West of Ninth: People, in their own words… (6/12)

May 29, 2019
Shania, from Russell

“It’s very family oriented, and you see a lot of love shown down here. What makes it home to me? I can walk down the street and know somebody. I can walk around the corner, and somebody would be ready to help me with anything. It’s lots of help and love, but, at the same time, there’s a lot of lost souls.

We need more love for the youth because we’re the future. We need more people to set examples and give us guidance. You see liquor stores on every corner. Where are the bookstores? I wanna see stuff that’ll help us and allow us to come together. I would like to see a difference. I wanna see unity, love, support and happiness. I’m tired of seeing gun violence and drugs. We need more black-owned businesses and fewer liquor stores! The kids need a place to go to after school, and adults need places where they can just hang out. We just don’t have anything like that.

My biggest influence is my mother. As a single parent of three, she did an awesome job with us. She instilled wisdom and knowledge by showing me that you always need to know where you’re going and where you come from. She taught me that I can’t stay in one place too long — I have to keep going. My mother keeps me going. We just went to go look at colleges, and I’m feeling good about that. I was lost at first, but, after visiting colleges, I’m feeling really good about myself. I know what I want to do.

I plan on going to Sullivan. They have a lot of stuff for me. I want to own my own business, so I’m going to be taking up marketing and business management. I want to own a hair salon. I feel that Sullivan will help me with my career. They are directing people to make their own paths. I learned about the guy that owns SuperChefs. He went to Sullivan and graduated from there. I learned that he didn’t have any money and was homeless. I found that it was amazing that he took a chance on himself and created a successful business. That’s role model goals!

I sometimes battle depression, but there are people around me who help and show me that there are better ways to go about things and that I don’t always have to be down. I put God first, too. Like, when I’m not in the best of moods, I got my mom and family that help me. Even when I’m in The West End, and I’m walking down the street, there’s always somebody saying, ‘Smile, young lady!’ At the end of the day, life is something to be happy about. Every day that you wake up is a blessing. There’s a purpose for everyone’s life. In order to fulfill your purpose, you have to live.” •


Marra

May 1, 2019
Marra, from Park DuValle

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“Growing up, there was always a big group of kids from the neighborhood, from every block, that would get together. None of us knew each other, except for a few of us, but we were all thrown outside by our parents. They would make us go play and get to know each other. We all became best friends. We call each other brother and sister ‘til this day. We’ve been hanging out since we were 8 years old. We used to go around the neighborhood and play games like manhunt or tag. As we got older, we stayed connected. Even though we went to different universities, we still come back home and plan days to be with each other. Sometimes, we might just meet up as a few of us because some of us are still in Louisville. We just stay connected and have fun since we’re young.

Right now, I’m going to Jefferson Community & Technical College. I’m actually getting ready to transfer to Indiana University Southeast. The other kids around here go to Louisville. A couple of them go to Bellarmine. The other ones are at Purdue, Ohio and Kentucky. We’re everywhere.

I just switched my major to business administration, marketing and sales. I plan to be a project construction manager and get into real estate.

Since I was younger, I always loved to build and create stuff with my hands. My mom graduated from college and owns her own business, and seeing her doing that got me interested. I always loved real estate. My parents were in it before, and they’re trying to get back into it and start a family business.

I really just want to build a name for my family. We’re not poor, but we’re not rich either. My dad used to always tell me, ‘If you don’t come from a rich family, make a rich family come from you.’ It’s more like a family thing. It’s more personal to me. I just want to start something new with my family. I want to change some things and not just for my family but for the image of a black woman or a black person. I want people to see what I’m doing and know that it’s possible.

Stay focused and be confident in yourself. Once I became confident, I accomplished a lot more. I feel like I can do anything. Some things might be harder for me, than others, obviously. Just having confidence and trust in myself has taken me a lot further.”  •

West of Ninth began as a photography blog, westofninth.com, by Russell residents Walt and Shae Smith. With a love for their community, Walt and Shae see the value and potential of all of West Louisville’s nine neighborhoods. Armed with a Nikon DSLR, a recorder and the ability to never meet a stranger, they work to shed light on what makes West of Ninth the greatest.

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