Despite a daunting childhood experience, Denise Malone is turning over a new leaf.
Michael Stephens sits in a wheelchair near the corner of Achilles and Auer streets in Milwaukee’s Harambee neighborhood. These days, Stephens doesn’t have either of his legs, but that doesn’t seem to trouble him, too much. “[I] live day by day,” he says. “Whatever happens, good or bad, [I’ll] deal with it, like I’ve always done.”
Willie Louis Speed Jr. walks down a quiet street in the Martin Drive neighborhood, tucked away just south of West Vliet Street. Speed’s life, up until now, has been anything but that. “I was born in Tunica, Mississippi,” he says. “I’m actually from Chicago. I came up here.”
Lisa Keys stands on the corner of 35th and Clarke waiting for a ride on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Keys’ cropped haircut, long, dangling earring and furry black vest adorn her short frame. “I had a daughter, she got killed in Chicago. And, I was goin’ through the things I was goin’ through. And, my kids’ dad brought them here,” she says.
Juan Malave stands near 35th and Auer, by a parking lot, paintbrush in hand. He’s working on a garage nearby. This is his life. “Yeah, every day, 365 days, you know; I’m working Monday, Saturday, every day. At 6 o’clock, till 8, 9 o’clock, you know,” he says. “I’m working for every guy, every man, you know, every people.”
Richie Rich leans against a tree near the corner of 36th and Concordia. He wears a flat-brimmed baseball cap and long jean shorts; a keychain, gilded in gold, hangs from a belt buckle. He’s hesitant to speak and refuses to give his real name. “All these shootin’s and robberies, I see that shit e’ry day; [people] just only see it on the news — I’m out here in that shit. So, I don’t even watch the news because I see it anyway, face to face.”
David Cisney lounges on the stone steps of his home in Arlington Heights. He’s resting, taking a break from raking the yard. On this Saturday afternoon he’s getting some work done around the house because it’s the only day he doesn’t have a church-related activity planned. You won’t often find David sitting still. “I’ve lived a good life,” he says. “You know, when you live in the city, there’s always stuff to do and I can’t understand why the young people today have so many problems.”