University of Louisville Magazine

FALL 2017

The University of Louisville Alumni Magazine: for alumni, faculty, staff, students and anyone that is a UofL Cardinal fan.

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38 UOFLMAGAZINE.COM African American leaders who changed history, including Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, Tom- mie Smith and others. Thomas, for example, portrays Smith in one ad, while Leavell replicates one of Muhammad Ali's famous poses in another. Imitating these heroes inspired the fellows. "It helped me gain a sense of self-knowledge," Thomas said. Personal growth is critical to the YVPRC mission. "In addi- tion to cultivating a positive racial identity, growing youth in the areas of leadership, advocacy and activism is another important role of the YVPRC," Ingram said. "We hope to give them a space to develop what they already have within themselves and build capacity to bring lasting change to communities." Vision for change After learning the history of his neighborhood and his culture, Thomas began to examine his own past. He admitted to using violence as retaliation after bul- lies taunted him; it even got him expelled from his high school. "I ended up responding the only way I knew how, which was vio- lence," he said. Thomas, who later earned his GED and has attended classes at Jefferson Community and Tech- nical College, said his time with the YVPRC has helped him think more critically about how he responds to provocation, and how he can affect change in himself and his community. "Change is incremental, it doesn't happen overnight," he said. "We are at least looking into what can be done and formulating action strategies." One of the action strategies is to have the fellows work with YVPRC partners, including the Louisville Metro Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods and Jef- ferson County Public Schools, to creatively express their own ideas "I am trying to reach out and pull others through the door. I want to open their eyes to understanding their identity and be proud of who they are." Neely

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