"I am from Ethiopia, but my children were born here. Raising kids is not easy, especially nowadays. I hope my kids will think about their future and do their best. I always try to teach them to believe in themselves, not to let anything stop them from reaching their goals, and not to give up even when it is hard."
"I've always worked in public education: first as a classroom teacher, then in the district Instructional Technology department, and now as a consultant with a major educational materials publisher. My boss recently asked me, 'What is your goal? What do you want the most?' My answer has always been, 'I want to help children, and I want to help teachers help children.'
"When I was still in the classroom, I would tell my students, 'When I see you 5 or 10 years from now, the first thing I'm going to ask is "What are you doing?" and your answer had better not be "Nothing." I often run across former students, and they tell me what they're doing even before I ask. They know.
"I went in for some allergy testing recently and was escorted back by a young woman who looked familiar, but I couldn't place her. When we got to the room, she turned to me and said, 'Come on in, Ms. Fowler, my 8th grade teacher.' That's how I knew her! She had been my student all those years ago, and now she was a medical assistant! I was so proud of her! You know how, when you're tested for allergies, you're stuck with dozens of needles? My former student was the one doing the testing. I held out my arms, and she kept laughing as I told her, 'I'm so glad I was nice to you as a teacher!' And I was. If you're a teacher and you don't like children, then you need to get out of the profession because you're doing a disservice.
"These kids are going to be taking care of us when we get old, so it's important to educate them, help them find their passion, and encourage them to be successful."
"I sell vintage jewelry, African oils, perfume, shea butter, and dolls. I enjoy it out here, especially the beautiful weather and the great people I'm getting to meet."
The Imperial Market is held each weekend in the parking lot of the old Imperial Bowling Lanes at 4700 Summer Avenue.
"I've learned that emotions are temporary. When I'm worrying about the future and feeling negative about it, I remind myself that those feelings will pass. Knowing that gives me a sense of hope."
"People hear the lyrics in rap music and automatically get turned off, but systemic racism and inequality are more vulgar than any language in my songs. As an artist, I'm responding to what I've seen growing up in north Memphis; the lyrics reflect what's actually happening. If we're not aware of the vulgarity out here, we can't address it. Yeah, I could do Kumbaya songs about blacks and whites all together and make people feel good, but that's not the reality. Those kinds of lyrics shelter people and lie to them. They make people feel like there is no racism in the world. If you're offended by what you hear in rap songs, then work to change things.
"You say you care about the city? Then get out in the neighborhoods and talk to people. Don't just go in and pick up trash or paint a mural. That doesn't change what's underneath. Don't just take field trips and go back feeling like you've really done something. Listen to people, ask them what they need, get their input. Partner with them and help them get connected to resources. Empower them. Ask them: 'What do you want and how can we accomplish it together?'
"When those with power and resources talk about helping the city, they don't ask community members for input, so they're not invested in what's being done. They buy up buildings and open coffee shops and boutiques, but those are not for the neighborhood. The people who live here don't even know about them. They're here so white people can feel comfortable coming to this area, but white people can't float these newly gentrified businesses forever. They can't sustain them. The neighborhood needs to have input into what's being done.
"People living here don't have the resources or the ability to get the resources to make their dreams come true. A kid in Silicon Valley has an idea for an app and has access to all the funding and help he needs, but a kid here with the same idea has no way to make it happen. That's why kids give up, get angry, and then take it on other people. We need to connect people with resources and figure out ways to work together.
"I want to encourage kids to hold onto their dreams. That's why I'm mentoring at East High School where I graduated. And that's why I created the 'Books on Beale' benefit concert: we donated 500 books to a community library and raised $20,000 for literacy the first year we did it. I want to give back to my neighborhood. Yes, my career is coming along well, but volunteering and helping out my community are more important to me than a paycheck."
Website for Marco Pave, Hip-Hop/Rap Artist: http://marcopave.com
Excellent interview with Duke University students: http://readcontra.com/2014/11/rap-as-a-community-tool-marco-pave-speaks/
There's also an interesting interview with Marco on the ilovememphis blog.
"When I was in school in Jordan, I failed four years of studies, but my parents were patient and helped and supported me. I finally finished high school when I was 23 years old, and then they got the money together for me to go to college and get my bachelor's and master's degrees. Fifteen months ago, I came to the U.S. to pursue a Ph.D at the University of Memphis. It's easier here than in Jordan to arrange a schedule where I can work and go to school at the same time. My mom and dad have always encouraged me, and I am proud to have them as parents. They have given me everything in life."
"As I've gotten older, I've wanted to give back and make a difference, even in small ways. I did some photography work for 'Focus on the Good' a few years ago that involved working with homeless people, and it was eye-opening. I began to see the reasons so many of them were homeless: many were mental health consumers, and others wanted to work but just didn't have the skills or abilities to get jobs. In spending time with them, I realized they were no different from me; we're all people, and we're all just one paycheck away from homelessness ourselves. I want to use photography as a way to give back to those who don't have a lot and who may not even know how to put their experiences into words. Their stories are on their faces."
"My dad had his own business and was very successful. He always told me, 'Work hard at everything you do,' and I've tried to live by that. I graduated from college, and now I'm working hard at figuring out my next move."
"When I was 7, my mom died. We lived in Guatemala and were very poor. My three brothers and I stayed alone with my dad, and he didn't know what to do with us. He tried to send us with other people, one to this family, one to another, but my Grandmom said she would take us so we wouldn't be separated. I don't know how she did it. We had no money for clothes or shoes, and we only had food because God gave it to us. You have to pay to go to school there, and we couldn't pay and couldn't buy uniforms, so I didn't get to go very much. Maybe six years if you put all the time together. I started cleaning shoes when I was 8, working eight or nine hours a day for a dollar and a half.
"We grew up. My father and older brother moved to the United States, and when I was 15, I decided to come too because it's a hard life there. Little money, not many jobs. A year later, my Grandmom who raised me back in Guatemala died. That was a hard time, very hard, because she was like my mom. Before she died, she always told me, 'Never give up. I trust you. Take care of your brothers.' Then when I was 18, my father died too, so my brothers and I were here alone. I remembered my Grandmom's words about never giving up, so I tried to make a life like normal people for my little brothers and myself.
"Thanks to God, I have a good life now. I'm 22 years old, I have a job, a girlfriend, a lot of good friends, and I can help other people who don't have as much as I do. I'm going to be fine.
"No matter what happens in your life, you can trust God. You can't always trust people. Some just want to use you. There are good people and bad people out there, so you have to be careful, but you can always trust God. Ask him with faith, and he will give you everything you need."
"I've gotten through heartbreak, depression, and life itself by trusting in God. I tell people that if God can change me, he can change you too. I may not look like what you'd expect a believer to look like, but God chooses the foolish things of this world to shame the wise."