be better, so I just work two jobs to stay out of trouble. 

My advice to the world is to stay humble and love your family. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat people better. All this robbing and stuff ain’t cool. You’ll mess around and do life or end up in the dirt. It’s not worth it. Black people killing black people is not even cool. That’s why we're coming up short. We all gotta come together. It’s time for a change.” - Victor, pictured with his granddaughter, Rhylie in Shawnee

 “Finding out that my son had autism changed my life. I call that my diagnosis day. That was the moment that changed everything about who Gina was. I was a new person, a new mom, and a wife. That moment changed me forever.  My husband and I struggled to have a child for many years. The doctors told us that we shouldn’t have a child but it was that important for us. We decided to keep trying and count on faith. We did and were blessed with a miracle baby. The pregnancy was very rough but it was so worth it. I knew pretty early on that my baby was different, so I really struggled with people trying to hear me tell them that there was something different about my baby. At that time, autism wasn’t really on the map like it is now. A pediatrician heard me out and sent me to Weisskopf Center, here in Louisville. At this time he was three and we took him to be evaluated.  I knew in my heart, what the doctors were going to tell me. They told me that he had autism. For a parent to hear that something is going on with your child, is devastating. You have all of these goals and things in place that you have planned in the future. To hear that it won’t be the case was devastating. I went into a mourning stage, which is common, because you have to mourn the child that you thought you were going to have and then embrace your new normal. He’s eleven now. It did change me. Having a child with a disability teaches you patience and unconditional love. I see the world differently. It taught me how to love. That moment changed me for the better.  I researched myself to death. I was trying all of these things to make my son normal. I was trying all of the fads out there like eating gluten free and putting him in a certain type of mud water. I was trying to help my son but in reality, I was trying to help myself because he was already happy. He was fine. After putting him on the gluten free diet and putting him through so much stuff, I decided to embrace his autism as our new normal. I had to put all of those fads aside. I had to make sure that he was happy and we were happy.  I have always been into creating and writing. I used to write plays and stuff like that. Three years ago, I lost both of my parents to cancer within five months of each other. I looked inside myself and had to figure out my passion. At that time, I thought that cancer was my life sentence. When you lose both of your parents to cancer, you get to thinking that you’re going to be next. So, I had to think that if I’m close to the end of my days, what would my passion be? What’s something that I would want to do? I started writing. I’m a hopeless romantic and started writing a romance novel. I wanted to have something with my name on it, where my family can pick it up and say that I wrote it. Writing became my thing and it became something that I love doing. I sent my work to all of these publishers and kept getting yes, which I didn’t expect to get. I was really doing it. I don’t have the same mindset, as I had when I first started but to see my name on things makes me so proud, regardless if two or a thousand people read it.  Faith and family keeps me going. My husband is my support system. There’s days when I can’t and he keeps me going. I have a lot of things on my plate, so I have to keep moving. If I don’t do it, it’ll take me out. Having this business keeps me going. I still have my days. Me and my mother were super close. My father and I weren’t as close but I always wanted to be a daddy’s little girl and when that was off the table, it was devastating. I was thinking that one day we were going to build this relationship and be tight but when he passed, it was no longer an option. I was thirty-seven and thought to myself that I was an orphan because my parents were gone.” - Gina, co-owner of Trend Setters Hair & Nail Salon in Russell

“Finding out that my son had autism changed my life. I call that my diagnosis day. That was the moment that changed everything about who Gina was. I was a new person, a new mom, and a wife. That moment changed me forever.

My husband and I struggled to have a child for many years. The doctors told us that we shouldn’t have a child but it was that important for us. We decided to keep trying and count on faith. We did and were blessed with a miracle baby. The pregnancy was very rough but it was so worth it. I knew pretty early on that my baby was different, so I really struggled with people trying to hear me tell them that there was something different about my baby. At that time, autism wasn’t really on the map like it is now. A pediatrician heard me out and sent me to Weisskopf Center, here in Louisville. At this time he was three and we took him to be evaluated.

I knew in my heart, what the doctors were going to tell me. They told me that he had autism. For a parent to hear that something is going on with your child, is devastating. You have all of these goals and things in place that you have planned in the future. To hear that it won’t be the case was devastating. I went into a mourning stage, which is common, because you have to mourn the child that you thought you were going to have and then embrace your new normal. He’s eleven now. It did change me. Having a child with a disability teaches you patience and unconditional love. I see the world differently. It taught me how to love. That moment changed me for the better.

I researched myself to death. I was trying all of these things to make my son normal. I was trying all of the fads out there like eating gluten free and putting him in a certain type of mud water. I was trying to help my son but in reality, I was trying to help myself because he was already happy. He was fine. After putting him on the gluten free diet and putting him through so much stuff, I decided to embrace his autism as our new normal. I had to put all of those fads aside. I had to make sure that he was happy and we were happy.

I have always been into creating and writing. I used to write plays and stuff like that. Three years ago, I lost both of my parents to cancer within five months of each other. I looked inside myself and had to figure out my passion. At that time, I thought that cancer was my life sentence. When you lose both of your parents to cancer, you get to thinking that you’re going to be next. So, I had to think that if I’m close to the end of my days, what would my passion be? What’s something that I would want to do? I started writing. I’m a hopeless romantic and started writing a romance novel. I wanted to have something with my name on it, where my family can pick it up and say that I wrote it. Writing became my thing and it became something that I love doing. I sent my work to all of these publishers and kept getting yes, which I didn’t expect to get. I was really doing it. I don’t have the same mindset, as I had when I first started but to see my name on things makes me so proud, regardless if two or a thousand people read it.

Faith and family keeps me going. My husband is my support system. There’s days when I can’t and he keeps me going. I have a lot of things on my plate, so I have to keep moving. If I don’t do it, it’ll take me out. Having this business keeps me going. I still have my days. Me and my mother were super close. My father and I weren’t as close but I always wanted to be a daddy’s little girl and when that was off the table, it was devastating. I was thinking that one day we were going to build this relationship and be tight but when he passed, it was no longer an option. I was thirty-seven and thought to myself that I was an orphan because my parents were gone.” - Gina, co-owner of Trend Setters Hair & Nail Salon in Russell

 “See, I got out of the army in ’69, so I’ve been here since October 1969. It’s still the same old Portland. Everyone gets along pretty good. There’s still a few fights, every once in a while, but it’s still Portland. I love the people here. A lot of them are straight-forward. If you gotta a problem, they’ll tell you and you get it worked out. That’s what it’s all about.   There’s a lot of houses getting tore down and there’s a few new businesses coming. Of course, there used to be a lot of businesses here. This house here, may have been a store or something. There was a lot of mom and pops stores and restaurants and stuff. A lot of them are gone but there’s a lot more coming back and that’s good. The neighborhood needs a little more courtesy. We need people to start saying ‘hello’ or ‘how ya doing?’. All in all, this is a pretty good neighborhood.   I had a heart attack and died and the paramedic shocked me back to life. That was the real eye opener. That happened in ’97. I had to make a lifestyle change. I quit smoking and drinking. I had to let go of a lot of things. That made a big difference.  I even talked to an angel when I was dead. I kept asking her about my wife and kids and she told me not to worry about it and that they were taken care of. She told me that there was two things that God wanted me to do.   When I was brought back to life, I sat at home for two years and couldn’t figure out what God wanted me to do. He wanted me to do two things, not one. I kept thinking about what it was that God wanted. I sat there and watched tv and there was an evangelist on and he said, “There’s two things that God wants you to do.”. He told me to get saved and worship God. I was already saved but it blew me away. It was something so simple and I was trying to make it out to be something else. It was so simple.   I’m happy with life. I’m very happy. I’m poor but I’m happy!  Everybody needs to listen to each other. We all got different views of things, so just listen to each other. It’s so much easier and simpler. Listen to each other because someone else might have a point.”- Richard & Bruno, Portland

“See, I got out of the army in ’69, so I’ve been here since October 1969. It’s still the same old Portland. Everyone gets along pretty good. There’s still a few fights, every once in a while, but it’s still Portland. I love the people here. A lot of them are straight-forward. If you gotta a problem, they’ll tell you and you get it worked out. That’s what it’s all about. 

There’s a lot of houses getting tore down and there’s a few new businesses coming. Of course, there used to be a lot of businesses here. This house here, may have been a store or something. There was a lot of mom and pops stores and restaurants and stuff. A lot of them are gone but there’s a lot more coming back and that’s good. The neighborhood needs a little more courtesy. We need people to start saying ‘hello’ or ‘how ya doing?’. All in all, this is a pretty good neighborhood. 

I had a heart attack and died and the paramedic shocked me back to life. That was the real eye opener. That happened in ’97. I had to make a lifestyle change. I quit smoking and drinking. I had to let go of a lot of things. That made a big difference.

I even talked to an angel when I was dead. I kept asking her about my wife and kids and she told me not to worry about it and that they were taken care of. She told me that there was two things that God wanted me to do. 

When I was brought back to life, I sat at home for two years and couldn’t figure out what God wanted me to do. He wanted me to do two things, not one. I kept thinking about what it was that God wanted. I sat there and watched tv and there was an evangelist on and he said, “There’s two things that God wants you to do.”. He told me to get saved and worship God. I was already saved but it blew me away. It was something so simple and I was trying to make it out to be something else. It was so simple. 

I’m happy with life. I’m very happy. I’m poor but I’m happy!

Everybody needs to listen to each other. We all got different views of things, so just listen to each other. It’s so much easier and simpler. Listen to each other because someone else might have a point.”- Richard & Bruno, Portland

 “I feel good about this election. I hope everything turns out positively. It’s quite a big turnout, this year. There’s a lot of people who haven’t been or thought about voting and are first time voters, today. They’re getting out more than ever. It’s definitely a bigger turn out, based off the hype. I’m feeling good about myself and everyone else’s vote. I think this will effect our community in a positive way. If everyone is more aware, it will always be positive because people are doing something that they should do.   The elected officials really need to be in tune with the community, that they want to represent, by knowing what the needs are. That can be financial needs, resources, new buildings, and even education. That’s the main thing I hope for because a lot of people are misinformed about stuff. Some people feel like their votes and opinions don’t count. We need somebody that’ll listen. That’s my main concern. If everybody would listen, good things can be done and change can happen.   Don’t believe everything you hear because someone says it. Go out and do your research and form your own opinion. Don’t believe what people say or what you read. Read up on your resources and who they got their resources from. Be informed and educated. Don’t allow others to dictate how you think.” - Miles, Portland

“I feel good about this election. I hope everything turns out positively. It’s quite a big turnout, this year. There’s a lot of people who haven’t been or thought about voting and are first time voters, today. They’re getting out more than ever. It’s definitely a bigger turn out, based off the hype. I’m feeling good about myself and everyone else’s vote. I think this will effect our community in a positive way. If everyone is more aware, it will always be positive because people are doing something that they should do. 

The elected officials really need to be in tune with the community, that they want to represent, by knowing what the needs are. That can be financial needs, resources, new buildings, and even education. That’s the main thing I hope for because a lot of people are misinformed about stuff. Some people feel like their votes and opinions don’t count. We need somebody that’ll listen. That’s my main concern. If everybody would listen, good things can be done and change can happen. 

Don’t believe everything you hear because someone says it. Go out and do your research and form your own opinion. Don’t believe what people say or what you read. Read up on your resources and who they got their resources from. Be informed and educated. Don’t allow others to dictate how you think.” - Miles, Portland

 “Nope, I’m not voting. I got previous conviction charges from over ten years ago. I did fifteen months and years later, I did ten. That’s a lot of time to me. I do wanna vote, though. I wouldn’t mind it. It’s been long enough. My vote would matter, just like everyone else's.  I changed a whole lot, since then. I read my bible and pray every morning. I’m just trying to be a better person. I was in some pain, when I was down there. I missed my freedom, my family and friends - just being away. I found my purpose and that’s to be here for my kids and my loved ones. I try to make a difference.   Try to stay on the right path in life. Work to be the best that you can. Put a little time and effort in it and and let it work. If you got positive stuff to do, you’ll turn out positive. If you’re doing negative, it’s only going to lead you to more negative things.  Just try to be a good role model.” - Darrell, Shawnee

“Nope, I’m not voting. I got previous conviction charges from over ten years ago. I did fifteen months and years later, I did ten. That’s a lot of time to me. I do wanna vote, though. I wouldn’t mind it. It’s been long enough. My vote would matter, just like everyone else's.

I changed a whole lot, since then. I read my bible and pray every morning. I’m just trying to be a better person. I was in some pain, when I was down there. I missed my freedom, my family and friends - just being away. I found my purpose and that’s to be here for my kids and my loved ones. I try to make a difference. 

Try to stay on the right path in life. Work to be the best that you can. Put a little time and effort in it and and let it work. If you got positive stuff to do, you’ll turn out positive. If you’re doing negative, it’s only going to lead you to more negative things.  Just try to be a good role model.” - Darrell, Shawnee

 “I can’t vote, but next year, I’ll be able to. I think it’s important. If I don’t, I think that it’s defeating the purpose of our people doing what they did. To not use that right, just defeats the purpose.” - Amanda, Russell

“I can’t vote, but next year, I’ll be able to. I think it’s important. If I don’t, I think that it’s defeating the purpose of our people doing what they did. To not use that right, just defeats the purpose.” - Amanda, Russell

 “Shit, life has been hard. I be going through so much but don’t tell nobody, so people will never know. You know, I just be going through a lot, like going to jail and losing my people in these streets. I done been through a whole lot. Life’s a struggle. It’s just certain predicaments that you have to try to make it out of. You never know what’s going to happen. You can drop dead at anytime or something bad can really happen.   My biggest success has been finding out who I am, as a person. You gotta know yourself, before you interact with others. You never know who you’re hanging out with, unless you know yourself. I don’t think I found my purpose but I’m getting there. I’m still working on myself.   Keep going. Don’t let it stop you. Time ain’t gonna stop for nobody.” - G-Baby (Right) pictured with Caston, Chickasaw

“Shit, life has been hard. I be going through so much but don’t tell nobody, so people will never know. You know, I just be going through a lot, like going to jail and losing my people in these streets. I done been through a whole lot. Life’s a struggle. It’s just certain predicaments that you have to try to make it out of. You never know what’s going to happen. You can drop dead at anytime or something bad can really happen. 

My biggest success has been finding out who I am, as a person. You gotta know yourself, before you interact with others. You never know who you’re hanging out with, unless you know yourself. I don’t think I found my purpose but I’m getting there. I’m still working on myself. 

Keep going. Don’t let it stop you. Time ain’t gonna stop for nobody.” - G-Baby (Right) pictured with Caston, Chickasaw

 “I’ve been here since 2006. The impact that the West End has had on my life has been bumpy. Sometimes, they’ll do good for the community. There’s also too many abandoned houses, that they could do something with, and they’re always taking things away from us. They closed down a lot of boys and girls clubs. I grew up in those. For years, my granny used to work in one of them. I hate that they’re gone. That’s why the kids are out here.  I used to hang with the wrong crowd and get into stuff. I was young and out here in the streets. I can now say that I’ve improved a lot. I graduated and got my high school diploma, with a child. A lot of people aren’t able to do that. I went to TAPP, a pregnancy school, which helped me a lot. They helped me graduate with my regular high school.   My daughter is getting ready to be seven and I’m pregnant again. I was fifteen when I was pregnant with my daughter. I’m twenty-three now. It was kind of hard and a bad experience but I had to mature and make some changes. There were times when I wanted to give up and not go to school but I still went. It was hard but my granny stayed on my back. If she didn’t do that, I’d be out here in the streets.  I got kicked out at seventeen. I had a bad attitude and shit like that. I was always welcomed back home but I had to stay out of the streets. When I came back, I chose to stay home and do school work instead of being out here. It was always tough. My choices were to go to school or be out in the streets. It’s your main two options in the West End. I got accepted into college but I had to deal with my daughter. I was too young. Now that she’s older, I’m wanting go back to school. It’s a wake up call, now that I’m older. I had wake up to reality and snap back.  Being a teen mother was hard, especially when you’re doing everything on your own. My daughter’s father was there in the beginning, for a few months, but then he wasn’t. He was about that street life and we were both really young. I had no choice but to be independent and keep working hard for my daughter.  My strength comes from my family. I had a lot of support and a lot of help. Most people don’t have family. They just have themselves and their child and have to go sleep under bridges and at shelters with their baby.   When you stress more, you won’t find where you’re trying to go in life. It’s harder when you’re always stressed. Just stay on the right path. If it’s a goal for you to achieve something, make sure no one is in the way of stopping you from reaching it. If you’re a teen mom, stay in school and don’t let anybody steal your shine.” - Sky, Russell

“I’ve been here since 2006. The impact that the West End has had on my life has been bumpy. Sometimes, they’ll do good for the community. There’s also too many abandoned houses, that they could do something with, and they’re always taking things away from us. They closed down a lot of boys and girls clubs. I grew up in those. For years, my granny used to work in one of them. I hate that they’re gone. That’s why the kids are out here.

I used to hang with the wrong crowd and get into stuff. I was young and out here in the streets. I can now say that I’ve improved a lot. I graduated and got my high school diploma, with a child. A lot of people aren’t able to do that. I went to TAPP, a pregnancy school, which helped me a lot. They helped me graduate with my regular high school. 

My daughter is getting ready to be seven and I’m pregnant again. I was fifteen when I was pregnant with my daughter. I’m twenty-three now. It was kind of hard and a bad experience but I had to mature and make some changes. There were times when I wanted to give up and not go to school but I still went. It was hard but my granny stayed on my back. If she didn’t do that, I’d be out here in the streets.

I got kicked out at seventeen. I had a bad attitude and shit like that. I was always welcomed back home but I had to stay out of the streets. When I came back, I chose to stay home and do school work instead of being out here. It was always tough. My choices were to go to school or be out in the streets. It’s your main two options in the West End. I got accepted into college but I had to deal with my daughter. I was too young. Now that she’s older, I’m wanting go back to school. It’s a wake up call, now that I’m older. I had wake up to reality and snap back.

Being a teen mother was hard, especially when you’re doing everything on your own. My daughter’s father was there in the beginning, for a few months, but then he wasn’t. He was about that street life and we were both really young. I had no choice but to be independent and keep working hard for my daughter.

My strength comes from my family. I had a lot of support and a lot of help. Most people don’t have family. They just have themselves and their child and have to go sleep under bridges and at shelters with their baby. 

When you stress more, you won’t find where you’re trying to go in life. It’s harder when you’re always stressed. Just stay on the right path. If it’s a goal for you to achieve something, make sure no one is in the way of stopping you from reaching it. If you’re a teen mom, stay in school and don’t let anybody steal your shine.” - Sky, Russell

 "I've been living here all my life. I've done a few years but other than that, I've been here all my life. West is the best end. I ain't got no complaints.   What inspired me to be an entrepreneur was going to jail and having people telling me what to do and when to do it. I would never like that. I never liked someone telling me what to do. I had many other ventures and failures and this is what it led me to. I sell dogs, too. I just didn't want to work for anybody.    It's important for young black people to be entrepreneurs. Well to me, because first of all, you're working for you and yours. You ain't making no other person rich, whether they're white or black, period. They're making a million a week and you're making $20 an hour? Fuck outta here, I'll make my own business. Put my own on and I'm here at 8:00 every morning. This is where I'm at.   Do what you wanna do and work for yourself. Find something that you like to do and find a way for you to make some money off of it. That's all I'm trying to do. I’d even sell candy bars all day. I can’t have it any other way.” - Corey, co-owner of C & E Food Mart, Algonquin

"I've been living here all my life. I've done a few years but other than that, I've been here all my life. West is the best end. I ain't got no complaints.


What inspired me to be an entrepreneur was going to jail and having people telling me what to do and when to do it. I would never like that. I never liked someone telling me what to do. I had many other ventures and failures and this is what it led me to. I sell dogs, too. I just didn't want to work for anybody.


It's important for young black people to be entrepreneurs. Well to me, because first of all, you're working for you and yours. You ain't making no other person rich, whether they're white or black, period. They're making a million a week and you're making $20 an hour? Fuck outta here, I'll make my own business. Put my own on and I'm here at 8:00 every morning. This is where I'm at.


Do what you wanna do and work for yourself. Find something that you like to do and find a way for you to make some money off of it. That's all I'm trying to do. I’d even sell candy bars all day. I can’t have it any other way.” - Corey, co-owner of C & E Food Mart, Algonquin

 “I’ve been in the West End for twenty-five years. My experience has been good and bad. As a teenager, everything was great. They don’t have anything down here for these 2000 babies. I was able to go to different camps and centers. I’m from Victory, it’s on 22nd & Grand. I gotta little Park Hill in me, too. That’s where my daddy’s from. I went off to college in Cincinnati and I’m back home.   Right now, I’m passionate about music and I want to go back to school to be a computer technician. What’s holding me back is that I’m a felon. I caught a case when I lost my son’s father. I went crazy. You know, people just grieve differently. I was in and out of jail and then I caught a serious case. So, when that happened, I was put on papers and I’m about to serve that out.  I paid all my debt off. It was money. It wasn’t street related, but money. That’s what happened. It’s not the downfall. I just have to work harder. You gotta go through things. I just want to be a great mother and be able to give my son the resources that he needs.  If you don’t love yourself, then who will? Always love yourself. That will keep you pushing. You’re not the only one. You can turn anything around. Anything is possible.” - Ieeshia, Parkland    “I’m trying to live to prosper. I don’t want a job, but a career. To be honest, I want to own my own business. I want to go to school and open my own nail shop. I just graduated in May with my GED. The only thing that’s holding me back is the school that I want to go to cost $4000. Once I get up on my feet, I’ll be thinking smarter, not harder. I’ll get there. I don’t want to work for anybody. With the way life is going, I have to but I don’t want to keep doing that. When I’m up on my feet, I’m going to stay up on my feet.  My dream and taking care of these kids keeps me going. I’m just living and thanking God for waking me up to see another day. You wake up and it’s a different day. So, what are you going to do that’s new that'll make you better for the next day?  I can overthink things and that’ll mess me up. So, I try to slowly plan out my goals and write it down. I have to visualize it. Write your goals down so you know it’s real. Even if say that you have to get brakes for your car on Friday, when you get paid, that’s a goal! So whatchu gon’ do?   The key to living your best life is to mind your business and take care of yourself. Don’t be selfish but take care of yourself. I’m the type of person that would help everyone out but I found that it didn’t get me anywhere. I gotta quit doing that because I’m forgetting about myself. I love myself too much to keep battling with that. To live your best life is to live your best life, not everybody else's. Stay prayed up, too. You gotta keep God first. He’s in order of your steps and your life.  If there’s someone that’s older than you, with some wisdom, listen to them! You don’t know everything. I’m about to be twenty-six in twenty-two days and I still don’t know what I think I know. Only a fool won’t listen. Open up your ears and listen.” - Roderica, Parkland   

“I’ve been in the West End for twenty-five years. My experience has been good and bad. As a teenager, everything was great. They don’t have anything down here for these 2000 babies. I was able to go to different camps and centers. I’m from Victory, it’s on 22nd & Grand. I gotta little Park Hill in me, too. That’s where my daddy’s from. I went off to college in Cincinnati and I’m back home. 

Right now, I’m passionate about music and I want to go back to school to be a computer technician. What’s holding me back is that I’m a felon. I caught a case when I lost my son’s father. I went crazy. You know, people just grieve differently. I was in and out of jail and then I caught a serious case. So, when that happened, I was put on papers and I’m about to serve that out.

I paid all my debt off. It was money. It wasn’t street related, but money. That’s what happened. It’s not the downfall. I just have to work harder. You gotta go through things. I just want to be a great mother and be able to give my son the resources that he needs.

If you don’t love yourself, then who will? Always love yourself. That will keep you pushing. You’re not the only one. You can turn anything around. Anything is possible.” - Ieeshia, Parkland

“I’m trying to live to prosper. I don’t want a job, but a career. To be honest, I want to own my own business. I want to go to school and open my own nail shop. I just graduated in May with my GED. The only thing that’s holding me back is the school that I want to go to cost $4000. Once I get up on my feet, I’ll be thinking smarter, not harder. I’ll get there. I don’t want to work for anybody. With the way life is going, I have to but I don’t want to keep doing that. When I’m up on my feet, I’m going to stay up on my feet.

My dream and taking care of these kids keeps me going. I’m just living and thanking God for waking me up to see another day. You wake up and it’s a different day. So, what are you going to do that’s new that'll make you better for the next day?

I can overthink things and that’ll mess me up. So, I try to slowly plan out my goals and write it down. I have to visualize it. Write your goals down so you know it’s real. Even if say that you have to get brakes for your car on Friday, when you get paid, that’s a goal! So whatchu gon’ do? 

The key to living your best life is to mind your business and take care of yourself. Don’t be selfish but take care of yourself. I’m the type of person that would help everyone out but I found that it didn’t get me anywhere. I gotta quit doing that because I’m forgetting about myself. I love myself too much to keep battling with that. To live your best life is to live your best life, not everybody else's. Stay prayed up, too. You gotta keep God first. He’s in order of your steps and your life.

If there’s someone that’s older than you, with some wisdom, listen to them! You don’t know everything. I’m about to be twenty-six in twenty-two days and I still don’t know what I think I know. Only a fool won’t listen. Open up your ears and listen.” - Roderica, Parkland

 

 “Ironically, the highest and lowest times of my life come from people. The highest points of my life are when I’m around my family and friends, creating good memories and good times. My lowest points come with the drama that come from around here, being around enemies and beef. It’s like a double-edge sword.  When I was born, I was given a gift by God, which is music. So, I see myself being an hip-hop artist and a singer. I see myself being on stage, telling my story. I see myself telling stories about this area. You know, this, College Court and Cotter Homes, is where I came up. With that being said, I see myself telling my story to the world.  My story is similar to every other young black male or female. You come from the bottom and you want to get to the top. We lost a lot of people along the way. There’s a lot of people locked down and there’s a lot of people that are no longer with us. You know, just another example of a young black man, with no father. You know the story. I’m just trying to make my ending different than so many others before me. So, it’s just that rags to riches, in America, story. You put that out, we all are going to understand it, especially if you’re from here. Everybody’s trying to make it.  My biggest success in life is making it past twenty-five. I’ve done a lot of things. I’ve done shows with people and made a lot of money. I did all that materialistic stuff but at the end of the day, my greatest accomplishment is still being here. There’s a lot of people that I know, that I thought would still be here and they’re not. So, I have to tell their story, too.  What inspires me? Besides the fact that I have a little girl to look after, I just want to work hard. I would like to come and give back to the place that I came from. I’ve seen so many people that are in the same boat as me. You’ll walk around and see people that you know, from around the block, living the same life as you. I just want to look out for them.  Never give. up. Live legendary. Live everyday like it’s your last because it just might be. Never forget where you come from and for damn sure, don’t forget where you’re going. No matter what, love and peace conquers all. There’s a lot of drama out here but you have to remember that it takes more strength to love than to hate. Believe that. That’s pretty much it.” - Deontae, Shawnee

“Ironically, the highest and lowest times of my life come from people. The highest points of my life are when I’m around my family and friends, creating good memories and good times. My lowest points come with the drama that come from around here, being around enemies and beef. It’s like a double-edge sword.

When I was born, I was given a gift by God, which is music. So, I see myself being an hip-hop artist and a singer. I see myself being on stage, telling my story. I see myself telling stories about this area. You know, this, College Court and Cotter Homes, is where I came up. With that being said, I see myself telling my story to the world.

My story is similar to every other young black male or female. You come from the bottom and you want to get to the top. We lost a lot of people along the way. There’s a lot of people locked down and there’s a lot of people that are no longer with us. You know, just another example of a young black man, with no father. You know the story. I’m just trying to make my ending different than so many others before me. So, it’s just that rags to riches, in America, story. You put that out, we all are going to understand it, especially if you’re from here. Everybody’s trying to make it.

My biggest success in life is making it past twenty-five. I’ve done a lot of things. I’ve done shows with people and made a lot of money. I did all that materialistic stuff but at the end of the day, my greatest accomplishment is still being here. There’s a lot of people that I know, that I thought would still be here and they’re not. So, I have to tell their story, too.

What inspires me? Besides the fact that I have a little girl to look after, I just want to work hard. I would like to come and give back to the place that I came from. I’ve seen so many people that are in the same boat as me. You’ll walk around and see people that you know, from around the block, living the same life as you. I just want to look out for them.

Never give. up. Live legendary. Live everyday like it’s your last because it just might be. Never forget where you come from and for damn sure, don’t forget where you’re going. No matter what, love and peace conquers all. There’s a lot of drama out here but you have to remember that it takes more strength to love than to hate. Believe that. That’s pretty much it.” - Deontae, Shawnee

 “I’ve been in the West my whole life. I’m never gonna forget where I came from. I love the people here. We got all nationalities here and it’s family. You can walk into any store and still feel like it’s family. It’s a big family.  My favorite West End memory is when they took the truck from Dino’s food truck. I was thirteen. Someone grabbed the truck and pulled off with it. The doors and stuff was still open, so as he was driving, the doors were just open and juices were popping out. Everybody was coming to grab them! When he got to the alley, he pulled over, we were grabbing juices and everything. That was my biggest West End memory.  We’re always going to have problems, no matter what. There will always be obstacles in the way. Just stay strong because there’s still more out here. You gotta push forward. Be humble because there’s always a blessing coming next door.” - George (far left) pictured with LaQuetha & Dilemma, Russell

“I’ve been in the West my whole life. I’m never gonna forget where I came from. I love the people here. We got all nationalities here and it’s family. You can walk into any store and still feel like it’s family. It’s a big family.

My favorite West End memory is when they took the truck from Dino’s food truck. I was thirteen. Someone grabbed the truck and pulled off with it. The doors and stuff was still open, so as he was driving, the doors were just open and juices were popping out. Everybody was coming to grab them! When he got to the alley, he pulled over, we were grabbing juices and everything. That was my biggest West End memory.

We’re always going to have problems, no matter what. There will always be obstacles in the way. Just stay strong because there’s still more out here. You gotta push forward. Be humble because there’s always a blessing coming next door.” - George (far left) pictured with LaQuetha & Dilemma, Russell

 “I have not had a lot of success in my life. I actually had a lot of failures, disappointment, and bad shit. Graduating high school has been the most successful thing I’ve done. I don’t know, I really don’t have a life.  A lot of this started when I was younger. My dad left and my mom was broke. My family was just real broke. It kinda had me down as kid. I grew up and would see everybody else with things that I never had. My childhood was kinda depressing, in general.   Personally, I feel like my mom motivates me because I had to watch her struggle so much to make things happen. That motivates me to want more for myself and to be able to take care of her one day. That’s my biggest motivation.   Louisville motivates me. I see homeless people and I think to myself that one day I’ll have enough money to take care of everybody in my city. I wanna see everybody in my city come up. It’s just one of those types of things.  You have to know yourself and get in touch with yourself. Once you do that you’ll understand your purpose and your calling in life. That’ll open up doors for you. When you stop focusing on the outside factors and things that don’t matter, you’ll start getting to where you need to go in life. I’m only eighteen but I think that everyday I get closer to my purpose. I still think that everyday I’m finding more of myself. You have to make sure you know who you are and be the absolute best version of yourself that you can be. That’s the only thing that’ll help you succeed in life.   The West End needs hope, a little bit of rejuvenation, and love. People need to learn how to love one another. I’d like to see more of that.” - Karrington, Chickasaw

“I have not had a lot of success in my life. I actually had a lot of failures, disappointment, and bad shit. Graduating high school has been the most successful thing I’ve done. I don’t know, I really don’t have a life.

A lot of this started when I was younger. My dad left and my mom was broke. My family was just real broke. It kinda had me down as kid. I grew up and would see everybody else with things that I never had. My childhood was kinda depressing, in general. 

Personally, I feel like my mom motivates me because I had to watch her struggle so much to make things happen. That motivates me to want more for myself and to be able to take care of her one day. That’s my biggest motivation. 

Louisville motivates me. I see homeless people and I think to myself that one day I’ll have enough money to take care of everybody in my city. I wanna see everybody in my city come up. It’s just one of those types of things.

You have to know yourself and get in touch with yourself. Once you do that you’ll understand your purpose and your calling in life. That’ll open up doors for you. When you stop focusing on the outside factors and things that don’t matter, you’ll start getting to where you need to go in life. I’m only eighteen but I think that everyday I get closer to my purpose. I still think that everyday I’m finding more of myself. You have to make sure you know who you are and be the absolute best version of yourself that you can be. That’s the only thing that’ll help you succeed in life. 

The West End needs hope, a little bit of rejuvenation, and love. People need to learn how to love one another. I’d like to see more of that.” - Karrington, Chickasaw

 “Being a dad and being back with my kids has been the high point of my life. I got custody of my kids. I’m just happy to be in their life. I'm proud of that. I’m just staying down and being there for them more than my father was for me. Being apart of their lives and beating the Commonwealth is the high for me, right now.  The lowest point of my life is watching my momma struggle. It’s heartbreaking when I can’t do anything to make it better for her. She gotta a bad heart and she’s fighting for social security. They keep on making her work and she can’t do too much of that because of her health. I’m just trying to provide for my momma the best way I can. It’s hard.   My kids and mother’s smile keeps me going. It’s all about that smile on her face and my kids being straight. For real, I’m just trying to get my paperwork straight because I just want to take care of my family. That’s what I want out of life and everything else will fall into place.   Keep pushing and never look back. Don’t let nothing stop you from whatever it is that you’re doing.” - Capo, Parkland

“Being a dad and being back with my kids has been the high point of my life. I got custody of my kids. I’m just happy to be in their life. I'm proud of that. I’m just staying down and being there for them more than my father was for me. Being apart of their lives and beating the Commonwealth is the high for me, right now.

The lowest point of my life is watching my momma struggle. It’s heartbreaking when I can’t do anything to make it better for her. She gotta a bad heart and she’s fighting for social security. They keep on making her work and she can’t do too much of that because of her health. I’m just trying to provide for my momma the best way I can. It’s hard. 

My kids and mother’s smile keeps me going. It’s all about that smile on her face and my kids being straight. For real, I’m just trying to get my paperwork straight because I just want to take care of my family. That’s what I want out of life and everything else will fall into place. 

Keep pushing and never look back. Don’t let nothing stop you from whatever it is that you’re doing.” - Capo, Parkland

 “I’m about to start my movement at Simmons. It’s going to be called Let’s Talk About It. My vision is for our generation to be able to speak up and change what’s going on around us because they’re trying to erase our history and memory of who we are. Let’s talk about it. It’ll be a growing thing to get our black community up and going again because we’ve been sleep for so many years. It’s time to wake up and start coming together, like every other race.  To be honest, my friend Keion, who is an artist, grew up in Sheppard Square. That’s where he jumped off the porch, not in a bad but a good way. That’s where his struggle came from. He was just telling me about how they have torn down everything, up east. He doesn’t even like going there anymore because all of the places that he once knew are all gone.  A few months ago, we were walking through Beecher and that pain that Keion felt, I felt it. When they tear down Beecher Terrace, it’s like all my memories will be gone. I’m not gonna have that anymore.   It’s just something in me that wants to start a movement. We can’t change what’s already out there but we can start something new. Together, we are strong. If we’re separate, we’re weak. I can’t do anything without you and my community. I need people to stand with me. Together, we’re strong.” - Davie, Russell

“I’m about to start my movement at Simmons. It’s going to be called Let’s Talk About It. My vision is for our generation to be able to speak up and change what’s going on around us because they’re trying to erase our history and memory of who we are. Let’s talk about it. It’ll be a growing thing to get our black community up and going again because we’ve been sleep for so many years. It’s time to wake up and start coming together, like every other race.

To be honest, my friend Keion, who is an artist, grew up in Sheppard Square. That’s where he jumped off the porch, not in a bad but a good way. That’s where his struggle came from. He was just telling me about how they have torn down everything, up east. He doesn’t even like going there anymore because all of the places that he once knew are all gone.

A few months ago, we were walking through Beecher and that pain that Keion felt, I felt it. When they tear down Beecher Terrace, it’s like all my memories will be gone. I’m not gonna have that anymore. 

It’s just something in me that wants to start a movement. We can’t change what’s already out there but we can start something new. Together, we are strong. If we’re separate, we’re weak. I can’t do anything without you and my community. I need people to stand with me. Together, we’re strong.” - Davie, Russell