Harper High School. Darryl Green, age 16, 2013. Cedric Bell, age 16, 2012. Shakaki Asphy, age 16, 2012. Marcus Nunn, age 17, 2011. Terrance Green, age 16, 2009. Starkesia Reed, age 14, 2006.

My goal is to graduate…go to school for business and management…try to own my own bakery in the near future, try to come back to Englewood and just help out some kids. My goal while I’m still young is to start a cycle with one person, teach that person to teach the next person…”  Rocky, age 18. 

This Spring I met with several remarkable students at Harper High School to learn how violence affects them and their peers and discuss their goals and aspirations. The students I met greatly impacted my life and I am honored to have heard their powerful stories. One young man, Rocky Lane, shared a beautiful oral history of his life; he discussed growing up without parents, being surrounded by violence, and his growth into the focused and mature young man he is today. What I loved about Rocky was his cool, calm and reserved nature, yet underneath it, behind his youthful eyes was a young man who had been through a lot. Rocky has the voice of so many young men of color who are working to create a positive life for themselves. He breaks a negative stereotype that has been placed on young black males. His goal is to become a pastry chef and own his own bakery. He is a leader, wanting to pass down knowledge and guidance to his peers as you’ll hear in his audio.


 “Violence, I don’t understand it at all. Why, why, why do people feel they need to kill other people,  for what reason?  Nothing at all…It’s kids that dying, not no adults, that’s crazy. Newborns. Teenagers.   I feel sorry for all the parents though, that got kids that passed away from bullets or being in violence.”

I am so grateful to Chad Adams, an amazing educator and the former Assistant Principal at Harper High School for introducing me to some of his beautiful students. When I met with Chad and saw the way he interacted with his students it was obvious the high level of respect and trust they had for him, and the passion and care he had for his students. Adams is now the principal at Sullivan High School. A special thank you to his lovely wife Kate for introducing me to him.

“Even though you didn’t grow up with no mama and daddy you can’t just make that a story just for you not to get out the hood. That’s a problem but you can overcome a problem. Everybody can. That’s why you go to school and you know become anything. It’s hard but its gonna take time, but you gonna do it, as long as you just push yourself.”



 To learn more about the project  visit www.sophianahli.com