Busta’s Person of the Week: From dope to hope

Busta’s Person of the Week: From dope to hope
March 02
15:35 2022

By Busta Brown

“My mom had to figure out some things in her life, and so did my father. So, my grandparents took me in at the age three. They were amazing grandparents,” said Michael Harris. When he was a teenager, some would say, selling drugs was his occupation of choice. But when your mother and father exited out of your life as a toddler; the street life becomes a fabricated option to financial prosperity, love and acceptance.

As Michael grew older, he was constantly searching for answers. “Why can’t I do the fun things that other kids were doing with their parents? I had love from my grandparents. They were amazing! But I was looking for love in the wrong places. I looked for love with fast cars, jewelry, expensive clothes, and other material things. I was looking for something to make me happy in my sad situation. So, while other kids were selling candy, I was selling weed,” said Michael.

Harris’s fast lifestyle eventually caught up with him. One day his grandmother, Barbara Harris, found some marijuana in his room. “My grandmother was very spiritual, so you couldn’t get nothing past her. One day she found an ounce of weed and then threw it in the toilet. When I came home from school, she followed me in my room and asked, ‘What are you looking for? It’s in the toilet!’ I had to start all over again,” said Michael as he laughed out loud.

When Michael spoke of his grandparents, I could see and feel his love and admiration for them. Just listening and watching how his eyes lit up and his spirit would glow, I grew to love them myself. He continued, “My grandparents worked hard to give me a great life. I didn’t want for anything. But I couldn’t seem to shake the feeling of emptiness when I saw other kids with their parents. So, I turned to the streets.

“In 2011, on my way home from court, I had some weed on me. I went to make a sale and was busted by some undercover cops. I got out on probation, but it wasn’t long before I got busted again. I was looking at three years, and got paroled out,” said Michael. I could feel the heaviness in his heart.

“While I was locked up, I turned it into a blessing. I finally heard and received all of the beautiful words my grandparents shared with me. They also taught me, if you make your bed, you lay in it. I promised myself this is the last time I lay in this prison bed. I told the Lord, ‘If you get me out of this, I’m not going to do this again.’ To God be the glory, I haven’t done it again,” shared Michael.

When he got out, the Reidsville, North Carolina native turned his life around 180 degrees. “I decided it was either death or a long time in prison. And I got tired of disappointing my family. So, I made the choice to give up that life.”

During his time in prison, he became one of the most admired speakers. When he became a free man, Michael’s passion was to teach and empower others. He became an activist and then hit the road. “I’m now one of the voices for the voiceless, and a national activist and organizer. I marched in downtown Greensboro when we took over the streets after George Floyd’s murder. I marched to the polls in Alamance County, traveled to Elizabethtown to fight with the Brown family, locally with the Fred Cox family in High Point. I traveled to Brunswick, Georgia, to fight with Ahmaud Arbery’s family, and Minneapolis to fight with Daunte Wright’s family. I met with George Floyd’s family, Brianna Taylor’s aunt, and Jacob Blake’s father. I’m on a mission to fight for the rights of our people.” Michael Harris has done interviews on several podcasts, radio and TV stations as well. Along with his activism, you can add educator and mentor to his resume. “A friend and I spoke about the work I do in the community, and my passion for youth. So, he introduced me to the right people, and now I’m living another one of my passions, which is teaching and mentoring. I enjoy empowering our young people. Along with education, parents and teachers must talk to them about real life. If we don’t, someone else will. The streets will know our kids better than their parents. I’m in this to keep the streets from raising our children,” shared a passionate Michael Harris.

I asked the proud father, what should be the New Movement for our youth? “Getting away from today’s hip-hop culture’s narrative of glorifying drugs, gangs, and disrespecting our Black queens. The New Movement for our young is to empower our communities.”

He doesn’t allow his past to define the man that he is today. No one should. I really dig his vision. “I’m working on starting an organization called From Dope 2 Hope. God gave me this vision while sitting in prison. It represents being lost to finding one’s self. No matter what your addictions are, my organization will help you overcome it, whether you’re addicted to low self-esteem, hopelessness, drugs, etc. I’m going to work with other people that got out of prison with a success story, and put them on my board. We’re going to create programs and partner with the school system and communities to empower our scholars. Turn our neighborhoods into the villages that raised children as one family. We can’t be afraid to go into these neighborhoods, because people there look like us. We can’t afford to lose our children to the gangs and streets. We must live like a nation, not a plantation.” 

Harris said, “My favorite scripture is Romans 12:2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is.”

My phenomenal Person of the Week is Michael Harris.

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