Having grown up as a Navy kid, constantly moving from city to city, local author and motivational speaker Keandre Curry has seen the realities of living as a minority from several different perspectives.
Curry was born in Alabama, but his family would then be relocated to Virginia, Illinois, and finally Jacksonville.
It’s this same advanced sense of perspective that guided Curry in penning his new fiction novel, “Beyond the Worst.”
In the novel, Curry tells the story of a lawyer who grew up in a neighborhood plagued by crime and lack of resources – a very real scenario for many minority communities. He comes back to help lead the neighborhood into a new era of prosperity.
It’s a story inspired largely by Curry’s time in Chicago, a city that has long been plagued by the same issues facing the neighborhood in “Beyond the Worst.”
But according to Curry, his time in Chicago wasn’t entirely a negative experience. He also saw the things that were being done right, such as the music programs provided by schools in Chicago. Curry learned to play the cello and gained a passion for music, but was disappointed to find that programs like that are much harder to come across in Jacksonville.
“[In Jacksonville] they’re trying to cut all of that stuff,” Curry notes.
Curry also sees parallels between some of the problems Chicago faces and those we face in Jax. Both cities struggle mightily with providing quality public education, with multiple area schools having shut down due to poor scores and a lack of resources.
But there are also unique problems facing Jax, such as how spread out the city is and how that affects the distribution of resources.
“Every area suffers differently,” Curry says.
But despite the challenges the city faces, Curry is optimistic about minority communities being able to thrive in Jacksonville. The key, he says, will be spreading diversity to the entire community, thus exposing us all to different ideas, cultures, and ways of life.
“Just mix up Jacksonville – diversify everything,” he adds.
For his part, Curry plans to utilize his motivational speaking skills to start a dialogue amongst city leaders and citizens to prevent the type of negligence that has been seen in communities such as Eureka Gardens.
For those living in disadvantaged communities, Curry’s activism and wisdom is a welcomed presence. We can’t wait to see what he will accomplish next.