Covering the WestSide as it is today and Challenging everyone to become involve as we move into the future.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Two Boys, Two Sets of Lost Dreams
This is the tale of two sets of teenage boys. Both sets of boys had dreams. One set of boys dreams never came to fruition. The other set of boys lived their dreams.
The first set of boys starred in the 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams. It was screened last Friday night at the Better Boys Foundation in honor of the 15th anniversary of the film's release. If you've forgotten about that documentary, let me refresh your memory. Hoop Dreams followed the high school lives of William Gates and Arthur Agee, from their freshman year at St. Joseph High School in Westchester through the start of their college years. The film covered their matriculation through high school in their quest to one day become NBA superstars.
This was the second time I had seen the film. The documentary is still powerful in how it shows how elusive their dreams were. In retrospect, there were tons of warning signs in their lives. As each boy struggled to navigate between the roughness of their home neighborhoods and the stringent academic environment of their predominately-white, middle class high school, a recipe for failure was brewing. Both boys lacked a strong support system at home to assist them in their academic, emotional and financial needs. Other incidences that played into their inability to break out of their circumstances included William injuring his knee; meanwhile, Arthur's family struggled financially as his father lost a number of jobs. His dad later started using illegal drugs.
So, it was a pleasure and a joy to see that since the film's release in 1994, both Arthur and William were in attendance at the screening to speak to us. Their personal hoop dream was a failure, but they were amongst us, still living and breathing.
That led me to think of the other set of boys who had been living their dreams. Tyrone Williams, 19, and Percy Day, 17, were two cousins whose names don't readily and easily roll off the lips of many people. They weren't famous to anyone outside of their immediate families. Tyrone attended the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Percy was enrolled in a special program that allowed him to get his associate degree through DeVry University while still in high school. They were good kids who respected others. They worked hard and were both happily in pursuit of their educational dreams. But on the evening of Sept. 25, 2009, someone walked up to them as they sat on Percy's grandmother's front porch and sprayed the house with bullets. Both Tyrone and Percy were executed. Their tragic deaths became a side note to that weekend's violence because so much media emphasis was on the taped beating death of Derrion Albert the day before.
Whoever sprayed the 3700 block of West Polk with bullets that Friday night shortly after 9 p.m. didn't care who was hit. Bullets flew so wildly that an elderly woman sitting in an apartment across the street was hit in the shoulder by one. Even worst; another elderly next door neighbor who helped raise the two young men suffered a massive heart attack after learning they had been killed. She died the following morning.
The family of Tyrone and Percy was left to ask the question: why? Why did someone shoot and kill them? Why did the front porch of the family home have to become the blood-stained, eternal memorial to their slaughter? Why can't their murder be solved the same as it has been for Derrion Albert? Why can't they get the same type of press and response from the community as did Natasha Howliet - the young mother shot and killed at a West Side bus stop two weeks ago? Many in the community gave information to the police, helping to identify the two persons charged in her death. Can we get some similar people to come forward and tell the police who's responsible for killing Tyrone and Percy?
If burying a single member of a family is tragic, imagine the pain of having to hold two funerals at the same time and on the same day for the senseless murders.
We as a community, and as a society, need to take a stand against all the negative forces preventing our young people from attaining their dreams. Those forces are the ones that continue to wreck havoc in our neighborhoods. And far too often, they are the criminal members of our own families. We tolerate them, ignore them and, at times, encourage them to continue to do what they do.
So here's the same advice to you that my mother gave to all her children - participate in criminal activity and she would always know where to find us on visiting day.
And we will continue to talk about these murders every Sunday night on WRLL 1450 AM radio from 10 p.m. until midnight on the Garfield Majors Show until their killers are found.
LISTEN TO LIVE EVERY SUNDAY WRLL 1450 AM - 10pm UNTIL 12am
Sunday, Garfield Major's show, “Talking To The People” on WRLL 1450 AM from ten until midnight. Call 773-591-6777. To reach Garfield Major, call 773-638-8462 or 8463.
Also visit ONIXLINK.COM to see my postings under the Writer's Block section.
EMAIL ME: WESTSIDE2DAY@YAHOO.COM
Arlene Jones' Biography
I was born in Chicago. I grew up in Cabrini Green. I attended Wells Sr High, the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle where I majored in Spanish and minored in Education. I have a diploma in Computer Programming.
I moved to Austin when I purchased a home here. I have two children.
I have been active in the community since moving here. I started with my blockclub. In the early 1990s, I worked with several people to try and form the North Austin Homeowners Association. I even went on patrol with a group of people who had a walkie talkie car patrol of the neighborhood.
As with most programs in the AA community, many factors led to the demise of those groups. Lack of support from elected officials was at the top of the list.
There were several people who had a group and we met out of DaVinci Manor. DaVinci Manor was at the corner of North Ave and Central where Walgreen now stands. Again there was very little interest in saving that building and our community lost a beautiful hall.
I have protested the state of the Central Ave bridge. I worked with Leola Spann and did many a smoke out including one in the 1500 block of North Lorel where drug paraphenalia layed on the ground. I have over the years here in Austin worked with the following groups at one point or another:
Northeast Austin Organization (Mary Volpe, Tom Hosea);
Northwest Austin Council;
Brotherhood of Black Men;
Westside Health Authority;
Every Block A Village;
25th District Housing Committee;
African American Employees at the Merchandise Mart (AAEMM);
Lafollette Park Advisory Council;
Garfield Park Conservatory Advisory Council;
Westside Executive Advisory Council;
Austin Landmark Cultural Center;
Concerned Citizens of East Garfield Park
and so many others that it gets hard to remember.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. -- Malcolm X