My earliest memories of life began in the 20th Ward. In 1996, my family moved to 65th & Green into a historic greystone building that my grandmother purchased. She saved her hard-earned money, and had the dream of creating generational wealth in our family. It was this investment that kept my mother, sister, and me from experiencing homelessness during my childhood.
My understanding of inequities based on race, class, and geography came early in life during my everyday experiences. Every morning, I’d walk to the school bus with my neighbor, Quan, to go to school at Beasley Academy Center. I lost contact with my neighbor. It wasn’t until a home visit during college that I realized because we went to different high schools, my bus buddy’s life trajectory was strikingly different: he ended up on our corner gang border, rising up the ranks in the local gang.
Two days after Christmas in 2011, while home for the the holiday break of my senior year of college, I came face to face with a reality that I had not yet faced, but one that my neighbors had lived all along. As I walked to the corner store, I came within half a block of being caught in open gunfire that claimed the lives of two people and wounded four others at the nearby Church’s Chicken. I always knew violence was present in my community, but that day I learned that bullets don’t care whether you’re an honor roll or reluctant learner, whether you own or rent, whether you’re poor or well off. From that day sprang the concept that I would serve as the positive catalyst my community needed. I vowed to work as hard as I could in order to uplift and re energize the people of my community, as well as dismantle the systems that perpetuate violence and hinder our growth.
I hold a Master’s of Science in Education Policy from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master’s of Arts in Teaching from National Louis University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Michigan.