Chris Sims sits on a set of porch stairs near 38th and Auer in Sherman Park. Sims, who sports purple and black to match his flat-brimmed Baltimore Ravens hat, wears the words “Loyalty” and “Respect” on his forearms. “I don’t know what I really wanna do,” he says. “I guess I’m just gonna have to go explorin’ somewhere. I can’t stand still — gotta move around and get what you want.”
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. …
Omar Gayle stands on the porch of a home near the corner of 42nd Street and Auer Avenue. Gayle’s flat-brimmed baseball cap and multi-colored tee pop with fashion, but can’t explain his journey, or where he started from. “I’m a Jamaican,” he says. “It’s a humble beginnin’. We learn to appreciate people and life. I learned to make use of what we got.”
Lonnie Hughes stand just off the curb in front of his home in Sherman Park. He talks with a friend as he leans on the handle of a broom, his right hand covered by a tattered work glove. “When I moved to this neighborhood, it was a fantastic—well, it’s still a great neighborhood,” he says. “People agree, neighbors get along great.”
Lorne Payne sits on a porch in Sherman Park, surrounded by his children. Payne attempts a smile but it’s more a look of fear that comes through — the pain in his eyes is the only thing that’s clear. “My kids keep me alive,” he says. “I love on my kids, make sure they’re happy. I [can] be sad as hell [as] long as my kids happy.”
A group of protesters have taken up residence outside a BP gas station in Sherman Park and are asking community members to take their business elsewhere after an employee dispersed a crowd of Black youth Tuesday night with gunshots.
Elected officials, city officials and community leaders gathered with youth at Sherman Park in a demonstration of support after a violent standoff the night before between Milwaukee youth and police, but when police detained a young teen tensions flared.
Peaches Ellis leans against a railing of her porch in Sherman Park. The 49-year-old wears a wide smile; her bellowing laugh can be heard early and often, in between sentences, up and down a sunny 41st Street. “It was beautiful, it really was,” says Ellis of growing up in Milwaukee. “That was a long time ago. But it was beautiful because it was more peaceful, everybody got along, everybody helped one another.”
Alexander James walks briskly down North Avenue on an early Saturday afternoon. James has somewhere to be, today, but it’s easy to get the feeling there wouldn’t be much slowing him down, no matter what. James, who grew up in the foster system, says he “bounced around, moved around a lot” as a kid. “Those are the cards I was dealt — my mother, she wasn’t able to take care of us,” he says.
This story is part of a series focusing on the 30th Street Industrial & Economic Corridor. Lorenzo Williams walks across an empty lot that sits between a row of houses near 29th and Chambers as sunset casts shadows across the open space. Williams sports a heavy leather jacket that sags below his shoulders, despite the still-warm early-fall air. Williams says he grew up in, “this neighborhood, right here.” It was nice, back then, but, after some time, the area took a turn for the worse. “Man, growin’ up, it was pretty decent. The neighborhood was nice but it changed, over the years,” he says.