Eddie Griffin Speaks: Candice Goes To College
Near Southeast Fort Worth was once the epicenter of hopelessness. Drugs weigh the community down and alcohol washes away the pain of guilt and responsibility. Crime is petty but prevalent, and money is nowhere to be found. But out of the rough comes a rare diamond. Candice is going to college.
This is hood rat turf. Kids here are not known to go to college. They are usually included into the statistics of the dropouts and teen pregnancy. And, anyway, who would even dare them to hope to go to college, when the thought of cost comes in? But Candice worked, hoped, and dreamed of a scholarship. And, she got it.
I remember watching her grow up under the tutelage of Wallace Bridges and the Near Southeast Fort Worth “Weed and Seed” program. She was one in a group of ashy face high school kids chatting in a forum with adults and community activists. The teenagers talked, and I never considered how serious they might be about their goals and aspirations. Hood rats are always full of fat talk.
But there was something Wallace Bridges did. He made Candice and the other teens feel special. To him, they were somebody. And, he was determined that they would be somebody.
Shirley and Johnny Lewis conceived the “Weed and Seed” program in Near Southeast Fort Worth. The idea was to first weed out crime and corruption. And, indeed, this is the only part of Fort Worth where crime is down.
Second came the seed- the children of a new generation. These kids would be nurtured in a cleaner and safer neighborhood environment. And, although they were surrounded by poverty and family hardships, they had a haven, even if it meant sleeping on the floor at the home of Wallace Bridge until the storm blew over.
Wallace is the program director of the Near Southeast Fort Worth “Weed and Seed” program. He has connected with all the near elementary and middle schools.
The two high schools in the area is as different as night and day, one academically acceptable and other unacceptable. But the neighbor "hood rats" are fighting for better. One by one, I see them fighting for a way out.
Candice was one of the first seeds to blossom. The announcement came during a Black History program at the new neighborhood Shamblee Library. Candice received an acceptance letter to TCU, as in the prestigious Texas Christian University.
All I could say was: You Go Girl!