Tuesday morning, June 13th a young black man name Michael Baker graduated from John Hope College Prep Academy. All seemed well that day as I attended his graduation party. He had asked me to attend and he was happy to see that I showed up. I did a video shoot of him and his cousins rapping about life in the hood, nothing real violent just a group of teens who had now become official young adults that were celebrating the fact that they had all completed a course they were taking.
I ate tacos that were great even drank a cold beer. I took photos of Michael, his cousins, friends and grandmother. It was a unique feeling for me, I was extremely happy for all of them that day. I was also praying for them because I had a weird feeling about that day. I had told everyone that I knew to be careful and to watch their surroundings that day. Michael was a great kid and was often accompanied by many of his friends as they did what teens do, party.
Adults may not always agree with how teens do what they do but this generation is different from my generation just like my generation was different from my mother’s and her mother’s too. If you were to have met Michael, you would love his laughter. He was a smart young man and knew a lot about life. I considered them like the John Hope kids that I have come to know, a ray of hope for many. Some of them have even graduated and are going off to college.
It had gotten really late and dark, so I shook Michael’s hand and said these famous words to him as looked him in the eye “Michael I have to leave now because I have a long ride to 47 and Cottage Grove and then back to 99th where I live. Whatever you do tonight, please be careful and watch your surroundings. He smiled and said okay, I got you and offered to walk me to the bus stop, but I told him no, that I was okay and that he should continue to enjoy himself for the rest of the night.
So, I went on my way. Later Michael walked a friend to the bus stop and the peaceful night turned into a night mare. Michael Baker was shot 4 times on 60th and Throop. The ambulance took him to John H Stroger Hospital. He lost a lot of blood a neighbor said, but the paramedics kept working on him while they were in route. It was a very tense moment for his family. I was shocked when I woke and checked my face book messages to see that Michael had been shot four times. Upon the family’s request, I went to see him in the hospital. I didn’t see any Chicago activist or the independent Media activist. I guess they only come when the police kill some one Black. However, I did see Robert Dingo. I had asked him to check on Michael.
As I visited Michael that Wednesday and Thursday, he told me in the mist of his pain with a smile on his face “don’t worry, God got me.” I set there for hours in his room watching him struggle through the pain. But as he said, God had his back. I told him that he was alive and a strong young man who refused to die because God had his back. Michael went through a lot that month, his struggles taught all of us a lesson about faith. His belief in God carried him through and his great family and friends also supported him. His mother is a work harder and she and her mother are educated women. He lived in a positive environment, I’m happy to say this story doesn’t have a tragic ending, the boy who shot Michael was forced to turn himself. This time Englewood residents were not going to let Michael be another victim of the streets. Michael plans to also go to college stay tuned for future updates. He has since be released from the hospital and is at home resting.