Some people experience bad things, leading them towards a life of violence and crime. But with others, tough situations encourage them to help others.
Billy Lamar Brooks Sr., fortunately, belongs to the second group.
Brooks, a former Black Panther member, has experienced many of life’s challenges as a black man living in North Lawndale, Illinois, a neighborhood just outside of Chicago. As a young boy, he experienced racism from Chicago police, lost his son — Billy Lamar Brooks, Jr. — to murder right before Father’s Day in 1991, and has seen how poverty affected his hometown. Despite all this, Brooks continues to help his community the best way he can: By impacting the lives of young people in his neighborhood.
Currently, Brooks serves as the Director of YouthLab@1512 at the Better Boys Foundation (BBF), where he works with kids ages of 13 to 18 throughout the year. “I love them [students]. That’s why I’m here. I enjoy doing what I do,” he said. “It’s my profession. It’s my career. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
While he helps his students with their academic and prevocational goals at BBF, he is also out on the streets every day, trying to teach the neighborhood’s kids the value of their choices. “There are times we have to go out there and hunt them down, and chase them, berate them, but it’s all out of love.”
In The Atlantic‘s video, republished by Upworthy, he says, “It’s about choice, when I tell young people this today. One does not have to come from a middle class, two parent household to be successful in life.”
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