Deon Bell was a restless child, which initially led him to the streets. Since then, he’s been able to harness the life that lies inside him.
Raised by entrepreneurial parents who pushed her to follow in their footsteps, Lori Hill has forged a path of her own.
Mohamud Suleiman, who has braved the waves of inopportunity and is taking on the responsibilities of fatherhood, still believes his time will come.
While Matt Pizur’s early life was defined by a rocky relationship with his father, he’s been able to carve out his own sense of happiness.
Carolyn Bradford walks down an empty 42nd Street at dusk. Bradford’s gregarious personality complements her ostentatious appearance — patterned glasses, a leopard-print jacket and dangly earrings decorate a personality defined by exuberance. “My childhood was great,” she says. “Bein’ a military brat, it was great. Until I got older, and then my parents got divorced when I was young. Now, they’re both deceased.
Donald Ealy shuffles across an empty Center Street in Park West. Ealy’s tired eyes and thin mustache adorn his weathered face; a patterned cardigan and brown driving cap lend him an air of aged dignity. “When I went to prison, my eyes wasn’t open,” Ealy says. “I wrote the judge a letter thankin’ him for savin’ my life. I had 30 years. The judge brought me back to court because he said he had never got a letter like this before, and he said the letter was so sincere … he brought me back to court and took 15 years away.”
DaVaughn Patterson finishes cutting a stretch of grass on 44th Street, just south of Garfield Avenue in Washington Park. Patterson, still in tattered shoes and a hoodie, lets one of the neighborhood children help before putting the mower away. “I don’t have a problem with Milwaukee,” he says. “I work with a lot of people that work in Milwaukee but don’t live in Milwaukee and have a different view of Milwaukee, you know?”
Nathaniel Wright leans against a white railing while speaking with family on an Autumn afternoon. Wright wasn’t born in Milwaukee but many of its neighborhoods, like the one he’s standing in, are familiar. Violence, he says, is what links Milwaukee with his birthplace of St. Louis, Missouri. “You tend to follow in the footsteps of the older ones in the neighborhood, and it’s just recycled on down,” says Wright. “You know, some is lucky to get out, some ain’t.” Nathaniel comes from a large family — 13 children, in all. He’s the second youngest. “Just imagine 13 of your siblings all in the same house and you all want something different,” he says. But, from all accounts, his family was a good one. Wright refers to his mom and dad as “workin’ people.” His mother was a registered nurse at the John L. Doyne Hospital, formerly Milwaukee County Hospital; his father got a job at A.O. Smith — where he worked until he retired — after the family moved to Milwaukee when Nathaniel was 9. …
Marion Long walks out of his yard, on the way to the Three Brothers Tobacco & Grocery at 44th and Burleigh streets. Amongst those coming and going from the corner store, Long stands out, exuding a quiet sort of confidence. “I’m a kind-hearted person,” he says, as he leans on the corner of the building. “This life is not made for me.” Marion was born in Milwaukee and grew up near 22nd and Walnut. “It was hard, but I got used to it quick,” he says. “When I walked to the park I had to go through Cherry (Street), and there was, like, bullies over there. I was young so they [would bully] me.” “It was hard, but I got used to it quick.” He was younger and smaller than the other kids, so any time he had something with him they would try to take it, he says. “It made me want to do it to (other) people.” “[I] … beat up a kid and took his stuff, but I felt bad,” says Long. …
Amy Tim stands in front of a stoop in Harambee with a couple of her kids nearby. Tim, who grew up on Milwaukee’s northwest side, has been in-between two worlds for as long as she can remember. “I struggled … growin’ up because my mother was African-American and I’m bi-racial,” she says. “Bein’ a bi-racial child, it was hard for me.” Amy calls it “difficult” and “complicated” growing up in Black neighborhoods with her mother. “I’ve never been accepted by either black or white people,” she says. For a long time, Tim let that get to her. Eventually, though, she decided she had to do something to make the situation better. “I just had to endure the pain myself,” says Amy. “I just had to be like, ‘Okay, I gotta live with it.’ I can’t change it.” “You have to accept who you are to … grow and become the person you want to [be],” she says.“You can’t worry about what other people think.” Community-focused. Community-funded. Become a member today. While she was still in …