The genius behind the opportunity for me to write the “Word on the Street” column belongs to Ms. Rachel Reeves.
As a member of the Opa-locka Civic Club and President of Brothers of the Same Mind, I would frequently submit letters to the editor on a consistent basis and, depending on what the subject matter was, I would even call out the person or people regardless of who they were, or the title or position that they held. I would let the community know that those individuals were a part of the problem and not the solution of what was and is ailing the Black community. Every Wednesday like clockwork in between 10 a.m. - noon I would pull up at the offices of The Miami Times to get my paper, regardless of whether I or Brothers of the Same Mind was featured in it. In the Black community getting a Miami Times every week is like going to church.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, The Miami Times was consistently doing stories on the police and the negative impact they were having in the Black community. Within a lot of those articles were quotes and concerns from myself because at the time I was the spokesman for Brothers of The Same Mind. During that span, there were several police programs: Weed and Seed, Operation Clean Sweep, Safe Streets and the Jump Out Boys from both the city of Miami and Metro-Dade Police departments that were just harassing and targeting anyone and everyone in the Black community. The police sometimes arrested members of the public for simply sitting on milk crates, thankfully charges that the office of Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle refused to prosecute.
One day in the early 2000s (I can’t recall the year) Ms. Reeves invited me into her office and told me to sit down. As we began to talk, she me asked “Would you like to write for me?” she continued, “If you do it, has to be in that same aggressive writing style that you submit in your letters to the editor.” Of course, I accepted. But the one thing that I never realized, up until the day the God came and called His child back home to Him, is what she saw in me. Ms. Reeves recognized the writing talent within me that I didn't even recognize I had. Ms. Reeves told the editor to no longer accept my letters to the editor and gave me a regular appearance on page three of the editorial section of the paper. In 2012, after the death of my daughter, I stop writing for the paper until 2015 when I meet Ms. Carolyn Guniss who gave me another opportunity.
Ms. Reeves gave an ex-felon, who lived a turbulent lifestyle in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and went to jail for aggravated battery, domestic violence and drug selling, a chance to contribute to her legacy and the legacy of her family’s newspaper. I know there are people who are reading this who are in total shock about this revelation about the Black community’s signature newspaper. But all we need as formerly incarcerated citizens is a chance. We are worth more than a vote to either political party. And, like it or not, sometimes the perspective of a Black man, reformed from a life of crime and street hustling, is exactly the kind of man who is needed to give you a word from the brutal streets that most will never know. A word that can educate without exposure to the danger or grief of the streets. A word that puts God first after a miraculous change that gripped me, forever. Thank you Ms. Reeves for allowing my talent to flourish; for giving the ex-felons a voice, a full decade before we won the vote; for your conviction and courage to uplift our people without regard of consequences. You are an icon, not merely because of what you did in allowing me to write a column. You are an icon, because of why you did it. May the God of peace keep you in His bosom.