Jackson leader reflects on the lessons learned in the fight for change

Michigan

John Willis is a leader in Jackson. He is helping shape young lives, by fighting gun violence through the Cure Violence Program. John says the challenges he’s faced as a black man help him work towards a better tomorrow for the next generation.

“I relate more than first hand. My experiences in my life relate to these situations far more than people could ever imagine. If I would tell you some of the stories it would break heart,” said Chief Equity Officer for the City of Jackson, John Willis.                      

John has stories of being arrested for crimes he didn’t commit, and he shares them with the community, and with his 10 kids. It’s a hard conversation that parents need to have.

“We try to emphasize to my sons. Be prepared. Handle things the right way. Do everything within your powers to get through. Live through it. I just want to see them live through it. Anything that happens that is improper we will take care of,” said Willis 

Willis is hopeful for change, and he’s thinks that the city of Jackson is on the right path.

“Jackson is taking a great effort to create equitable policies making sure that our decisions on diversity, and that we are inclusive in our processes. So that’s very encouraging to me to see that we are taking those steps to get those things done.”   

As a leader today, Willis wants his community to know that he is here ,and he will be there to help lead.

“Sometimes people think that you have forgotten. Or you are not one of them. No. I am. I am one of them. That is my community.”                   

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