Vision of hope is brought to local youth

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After showing his popular short film “A War For Your Soul,” filmmaker and former teacher Reggie Bullock told of a student he’d lost to the streets years before, who was shot while slinging dope, retaliated and went to jail.

After the film was put on YouTube in 2009, Bullock got a phone call. “Is the same Reggie Bullock who taught at Norwich Free Academy in Connecticut,” the voice said. “It’s me, Devon. I’m a preacher now. You can see me on YouTube, too.”

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SOUL SUPPORTER—Reggie Bullock fields questions after showing his film “A War For Your Soul” at a June 10 One Vision One Life meeting for youth and families on the North Side.

Those miracles, Bullock said, is the reason he made his film and now tours the country spreading his message of hope to at-risk youths. On June 9, at the invitation of One Vision One Life outreach coordinator El Gray, Bullock made a presentation at the Postal Carrier’s Building on Pittsburgh’s North Side.

In his introductory remarks, Gray thanked The Pittsburgh Project, Manchester Bidwell Corp., The Poise Foundation, Central Outreach and the Northside Coalition for Fair Housing for making Bullock’s visit possible.

“I asked this brother to come here because he has such a powerful message for us,” he said. “This is a message of hope for our people. This is about not giving up on our babies.”

The film, only 17 minutes long, briefly recounts the history of Black oppression in America from slavery, through Jim Crow, to the Civil Rights Struggles culminating in the 1960s, to the election of President Barack Obama.

It contains graphic images of whipped and branded slaves, of lynchings, and the KKK, and the self-hating way Black youth use the term “nigger or nigga” as a term of endearment. But it also contains the inspirational words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and President Obama.

“I’m really pushing education,” he said. “If these kids can see how people—not just African-Americans but White people too—how they fought and died just so we could go to school, maybe we can give them back their dreams.”

And that, he said, is his larger message to parents and adults in the Black community—don’t give up on your dreams.

“Kids dream way more than us. They haven’t heard ‘no’ enough yet to stop,” he said. “In order to make kids believe in themselves they have to see it in us. Dream. As long as you can breathe you can change lives.”

During the question and answer session after the film, Pittsburgh Project Director of Community Outreach Will Thompkins asked a young man from the audience to speak. Emmanuel Moore, who just graduated from Northgate High School, told of getting “caught up in the wrong things.”

“I was in Shuman Center and El came to talk to me. I haven’t had the chance to thank him until now,” he said. “I was on house arrest, but I’m involved in my church now. It’s not easy. It takes time and I’m still growing. But I have a lot more races to run.”

Several of the parents in attendance thanked Bullock for bringing his message to Pittsburgh. One, Mike Vick said the film should be shown in Pittsburgh schools. Luther Dupree, sitting with his daughter Nia Simone on his lap, also thanked Bullock.

“There is no loving way to use that ‘N’ word. Thank you,” he said.

Bullock gives DVDs of his film away for free to anyone who asks, and has received calls from across the world thanking him. One, from a mother in England said it inspired her son to work to become the country’s first Black prime minister.

“You are here for a reason,” Bullock said. “We have to start looking at people for their greatness, not their flaws.”

Bullock’s film can be seen and ordered at http://www.warforyoursoul.com.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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