Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Heal The Hood - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Ursula Madden

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Heal The Hood

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They grew up in gangs. Living and dying on Memphis streets. Now, a Memphis youth counselor is reaching out to those at-risk kids through music and movies. It is his way of taking back his neighborhood.

Memphis started 2006 with four murders in the first five days. By the second week, three more people, two of them teens, were shot and killed. It was more than LaDell Beamon could take.

"I'm a guy who was raised in the hood, by a single mother and a grandmother, I'm not selling drugs, I haven't been to jail for drug trafficking.  I'm not out here gang-bangin, and if I can do it you can do it also," Beamon said.

Beamon founded Heal the Hood and delivers his message to young people with a traveling troup of hip hop artists, dancers, singers, film makers, and motivational speakers.

It's an idea twins Bryan and Brandon Mathis bought into. 

The twins make up the hip-hop duo known as D' Voted. Before turning to rap, they were members of the Crips. At just 10-years old, they transported backpacks filled with crack into various neighborhoods. As a teen, Bryan was shot. His fellow Crips failed to back him up during a fight.

"As I was running toward him, he was shooting, and as a bullet went past me I  turned around and I seen all those guys leaving me there to die. And it did something to me," Bryan Mathis said.

Brandon was looking at 30 years for attempted murder when he was just a teenager.

"I was faced with an attempted murder charge,  where I got into an altercation. Me and the young man we got into it. I pulled out a gun and held a bus on hostage," Brandon Mathis said. "I told God if you can change my situation, I'll change my life."

The change came when the two connected with LaDell Beamon and put their Musical talents to use.

D'Voted  is now one of dozens of  acts that are part of LaDell Beamon's Heal the Hood traveling show called the Wake Up Tour.
  
"We had a young men at an elementary schools.  Gang Members.   He said he was getting ready to kill another young man. He said it like it was so common.  And he broke down he said man, just the other day I was finna go kill somebody," Beamon said.

It's that reality that drives LaDell Beamon to give kids positive choices.

Whether it's putting on a basketball camp or helping young people develop their own special talents.
  
Beamon warns this community cannot afford to be apathetic when it comes to crime in the hood.
 
"When it visits their household, when it's their mother getting held at gunpoint, when it's their daughter getting stabbed in the heart, lets see how quickly the dynamics or the paradigm shifts then," Beamon said.

Beamon's Wake Up Tour goes all over, but more specifically into area schools. Beamon said his message has reached as many as 40,000 kids, offering them a life away from gangs.


Click here to e-mail Ursula Madden.

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