Lifting Up Black Stories: 3 Neighbors Transforming their Communities

Watch how these three black neighbors are transforming communities.

We take storytelling seriously at Grotto because we’ve staked our work on the notion that stories can change lives. So the kinds of stories that we tell matters

And stories don’t have to be about social activism in order to effect a change. The most important change for each one of us is found in the ways that stories shape our hearts. With that criteria in mind, there really are no stories too big or too small to make a difference. 

Here are three stories of black community members who are transforming their communities in both grand and small ways. 

Charles Jenkins

Charles “Bike Man” Jenkins has been repairing and building bikes for people in his community for more than 50 years. The impact he has had on countless lives on the West Side neighborhood of South Bend, Indiana, can hardly be measured.

“Because the kids love it, and I love to make the kids happy, and I just continue to do it,” Charles says. “I guess it’s the love of my life.”

Abdi Abajabal

Abdi is a refugee from Ethiopia who opened a juice bar in Harlem, NYC. He changed his diet for health reasons and opened his juice bar to help others eat healthier, too.

“I started with the help of a lot of people, including coming to this country,” Abdi says. “So even for me, it is my purpose to live. I want to improve the community lifestyle, so that’s why I start a nutrition class here.”

Kim Webber

Kim Webber uses the power of storytelling to capture people’s attention and get them to open their eyes to the injustices tied to the crisis of homelessness in Oakland, CA.

“Slowly, over time, I recognized the undeniable power of storytelling,” Kim says, “and how incredible it is a tool to get people to pay attention to the injustices happening in the world.”

These people might not be the first that our society would look to as leaders, but they are leading nonetheless — and going about it in a way that makes a concrete difference to the people in their neighborhood. These leaders know that it’s okay to start small and in your own backyard — often, that’s the only place where you can have an impact. 

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