Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 5:04 am
When Tierra Jackson was in high school, she was struggling. She kept getting yelled at for being late to school.
What most of her teachers and administrators didn't know was the reason for her tardiness: Jackson was homeless. Her mother was in and out of prison. She and her brother were living with her aunt and cousins. All seven of them shared a single room in one of Chicago's homeless shelters, a long bus ride from her school.
In this conversation recorded March 31, 2010 with Innocence project worker Christo Raines, Mr. Gibson talks about how he dealt with his unjust incarceration, how boxing at Angola prison helped him get through the ordeal, and how the experience haunted him even after his release in 1993. He talks about how the world had changed while he was behind bars.
In this April 2010 conversation with friend Paula Devlin, George Scott recalls coming to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and why he decided to relocate. And despite a serious medical diagnosis, he's decided that New Orleans is where he'll remain.
Tara Ooms of Covington talks with her father, Kevin Ooms of Cedar Lake, Indiana, about his life as a steel-mill worker and devoted family man. He never got a higher education, but he says his 38 years at the mill as a worker and later in management paid for the education she used to become a veterinarian.
Tara and her sister both followed in their father's footsteps in working a job he once did as a youth. In this conversation recorded April 5th, she talks about his early years, and what he's most enjoyed about his family legacy.
ALSO: In this extended conversation, Anna Mae Martin Doucet talks about her early years living on the Bayou near Golden Meadow and tells her great-granddaughter Elise Sanchez that along with an idyllic country upbringing came the threat of hurricanes.
Melissa Sawyer came to New Orleans from her native Canada through "Teach for America" in 1998, and was assigned special education students at Booker T. Washington High School. She later discovered that she didn't really like the classroom-teaching part of the job. She was much more successful in after-class contacts and activities. She often made home visits and took her students on field trips, forming strong emotional ties that she cherished.
Peter Seltzer was working on his new laptop and getting ready for college when he started taking notice of a hurricane called Katrina heading toward New Orleans. He was staying with his parents Uptown when it became clear that it was serious. He and his younger brother Nathan decided to stay in New Orleans while his parents evacuated.
Maryse Dejean, Al Grandoit and Marc Bien-Aime are Haitian-Americans now living in New Orleans, but maintain a strong connection to their heritage and family still living in Haiti. They met through Haitian relief efforts, and in this April 11th conversation, they discuss their experiences in Haiti as children, as aid workers over the years, and their participation in relief efforts assembled after the January 2010 earthquake.