Social entrepreneur Majora Carter is a woman on a mission to end poverty in the US. She's shared her story on this video.
I lived through the era that was called the Bronx is Burning. Landlords were torching their own buildings, to collect insurance money, because that was more profitable. The buildings at either end of my block burned down, and my brother was killed in a gang related murder. Overnight, tons of people that I knew were just gone and I never saw them again. That's when I started planning my escape. I knew I was a pretty smart kid, and I knew that education was a pathway out. I was going to go someplace big and I was never going to look back at this neighborhood.
This is the block I grew up on. I went to Wesley University, but I was really broke and had to move back in with my parents. It was one of the worse feelings of defeat I have ever experienced in my life. All the things I thought about my community and thus myself, that it was somehow just inherently wrong, and bad, and worthless. One way to really put a stake in the ground, was developing a park that was on a waterfront that was formerly used as a dump.
She said, "I'm doing all of this work restoring the Bronx River, we're turning this old vacant lot into a beautiful park, we need people to use it." I said, well that's amazing because we are trying to build boats but we don't have a body of water to put them in. We are a youth and community development organization in the South Bronx. It's not about teaching kids how to build boats, its about using these tools as mediums to help them grow and empower responsible adults and successful people.
For all of my life my home was blocks away from the river but I had never seen it.
She brought me down here, I checked it out, I was like oh my God! This is the spot.
I remember feeling that this was the way to go, developing this community. This corner, where there used to be a burned down building, now holds Startup Box. Startup Box South Bronx is a technology entrepreneurship project. Right now in low income communities, what you often find is lots of people using technology but not making it. We can train people to do quality assurance in the games industry. It's a good idea, I want to take it and spread that message so my being able to travel allows me to spread all the good news that I get and do it in a good way.
I probably spend about a third of the year on the road. A lot of hotels. What I look for is a place that clearly somebody cared about when they designed it. This is going to be your home away from home. Is this the neighborhood I want to live in? For that night, that's my neighborhood, and I want to feel indelved by this sense of calm, and that's a great hotel for me. When you don't want to leave, you know you've got something great to go to. That's what I'm trying to do, create these happy, healthy communities where folks feel as though they can afford to be productive, and gracious, and kind, and loving to themselves and to other people.
I know what it feels like to feel as though you don't matter. All I really want to do is help people understand that they do