Find Hope

First child at 13, then prison, then a city leader.

That little spark started from there and then I said; “I’m just going to run for office.”

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It was amazing. It was simply amazing. I said; “You know what? I’m just going to run for office.” Once I did that, I got my citizenship rights restored and then I was able to run for city council. That’s where I reside now.

I had my oldest daughter when I was thirteen. I was having promiscuous behavior, doing things that I shouldn’t have been doing and trying to go to school and trying to make sure that I complete school. I ended up getting pregnant again. I just didn’t have anyone saying; “Listen, you have to take some form of birth control pills or you shouldn’t be having sex at all. Let me show you how to be a parent." I had no one in place to teach me any of those things.

We grew up in housing developments and my siblings and I had to basically be adults and take care of ourselves. That led to a path of destruction like sexual activities for cash to just make sure that we had a meal and to make sure we had attire to wear to school. You know, those kinds of things.

I wasn’t a good parent at all. I was a teenager. All my friends were having fun going to dances and doing everything that they wanted to do but I was having to be a parent.

I got caught up and introduced to drug trafficking. That led me to a whole different path of destruction. I got involved with a group of people that really didn’t mean me good, so it was one criminal activity after another from transporting drugs to stealing. I ended up on a series of robberies which led me to a federal prison for ten years of my life.

First I was in Tallahassee Florida. They sent us to Tallahassee Florida. One of the guards sexually assaulted me. I was devastated. How do you deal with being around men? How do you deal with the blame getting put on you? Was it my fault? Am I going to be able to be in a relationship again? It was those kinds of things that I was having a real hard time with. We committed a crime and we were there to pay our dues for a crime. We weren’t there to be sex slaves. That wasn’t right. So we ended up having to go to trial about it. Once I spoke out about it there were other females in prison that this was happening to. It brought everybody to the forefront and they had to deal with it. This is what was happening in the system and now we have to deal with it because somebody spoke out about it.

Well, because of that I got shipped to a prison in Carswell Texas. They held a church service and a song came on called; “Praise is what I do.” I started crying and flat out at the altar like; “God, just take all this pain away from me. I can’t do this any longer.” (Leaving my children behind and committing crimes). That’s just not the way of life that I want. I felt….you know how you just have this out of body kind of experience, like, it was reminding me that He was there, this whole time. Like; “I got you”.

I knew that I most definitely didn’t want to come back out and be that exact same person that I was. So I prayed to God and said; “God if you could just deliver me from this, I will give you all the honor, glory and praise every chance I get the opportunity to. Just let me be that beacon of light for my family so they can see you in me and they’ll transform their lives the same way.”

I came home and it was the same environment. Nothing clearly had changed. The mindset of the individuals was still the same. They were still entrapped in that same way of life.

My fiancé got killed and it really opened up my eyes to something totally different. We are out here killing each other for no apparent reason. Here it is, I had already lost someone else who could provide for me and me trying to walk and do the right thing. I’m trusting and believing in God. It was just one thing after another. I was like; “God, how do I keep moving forward? How do I keep getting my faith stronger? How do I just continue to believe and walk strong in your faith without just giving up completely?” So I just began to advocate for different things and issues that affected my community. The systemic issues that were in place clearly were designed for many people to go to prison. So, I started organizing community clean ups. I started a neighborhood association. I started attending the city council. Going to the county commission and things that would affect the people that I loved. I started getting involved in it. I started questioning; “Who are our representatives?” So I had no idea who the city council person was or who the county commissioners were. I had heard of the Mayor but I was like; “Who is he?” Does he come out to our community? Those kinds of things. How do we ask these important people questions? How do we get them to see that there is a need out in these areas? That little spark started from there and then I said; “I’m just going to run for office.” So I won by seven hundred votes in the runoff. I was so excited. That let me know then that Chattanooga was ready for a change.

I think the ultimate solution is we have to have God present in our lives. We have to put prayer back into the schools. We have to put prayer back into the athletic fields and we most definitely have to have prayer in our homes. That’s the solution. So when we are talking about impoverished conditions of communities we are talking about our water, the lack of transportation, the lack of anything for anybody to be prosperous. It just stems back to we don’t have ourselves in order. We are not living Godly. We are not producing fruit in a positive way like He would want us to.

Demetrus - First child at 13, then prison, then a city leader.

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