For three years Los Angeles' Homeboy Industries, a nationally recognized gang intervention organization, has sent a select few of its members on an extraordinary pilgrimage to work with impoverished kids in Alabama Village, Prichard, Ala.


Alabama's Homeboys: Credits

Video Report: Katy Newton Photography: Liz O Baylen Flash: Sean Connelley Website Design: Sean Connelley, Katy Newton Data Analysis: Doug Smith & Sandra Poindexter Copy: Katy Newton, Liz O. Baylen, Scott Gold, Megan Garvey Video / Photography Editor: Mary Cooney Special Projects Editor: Michael McGehee Copy Editing: Eldes Tran & Mark McGonigle Color Correction: Jeff Amlotte Special Thanks: Stephanie Ferrell, Marc Duvoisin, Raoul Rañoa, Ben Welsh


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Reporting from Times staff writers.

163 user comments

Commentary from readers.

Just a bunch of criminals...all of them...They will never be productive members of society...we should just round them all up and drop them off in Somalia...
What a bunch of misfits...

posted 7:53 AM on 05/09/11

Great doc and, while it deeply saddened me, it also made me proud to support Homeboys and the important work they do.

To the small-minded, ethnocentric, and overall awful KENDAHL MARLE: it's people like you who make Christians look bad.

posted 3:43 PM on 02/08/11

They have the same opportunity as the rest of us. I've lived near Prichard all my life. I only wish I had the opportunity these folks have had in the past. Take responsibility for yourself. ...and don't wait for the Government or your check in the mailbox. Go and make something happen..

posted 7:36 AM on 01/04/11

I have lived all of my adult life in LA. I spent my 2nd, 3rd and 4th years in LA homeless and in and out of jail. I'm closer to 50 now and I have since become a responsible person.
I am completely thrown by this article. I grew up in Alabama. In Montgomery to be exact. I forgot everything I knew growing up. Watching this doesn't bring back any memories of the south I knew. I'm saddened and sickened by the thought of it. In a city (LA) where a Russin immigrant who has been in the country for less than 3 weeks, can get luxury, low-income housing in Hollywood (exactly at 1600 Vine) @ Hollywood Blvd. for $630/ mo.
We have American-born citizens living with fewer amenities than the homeless. This is disturbing.
I'm going to add an important comment for my brothers and sisters in Prichard: VOTE. You cannot let the Sarah Palins and the Tea Party Republicans push you onto the sidelines, only to be forgotten about.
In a state that supports the abolition of free health care, welfare and food stamp programs. Alabama needs to wake up. I don't see the majority of it's citizens making over $250K a year, so the only reason to vote Republican is ignorance or hate. (6 figure income or a 2 figure I.Q.)
God bless you, God bless The Homeboys.
A special thanks to the L.A. Times for bringing this to the attention of those who otherwise would never know.
Just one or two states away there's a politician who believes blacks should be denied service at white restaurants.

Silver Laker
posted 4:13 PM on 10/20/10

I cannot believe that our US citizens are liviing like this. ITS SAD!!!! All the immigrants that come here and get good shelter, food and jobs. Why are we suffering? This is sad and the government should be ashamed and there mayor. WHY????????? Its not 1900 its 2010 and thats how we should be living. I have tears coming as I write this and my prayers go out to Prichard AL.

posted 2:28 PM on 10/06/10

... I've lived near the village my whole life, and my family owns a business right next to it, and from what I've seen it's only getting worse... it's nice that there are people out there who think they can change it, but it's not going to happen, and everyone here knows it ... If these kids out here want to do better for themselves, their only option is to get out, so I really hope that's what these guys are telling them to do ...

posted 8:57 AM on 09/29/10

I think this was a great piece, this situation is all around the world and getting worse. How can I get involved to help make a difference? I’m in a comfortable position in life and have a lot of talent to offer.
Our nation spent billions of dollars on bail outs for what? This is just a small example of things to come if we don’t start taking care of our own children.
Equality for all is one of our biggest problems, until we fix that I suspect matters to get much worse real soon.

J Willis
posted 11:05 AM on 08/30/10

Why'd they have to talk over the young kid rapping to the beat. I'd like to have heard his rhymes a bit. It would be great if they could get a recording studio and musical instruments out to these kids. How about a mobile non-profit recording studio. Great doc. Thanks.

posted 10:37 PM on 08/14/10

great video & story! Can the homeboys come to the Eastside of L. A. County? Say....Pomona? I would like to see how Pomona's gang problem compares to south / central L.A.

My father grew up in Boyle Heights, CA & successfully avoided gangs in the 40's & 50's. Yes he had at times to physically defend himself as they tried to jump him in, and sometimes he just ran. It was the right thing for him to do in those days. He went to the library, got into sports & became a writer & moved out of there. His family was very poor. Luckily his parents TOLD their children that they had alternatives. I believe that when gangs offer a child affiliation, parents need to speak up and take action. Hard to do if those parents are addicts, i know, but Parents who do not communicate against gang-banging are essentially endorsing it.

it''s all about relationships & affiliation. If you give kids positive versions of these life dynamics then they choose and model those dynamics. Parents often feel powerless. It is not always true. There is so much power in the communication between parent & child.

Christina Long
posted 1:10 PM on 07/19/10

This is an awesome story. I have been out of prison for 17 years straight after wasting my entire youth on selling dope and gang banging, going to jail, and eventually prison. Kids/Bangers/Etc... nowadays dont realize the impact that "Thugging" has on your life. After four felonies for drug sales with a weapon conviction(s), and doing time,and violating parole. when you get out, the struggle is barely beginning. Do you think anyone wants to hire a convict? The stereotype that once in trouble always in trouble is so untrue, but society doesnt see it that way. On parole, I applied for 350 jobs without anyone even giving me an iterview, why ? Because on the applications I had to check the box that I was convicted of a felony. Dont do it to your self, dont do what I did. it has taken my 17 years to get back to where I would be when I was 23 if I never banged and slanged. I didnt have have Homeboy Industries to offer guidance, I got lucky and found Jesus, and through my faith in God and Pastor Winters at Bayview Baptist Church in San Diego, I found the patience required to overcome this plague we call Gangs\Drugs\Jail and the System. These kids are lucky to have Homeboy Industries give them their stories, and instill in them that there is hope, kids can be kids without dope, gangs , and guns. Young adults, and even adults can benefit from this type of counseling/program. Thanks to the LA Times for having this on your site.

John Redondo
posted 7:09 AM on 07/16/10

I am thankful to the LA Times for publishing this and making it a top story. I am also truly grateful that the LA Homeboys shared their lives with those children. What a wonderful program LA Homeboys must be!!

I have only driven by Pritchard on the interstate as I'm passing through to another town. But living in Alabama all my life, it is sadly not surprising that these poor children live in these conditions. If folks outside of the south want to know what the real problem is, I can tell you that it is drugs. People are people regardless of skin color. But throw in the use of drugs and poisons, and good people quickly become bad, and the children of those people are the first and worst to suffer.

I live in a community in Alabama that forgets how poor some of this state is. We get in our nice cars, live in our wonderful homes, and the biggest concern we have is whether little Billy or little Susie is going to make the little league all star team. Our priorities in Alabama have gotten so far out of focus.

I'm embarrassed by the fact that 4 of the top 10 most expensive college football games come from this state. A state that has so much that kills its potential, yet we have people who will give thousands of dollars to see a football game. Certainly this isn't unique to Alabama, but in my opinion, it is the most glaring example of priorities out of line.

J. Renfroe
posted 6:50 AM on 06/07/10

Looking at this video it made me think back when i was coming up. Queen Court Project not to far from the village. I had to deal with some of the same stuff. I had family that care enough to make sure i stayed on the right pathe. It was not easy but living in Prichard,AL was never easy, but now some parts are getting better u can see a change. Even tho it was tuff on the younth in Prichard this is my home and PRIDE OF IT

posted 4:52 PM on 05/24/10

I am glad that someone decided to show how and our children are the way they are. I lived in Alabama Village most of my childhood. I walked those flooded, unpaved roads everyday to get to school. Like some of the people that posted a comment, I knew that I wanted better for my life and I knew that if I remained in that enviroment that it wouldn't happen. The most important thing I had to help me get to where I am is positive people in my life and thats what those children and all children need. They need someone to be there on a daily basis to show them that selling drugs and gang banging is not the only way. Someone to be there when the parents are out on drugs, binging for weeks at a time, someone who will let them know that because they can't afford the new Jordans doesn't mean that they are less than others. I understand that this occurs all across the USA, but I glad that someone took the time to show the world, the lack of concern for life and education that Prichard, Alabama, and the United States has for its citizens.

L. Robinson
posted 9:16 AM on 05/23/10

Thanks to the LA Times and of course to the Homeboys for their wonderful service at "Light of the Village" in our on-going effort to share Christ's message of faith, hope and love to this special community. In the last nine years, thousands of volunteers have come and shared their time with these kids. Thanks again, Peace- John & Dolores

John, Light of Village
posted 7:32 PM on 04/26/10

Enriching...thanks for sharing.

posted 3:13 AM on 04/11/10

To the poster who asked, "What happens after the Homeboys leave?" I have an answer. People step up, people who see the need. I'm a part of a college group of interns selected from all over the Southeast of the US and this will be our second summer returning to Prichard, AL to work with the children and families in the area of Whistler and surrounding areas of poverty in this area of Alabama. That being said, I repeat, this is our second summer returning. We are trying to change lives, attempting to make a difference, and growing through knowing these children and these families. Things are being done, and it only takes a few to start it.

posted 8:51 PM on 04/05/10

I grew up in an area much like Prichard except a little more rural in Northern AL. Very poor, very little to eat, sometimes nothing to eat, a home that was not insulated that leaked and had roaches and scorpions and snakes infesting it.

My parents grew up there and never tried to leave despite the fact that the area, like much of rural AL, is a wasteland of people that were left over after industry moved away years ago. People in that region are mostly too stubborn and proud of their towns to leave. They take pride in being "tough" and having it rough in life, they think it builds character and makes you an "authentic" southerner and christian.

I moved away from there as soon as I was old enough and have made something of my life. I worked hard to provide for myself and now have a good home and a successful professional career. I was making more money than either of my parents ever had by the time I was 20. I saved myself, simply by refusing to perpetuate the cycle of ignorance and poverty.

The people of these regions need to wake up and get out of these impoverished areas that offer ABSOLUTELY NO FUTURE for their children.

Scott K
posted 6:45 AM on 03/18/10

This short video was very interesting. I feel horrible that the kids are upset and want a better life, but they keep getting turned down to those opportunities. I can put myself in their place and it kills me to see an opportunity pass by without pursuing it!! Thanks to the LA times for posting a video like this. It touches many people and makes them want to help out our communities a lot more.
These kids deserve as second chance. I say that we all do.

Alyssia Cuzcueta
posted 8:44 AM on 03/12/10

Its embarrasing how stubborn people are. Thats all they have are drugs and friends that are in gangs. They dont know better. These kids are amazing . Im fifteen and I visited last summer. People think they know how other people are and they dont. If you knew these kids that are the same age as me you would be amazed . I love them all. I hope other people can learn. They dont have anyone else but there friends.

Paula Valdez
posted 10:15 AM on 03/08/10

Prichard used to be the fastest growing city in the state of Alabama. Both my parents grew up in Alabama Village, one living off a mechanics salary and the other a police officer's salary. It was a nice working class community. Then segregation happened and the blacks were allowed to move in. It's been down hill ever since. It's hard to build and maintain a city when the majority of the citizens are on welfare and can't pay taxes.

posted 3:14 PM on 03/04/10

i found this a really good short doc. what surprises and upsets me is how much these kids really want a better life and how they are denied even that chance. I can't believe this is the seems an erosion of family values and desperate poverty forces kids into a 'thug life'. more work needs to be done like this, both in your country and England.

posted 12:11 PM on 02/25/10

all kids need and deserve a father or brother or uncle or friend who cares....heroes!!!

posted 6:49 AM on 02/09/10

I have lived in Mobile, AL most of my life. For those that don't know, Mobile borders the south of Prichard. I'm white and actually lived in the Village when I was 9 and 10. My mother was poor and felt that sticking a needle in her arm, or keeping a sandwich bag of laquer thinner over her face was more important than my little sister and me eating. You learn to appreciate dog biscuits when you have nothing else to eat. But, my point is this...I do not want you to feel sorry for me. I realized when I was in high school that I wanted something better for my life than wondering where my next meal was going to come from, or if I had somewhere to sleep that night. I made the decision that I would join the army, but was discharged for medical reasons. I then decided to be a police officer in Mobile.
Yes, I do feel sympathy for those kids in the Village because I've been there. However, I am tired of people using the excuse that "Because I live in a drug and gang infested neighborhood, that means that there is no hope for me, so I might as well be a gang banger". That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard! Most of those kids, their parent(s) are poor, and they can go to pretty much any college they want to because of that. There is no excuse!!
Also, I should point out that the city of Prichard is one of the worst run and most corrupt cities I know of. New Orleans should get the Nobel prize compared to Prichard. And the city council is all black. So, there is no white man keeping them down or not allowing the people of Prichard to thrive. They do it to themselves, and until the people of Prichard decide to change things themselves, no amount of money, religion, or intervention will make a difference. Though I am glad to see someone taking an interest.

posted 10:17 AM on 02/08/10

Just wanted to add these kids do need help and I am glad they are getting it, as well as people out there who are willing to help

John Batam
posted 10:07 AM on 02/05/10

Wonderful story. I help kids in my area of Seattle. We are not homeboys but we do OK.
One problem I have though with all of this, my job included.
Just because you are poor, that does not 'force' you to get into drugs, gangs, etc. That is wrongly expressed over and over and over again. Yes these kids live in horrible conditions, but no one is stopping them from learning on their own or reaching out to a teacher, pastor, or library. Look at these kids just sitting down all day wasting time. If they wanted to, they could be learning something.

John Batam
posted 9:52 AM on 02/05/10

So these former gang bangers go down to Alabama and talk to the kids. What happens when they leave?

Larry Larng
posted 7:29 PM on 01/28/10

from L A to L A(lower alabama). I used to live in mobile. pritchard is a very tough place. i feel sorry for the kids who grow up in any situation like this. if the financially rich people would take an interest we could all make the world a better place to live. very cool that people from los angeles are making a difference in mobile

posted 8:30 PM on 01/22/10

I have seen horrendous poverty, de facto segregation, racism, failing schools, and any other social problem that the South faces right here in California.

posted 1:53 PM on 01/19/10

This video was very well done, but its significance goes far beyond the video itself. I am told there are approximately 85,000 gang members in LA. I know there are many more who came up through the gangs, and have been through the penal system. There are many many more across the country who are living, or have lived the gang life. We have a very large alienated population who are scarred by what they've seen and lived, who have meager job skills, who cannot read, who cannot fill out a job application, who do not understand the culture of the larger society, and the workforce, who may never become employed or productive, and will never know the dignity and respect that comes with gainful employment. As a country and a society we need urgently to address this population, and get them back into the larger society on terms that meet their and our needs. The alternative is to waste their lives and their potential. Fr. Boyle and Homeboy have shown a pathway to bring current gang members to a healthy, rewarding, and productive life. Politicians, police, employers, clergy, -- all need to look at this work and learn from it. Is it a panacea? No. Is it worth expanding, and building upon? Without question, it is. I've seen this work in progress from the beginning. We have to support Homeboy, and programs like it, if we are to live up to our potential as a country and as a people. BDJ

Brian D. Johnston
posted 6:09 PM on 01/10/10

Yes... good documentary. Relationships, communication and friendship are the foundational elements of life. Still these lessons are difficult to learn if there is no work and no money. Teaching those that have little to nothing, the lesson of 'how to get theirs' is good. How to teach those that 'have it all' and don't even know it to share the resources would even be better. Fixing an old broken down house with duck tape and Elemer's glue is challenging; in the end you have an old house held together with glue and tape. Disassembling the over the top monstrosities that are called houses, but are really, or at least could be, apartment complex for several families, and distributing the resources equally; would be righteous. Not having enough is unjust. Having way more than you need or could ever possibly use is at the least neurotic and really should be criminal. Having a second vacation home is immoral. Can you not see that there are those that have nothing. What has happened to you that you don't feel the slightest remorse. Giving it all away until you only have 'enough' won't save the world but then again it won't cause it's demise either.

Ory Browne
posted 12:01 PM on 01/07/10

Above all, kids need a strong society to grow up in. Strong families need parents with secure jobs, free health care and free education for themselves and their offspring plus pensions for the elderly (with an up-to- date infrastructure to match it). For all that a strong fiscal system and ALL able citizens paying their fair share of taxes is needed. A modern welfare society taking care of ALL its people.
But that of course, is nothing but Stalin Bolshevik talk in neolib America.
Failed state USA! A Third World country masquerading as a rich democratic heaven for all the free souls on earth - waging wars all over the globe!

A. W. Bergh
posted 8:58 AM on 01/07/10

I have lived in TN, AL, and KY, and I married a girl from GA so I have experienced the South to its fullest. I would have to say that the one problem that could be fixed and make an enormous difference would be education. I am an educator and a coach who has seen what a difference education can make (or lack thereof) in young adults. The South's education systems are probably the most underfunded among any of the U.S. regions. If the federal government actually cared (Rep's, Dem's, Lib's, Con's, etc.) then they would funnel more of the tax payer revenue away from states who have enough money and people to be self-sustaining (CA and NY) toward states who need it more (FL, AL, MS, LA, etc.). There is no conspiracy to suppress the black community in the South, it's just that there is no money to be made by the politicians for funding education.

If you go to any small town in AL, MS, or south GA then you will realize that all the poor children go to public school and all the middle to upper class children go to private school. Why? Because the public education system doesn't prepare kids for higher education. Middle and upper class parents, who most likely went to college, want their kids to go to college as well. They choose to pay out of pocket for a private education because they know their child will be prepared for college from that particular private school.

Why do you think so many athletes from the south go to college to play ball don't graduate from college? It's a miracle that some of them stay eligible for more than a year. I coached a guy professionally last year who was probably the best athlete I have ever been around. After high school, he signed on with an SEC school to play both football and basketball, because he was that good. Fall of his freshman year he set records while playing football that still stand, but didn't even make it to basketball season because he wasn't getting it done in the classroom. What was the problem, as I later found out from his personal tutor? He couldn't read! He never returned to school. That story still makes me both sad and angry.

By ignoring the financial situation in the south's education systems we are just perpetuating a cycle of underachievement.

Coach H
posted 7:41 AM on 01/07/10

Brilliant documentary.
A very well thought out psychological antidote that must work and could be reapplied in function to other causes.

Jean Figueres
posted 3:15 AM on 01/07/10

This is a wonderful story of hope. I've worked in Africa and the Middle East and it is not as bad as Prichard. In Africa, the kids haven't given up and can speak good English. They may not have as much, but their community is still intact.

When I started practcing law in 1972, liberals were implementing the destsruction of the black family via AFDC. They forced fathers to choose between their children and assistance for the mothers. Two generations later, the black family is in the ICU.

This is a wonderful story of hope. Hopefully liberals will see it and stop their war on the black family.

Welfare kills families.

John of Austin
posted 4:34 PM on 01/06/10

This story was very touching. I grew up in Birmingham, AL (living in San Diego now) and I've seen communities like this one. It's interesting to hear L.A. gang-bangers saying a poor southern community is worse than their own neighborhood back in L.A.

The Homeboys sounds like a great program--I hope they keep continuing to spread the positive message.

posted 9:45 PM on 01/05/10

I have lived in LA..Mobile..B'ham..San Fran and on and on..THIS happens in all parts of the US..NOT JUST IN THE SOUTH!! There comes a time where you have to change your surroundings by pure perseverence and focus! YOU know that there is something better waiting for you just over the horizion YOU just have to want to GET IT! Of course the children are the victims HERE just as they are 200 miles from ALABAMA and 2000 miles from ALABAMA! This situation just seems so pathetic to ya'll because these people have a SOUTHERN accent. Take a look across town to COMPTON..things ain't much better!!!
When does personal responsibility enter in the equation? Being poor southern white trash, I say it begins the moment that you are able to make a difference..that is in your life or someone else's!!

posted 8:51 PM on 01/05/10

What this article fails to recognize is that Pritchard is a second away from Mobile. Mobile is going through a gradual rebirth and has been awarded several lucrative contracts in the last few years. The question that begs answering is how Pritchard got to be this way and Mobile is managing to move forward.
I lived in Birmingham, AL for several years and I was constantly told that any black person who said that they were from Mobile,was actually from Pritchard, but too ashamed to admit it.
How sad is that?

Lynne Feldman
posted 3:31 PM on 01/05/10

Alex, I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and I have to tell you that your flat out wrong to suggest that the south has not changed. (Remember Bull Connor?)Blacks and whites in the south today do not see each other as blacks and whites, just people. We are so sick of that racist label that we fall all over ourselves to make sure there's not a racist cell in our bodies. White men and women marry black men and women, and white kids and black kids date each other and nobody blinks an eye. That's just the way it is in the south.
Now, poverty is poverty. Broken homes are broken homes. Ghettos are ghettos, no matter what the color is of the people living there and no matter what part of the country they are in. Have you paid any attention at all to the income levels of people in that town, county, or part of the state of Alabama? It has nothing to do with color. It has everything to do with lack of strong families, lack of strong churches, and lack of strong businesses. Where you find strong families and strong churches, no matter the income, you'll find happy, healthy kids.

posted 5:51 AM on 01/05/10

This is not a racial issue reflected in black inequality in socioeconomic realities. There are white kids in these neighborhoods too. There are white kids in poor neighborhoods all over the South, and they see the other kids in their neighborhoods as brothers and friends. I live in the South, am conservative and white – yep, the big three of evil. But I had a black man as a groomsman at my wedding. I consider a black man as a great mentor in my life. I work constantly with black and white children in poor communities to help them see that they can overcome everything people like you say that cannot. That is what this story is really about. It’s about a great group from LA stepping in against the stereotypes and helping these kids find worth in their lives when everyone is telling them they’ll be nothing more than a statistic. It shows in the smiles on their faces, in the faint glimmer of hope in their voices. And, certainly, if you feel moved, do all you can to help with this great program. But here’s another suggestion: Find the spots in your community that are down-trodden and needy. Start there. I guarantee there are people close to you that need you, your time, your resources and most importantly: your love. God bless the folks in this neighborhood, the Homeboys and everyone who takes the time to help.

posted 2:09 PM on 01/04/10

I can't believe this is going on in the richest country in the world, it shows that politicians do not represent their communities, soon as they are elected to the top office they tend to turn their backs on those who elect them.

David moore
posted 7:28 AM on 01/03/10

Nothing has really changed in the south, if Dr King and all the freedom fighters who marched with him and led the movement with him like Medgar Evers and Ralph Abernathy were still alive or could simply see Pritchard Alabama and all the other dumps like it in the south they would not be the least bit surprised.
There is poverty in the north and west but for some reason its not nearly as bad as in the south. The reason is simple the south has been led since the days of reconstruction by a ideological philosophy that keeps the poor, regardless of skin color, neutrally or downwardly mobile. Of course coupled with white supremecist racism it has hurt blacks far worse than whites, but poor whites are hurting all the same even if they can't see themselves in the same economic boat as the black folks who live just across the tracks from them.

The hopelessness in these places comes from isolation, just look at the documentary, look at the environment, dilapidated, dirty and ugly. New York City housing projects are pretty bleak looking themselves but at least there kept tidy and for $2.25 you can hop on the train and go to Manhattan walk in times square, central park, see the sights and hear the sounds of life. Unfortunately southern conservative politicians see no need to create a hopeful environment even for children. They could care less about public education, libraries, parks or even basic infrastructure. People can talk all they want about absent fathers and drugs but anyone with access to a history book or even a older relative will know that long before the the drug gangs and the teenage mothers the south was and is the worst place in America to be poor.

posted 6:19 PM on 01/02/10

This is a story that needs to be shared, discussed, processed and recycled over and over again with all young people living in the US (starting a whatever age they are being exposed to this kind of enviornment).

When there are situations and conditions that lead to one human begin hurting, humiliating or murdering another it is all of our responsiblity to find a solution(no matter the race, class, religion or educational background of the person implementing the chnage).

When you are old enough to identify right from wrong, rational from irrational or loving from hateful behavior- you are then capable of stopping the struggle and becoming a change agent.

When you turn a bline eye, or point a finger instead of starting a conversation or getting invloved, you are EQAULLY responsible for the distructive outcomes that later follow.

Please listen to the testimonies with your heart first and then let your intellect follow. Be a role model or a positive example for a young person that feels their life is worthless or not does make a difference because it worked for me.

May peace and blessings come to all those brave enough to do something about the problems facing our youth and God protect those that just sit by and do nothing as well.

Thank you Katy, LA Times and Homeboys for your hardwork and dedication to our young people.

Silena from West Oakland

Silena Layne
posted 3:20 PM on 01/02/10

The key juncture?
Government sponsored section 8 housing/welfare, which seems to subsidize crime, illegitimacy and just general hopelessness in minority communities.
This is one program that has surely done a lot more harm than good.

posted 8:38 AM on 01/02/10

in response to Keith, what you probably don't understand is that the gang mentality that exists in L.A isn't just in L.A. It's simulated, mimicked and reproduced into other areas, states and cities, even other countires.. Former gang members in L.A have an obligation to turn this around in L.A , yes, but just as important to help give some insight to youth in other areas where the same gang culture is being simulated and flourishing. The police aren't going to help because they get paid off it. They need gang banging to exist. From the gang-unit cops to the prisons all the way up to the feds and drug cartel markets. It's a enormously profiting industry that exists through bleeding the black, brown and all communities of color. Keeping gangs alive is instrumental in this business and that's what the politicians, law enforcement and intelligence agencies want. They'll kill to keep it that way.

posted 12:58 AM on 01/02/10

I guess Los Angeles doesn't have any problems, race or otherwise, so the LA Times has to go other places to find problems. After all, it's not like LA has any gangs. Even if they had any, there wouldn't be any minorities involved. No doubt there are problems in this area of Alabama but clean up your own back yard before you start trying to find problems somewhere else. I realize that for a liberal, on the verge of bankruptcy rag like the LA Times it's easy and popular with your readers to bash the South. However, the South is paradise compared to California. LA and California are lost causes.

posted 12:14 PM on 01/01/10

What a shame that progressive taxes were voted down in the plebiscite--a legal change that would have helped Alabamans to finally help themselves.

Guess ya can't fix stupid.

Re: Marshall Plan. Alabama, like many other Bible Belt states, receives more in Federal funds than it remits. (It recently ranked seventh out of thirty-two. Mississippi was number two.)

posted 2:24 AM on 01/01/10

I have lived my entire life in Prichard. Alabama Village is not a government run housing project. It is a series of dwellings held by private citizens. Some landlords do all they can to keep up their properties; some don't. Many things have contributed to the downfall of Alabama Village including government neglect, poor infrastructure with roads and such, and a definitive lack of tenant responsibility in keeping up the community. In the 70's, I went to kindergarten in the community center in the village. We shared our building with the Public Works Dept. and the Motorcycle Police Division. I remember the cozy familial community and mourn its passing. I do not believe Alabama Village is the result of racism, but rather a result of complacent attitudes among all people in Prichard.

posted 7:10 PM on 12/31/09

CT, you are so right. - From a mother, and a grandmother's, point of view.

Rebecca Goehner
posted 3:51 AM on 12/31/09


posted 11:15 PM on 12/30/09

As a citizen of Prichard, AL (PA), I would like to thank the LA Times for bringing this issue to the millions who read this publication. Yes, the video is not over hyped... This is real life for many in my hometown. We have a city that in bankruptcy for the 2nd time in less than a decade & political leaders that are in it for self gain. Our mayor decided to give himself a 12k pay raise last year, after admitting the city was in a budget crisis & also has a flawed pension plan. We also found out earlier this year that the police dept only has two (yes 2) officers on patrol at night. The system has failed these kids! The Mobile County Schools have failed to educate or send in teachers who actually care if these kids graduate & have a future, their families are struggling (many are single parent homes) so these kids go do what they have to do to survive & go to those who show them "love." Prichard is what it is but like any where else in this country, it is a place where people can dream themselves better. Once we get rid of the corrupt leaders & come together & stand up to fight for & take our city (& kids) back, we will put our city on that right path towards a better future for ourselves & future generations. P.A. isn't much to most, but to me (dispute all)... IT'S HOME. Thanks again LA, CA.

Mike C
posted 10:31 PM on 12/30/09

This story is one that should be broadcast to the country and every community needs to respond and lend a hand in this fight. Gang violence is the scourge of modern society and programs like this can show young people that there are options. Each community must step up and provide those options and make them meaningful for the children or I suspect this work will all go for naught. Jobs that can provide a "decent lifestyle" should be the #1 priority in every community and you would see a dramatic decline in drugs and gang violence. People gravitate towards this type of lifestyle because they feel hopeless and in many cases they are right. The community must step up and offer hope.

posted 9:26 AM on 12/30/09

I am a white male , born in Birmingham, Al. Lived in Alabama all my life. Is there racism in Alabama? Yes. Is there racism in the South? Yes. Is there racism in the country? Yes. Is there racism in the world? Yes. I was deeply moved by this video. It looked like several communities in the South. I'm sure it looks similar to other places in this world. Every human being requires love. Encourage and love the people in your life today. Stop analyzing.

posted 3:48 AM on 12/30/09

For many of you on here to say that the truest form of admiration should come to those who got it right from the beginning... this is a fallacy as this implies a person cannot make a mistake and we all live in peaceful conditions.

The realization that one made mistakes and initiative to correct them is a two fold story: on one side, the person develops knowledge from dual perspectives; on the other, he brings balance to his own existence and that is something no person can deny can another.

Bravo to the LA Times for posting this kind of story. In a world of selfishness, here is a group of people dedicating themselves to one another, to each other's humanity, to love and brotherhood. Men who've lived a hard life and have realized a deeper truth within themselves are taking time in their lives to rise above and help others. This is the greatest courage.

posted 3:24 AM on 12/30/09

This story is extremely moving. I live in Huntsville, Alabama (northern AL) and I had no idea that this was going on. This program is an amazing asset to help this community break out of the cycle of poverty, lack of education and violence. I once had the opportunity to work with inner city kids in St. Louis and saw the same things happening in their community, although not as severe. After working there for a week, one girl wrote me a letter, telling me that I was her best friend and that she would really miss me when I left. Any amount of time spent with these children conveying positive messages is time well spent. If this program only convinces one child to break out of the cycle, then it is truly a success.

posted 10:01 PM on 12/29/09

Very powerful story. I hope this inspires people to donate to the Homeboys organization.

liked the story
posted 3:38 PM on 12/29/09

to amy from alabama above...these comments are ridiculous...while there is A LOT of segregation in Alabama,yr statement that "whites and blacks will only sit together makes no sense".I m from Mobile and have lots of Black friends.i m a musician and we don t judge each other like that.I m sorry for yr experience but don t make everyone think that its so one sided,not everyone is racist and hateful.that isn t true.Alabama Village is the WORST neighborhood i have seen in the whole state.

todd mathers
posted 2:27 PM on 12/29/09

Who wrote this garbage? More 'doom & gloom' stories to make the populists feel warm and fuzzy inside. When are we going to see an in-depth behind the scenes look at white life in America- you know- the drugs, violence, incest, inbreeding, corruption, and debauchery that America LOVES to keep hidden behind that little 'white facade'. Probably won't happen since like the 'Wizard of Oz' the truth is a little different than reality...but in the meanwhile some empty writer trying to preserve their job security pens another "they're bad we're good ghetto world" soliloquy....

posted 1:24 PM on 12/29/09

I am a firm believer that faithhopeLovewins. However for the result to come about we all have to be proactive. Proactively pressing-in with tremendous faith that today's efforts will make tomorrow better. Proactive in the expressing of our hopes and dreams for tomorrow. And proactively loving the world around us - right now. Then and only then, will the world get the win it needs.

Bravo to the LA Homeboys and Light of the Village for being proactive to change just one little corner of our global neighborhood.

Mat Marquez
posted 12:57 PM on 12/29/09

Thanks to the Times for posting a story like this. As you can see by the number of comments posted, these are the relevant stories we need to hear more about and that can actually bring awareness to others' plights who are less fortunate than ourselves. I think Homeboy Industries is a great program, and at least they are trying to do something. I first heard about them in a Criminology course I was taking, and am glad to hear that they are still in business in the community, making a difference.

posted 12:11 PM on 12/29/09

Thank you LA Times for this great article and video. I have worked in the Juvenile Correctional system for 24 years and I have to say, Father Boyle along with Homeboy Industries has touched many lives. For those of us who work with the many children who suffer due to gang violence, poverty, domestic violence and parents give just a few, Homeboy Industries has stepped into an area that most people are afraid to open thier eyes and see the reality. Keep up the good work Homeboy Industries. :)

posted 11:44 AM on 12/29/09

With all due respect to all post contributors, this is what it is. Who cares how it got this way. Hopeless people are without hope regardless of how it happens. Also shame on us, if we try to somehow slip this to the government for their intervention. We all have a duty, an investment to make in our communities, personally. They don't need the government and it's programs, they need you and me to prove to them that they matter enough for us to care. Money can't solve 99% of the problems in the world today, but you and I can. Homeboy industries keep walking it out- Kudos

posted 10:08 AM on 12/29/09

This was very moving and touched me deeply. I am not naive but stories like this get so little national attention that for the majority of white America, if we don't see it, it must not exist. This is a point well taken and the media deserves credit for undertaking it. Now if we could only get the national media to focus on this more and get the government to respond more directly, perhaps 10 years from now it will be about the success these children have had in turning their lives around and becoming productive members of our society.

Bob L
posted 7:16 AM on 12/29/09

Don, you may be right about the irresponsabilities certain people make, but don't be quick to judge. A lot of these people grew up into this and know of nothing else to do. Yes, it may be ignorance, but also keep in mind that evryone's personal situation, has a lot to do with it. If your parents were crackheads, what will become of you? what would you know to do with yourself? If you were raised in the foster care system, how would your mentality differ from someone raised with their immediate family?
Whatever..... I grew up in neighborhood infested with crime, drugs, and yes, people buying too may god dam things they really shouldn't, at one point I participated in all of the above. I was dumb enough to succumb to whatever everyone else was doing. I'm glad that didn't last too long.
Anyway, good job Homeboys - Keep up the good work!

posted 1:38 AM on 12/29/09

It is important to understand exactly how Prichard got to where it is. From its founding in 1925 until 1967 or so, Prichard, a rough industrial suburb of Mobile with striking similarities to East St. Louis, was a predominantly-white, poor hotbed of the Ku Klux Klan. Blacks lived primarily in Africatown, near Mobile Bay, in a northwestern neighborhood called Harlem, and in Toulminville, an area split between Mobile and Prichard. As Blacks began to move into other areas of Prichard, the white city officials responded by annexing further and further to the west and northwest, making Prichard a truly huge city in area, although most of this land was rural in feel. These annexations, although they kept a white majority in Prichard, also increased the city's indebtedness. Blacks and remaining white residents united to elect Algernon J. Cooper as the city's first Black mayor in 1972, but the city was near bankruptcy before the election, and that fact had helped him garner white support against the incumbent. However, the infamous Alabama Village project (the first to be built in Prichard, I understand) was literally formed by bringing in old Army barracks from a military base and arranging them where they are currently located. It was a stopgap measure by the old-guard white regime of the 1960's. After a Black mayor was elected, the predictable happened. Many whites didn't wait to see if Mayor Cooper would succeed. He was Black, and they moved away quickly. Prichard had few rich or liberal whites, and most of the whites in the city were the ones who had turned out for George Wallace rallies throughout the 1960's. They are the same ones who now live in Mobile, Saraland and Chickasaw and complain on and on about how Blacks "ruined"their old hometown which was bankrupt when it was still white-run!

John Shaw
posted 6:31 PM on 12/28/09

The only ingredients necessary to have these exact results in any other city in America are 1. Apathy 2. Ignorance 3. Hopelessness. Take a look at the University of Alabama where they pay a man almost eight million dollars a year just to coach football? The irony is that many of the players who excell in sports are kids from horribly violent neighborhoods. The truth is that many parents fail to prepare themselves to become parents therefore they have children who are learning from people who only know what they know? Forget about race no matter who you are once you lose hope your life and the lives of everyone you encounter no longer matters. These small rural towns were dependent on the factories that no longer exist; the parents have to do what every other generation before them was forced to do relocate. This small community is an example of what happens when there are no jobs, a sub-standard educational syatem and people with little on no formal education. This problem has nothing to do with race. Poverty will break the average persons will; I grew up extremely poor in New Orleans but it was instilled in me at an early age that the only way out of the cycle of poverty was for me to get a good education and to always maintain a positive attitude. I do not know if my grandmother believe everything should told me that I could do; but the important thing is that she made me believe! This is a wonderfully touching story thanks and Happy New Year.

Anthony Smith, Sr.
posted 2:07 PM on 12/28/09

Powerful stuff. I am curious to know what happens to the girls in these poor rural communities and in this gang culture? There's barely any sign or sighting of girls and women here.

posted 12:59 PM on 12/27/09

This piece has touched me to move and take action and donate.Continue the hard work it is not going unnoticed..1 child will turn into 2 and so on. God Bless!!!

posted 12:17 PM on 12/27/09

Fige is stupid. There is no such thing as a policy to destroy Black people. Look at all the successful and rich Black people out there. I work with middle class Black people at my job. They have families and children and provide for them. No, these people in poverty are there because they weren't strong enough to think for themselves and climb out. All the young men in there could join the military and make something of themselves - just like lots of Blacks and Whites and Latinos and Asians in the poor community have done. The Army offers food, training, shelter, money, health care, and an education.

posted 9:23 AM on 12/25/09

I am a Probation Officer that (when I worked the gang unit) went to Father Greg for guidance. I pray that his health is good and that he continues his mission that God gave him. Human beings like Father "G" are out there, they just have to set aside the hate and step up to the plate. Keep it up Father Greg, we are rooting for you.

Steve "EME" Em
posted 4:00 PM on 12/23/09

This is by far, the most moving piece of journalism I have read in years.

The rural poverty in this country is truly frightening.

I cannot believe that this exists in my country.

Sad and poignant.

Has changed me completely.

posted 3:38 PM on 12/23/09

From some of the responses to the story, its quite clear the reason for failings of the black community. All these people blaming racism. Grow up people. There is only one race sanctioned for discrimination and that is the white race. The rest of you all have innititives, EEO diversity benifits and a myriad of laws in place to promote you at our expense. The failing in your communities is your own lack of responsibility to one another, yourselves, your communities. Put down your rap CDs, stop buying cars and clothes you cannot afford and practice modesty, responsibility, self reliance, like every other race. Even immigrants who cannot read, write or speak english out perform you on everything except crime. How can you blame that on racism?

posted 12:08 PM on 12/23/09

Tony is right. Fathers are pivotal. For too many years we have been told that Fathers are not necessary. Wrong, so very wrong. Fathers are the backbone of our society, at least they used to be. Boys gravitate to gangs because the gangs provide that father energy they so need and desire. We must find a way to elevate the role of fathers. They are not more necessary than mothers nor more important. It's just different. It's important.

posted 8:35 AM on 12/23/09

Homeboy is just blocks from where I used to work, they are simply amazing. To Taylor Lutz, join Teach For America. It's all about prevention, close the achievement gap in the under-served rural and urban areas.

Vanessa Garza
posted 3:24 PM on 12/22/09

This makes me happy. That's what America is about, not relying on the system or government, but taking up the time and effort to do things yourself.
Homeboy Ind. is a great cause and example of the original American attitude. Self-reliance, good will, and attainment of a well life provided by your own efforts and energy.
Keep doing the good work Homies...!!

Thomas J
posted 10:25 AM on 12/22/09

I grew up in the military. My pops was a 20 plus year guy in the military. I would go on to spend 20 plus in the same profession. Without my pops, who by no means was rich (he was an enlisted man) I'm sure I would have landed in state or federal prison. What I find lacking in all the comments posted here is no reference to fathers...none. What do you notice in all the visuals you say in this story: no fathers. I am not a rich man, nor am I a pastor, nor will you see me sitting in church next to you, I am divorced. However, one thing that I am, and will always be is a father. It's not hard; go to a musical event, a football game, cheerleader practice, be there to a father. If you have the manhood to make a baby, then be a MAN and take care of your kids. Nothing is more disgusting to me as a Black Man than to see young Black boys and girls with no father. We in the Black community have a 70% illigetimacy rate, and a 60% homicide rate and we are less than 13% of the total population of the US. That is horrible. If you want to support something, then support the National Fatherhood Initiative. President Obama and I agree on very little...but one thing we agree on whole heartedly is the need to be a father. Forget another program, or more money for this goofball liberal to work some a good father...and watch what happens.

posted 9:13 AM on 12/22/09

My problem? It's that I ask "How can people do nothing?" and then I do nothing.

Seeing people do something makes me change the question. "How can I do nothing?"

So, I'm led to this.
What can I do to help?

-Just a college kid.

Taylor Lutz
posted 1:29 AM on 12/21/09

Great story and venture. But, let's keep it real. The situation in this Alabama community and other communities is government policy to destroy Black and Brown people. And until we know and accept this fact, there is nothing that will stop this murder machine that is fueled, funded and cast by our own government. And to those who think this is conspiracy theory, what it is - is actually conspiracy analysis. Just research and follow the details.

Fige Bornu
posted 11:32 PM on 12/20/09

A comment. To express appreciation to all the people involved in creating (bringing at least a little hope) a better future in these communities.

It is a shame that billions of dollars are being spent in a lot of other stuff, but not much going on for these types of intervention and prevention programs.

Bless the homeboys from LA and from Alabama.

posted 11:09 PM on 12/20/09

I'm from North Alabama, and attend the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. In addition to taking part in service-learning projects in Alabama's Black Belt--a region north of Prichard, but nonetheless completely comparable--I write for the Opinions section of our newspaper, the Crimson White. I would like to say that I think this type of piece is the future of journalism. Well done, LA Times.

Will T.
posted 2:32 PM on 12/20/09

Outstanding. Talk about altrustic giving at its best. Keep making a difference!

Lee Shaw, Jr.
posted 10:11 AM on 12/20/09

Wow the Power of God!....God Bless you all for performing these tasks...I am speechless just absolutly speechless the Good in People and Power of Jesus!....

posted 8:05 AM on 12/20/09

If we want to help, we just need to contact Homeboy Industries. Without these programs we will not move ahead. The only way we can do this is by getting involved, donating money. These kids need us. Their is more cities like this one in our country. Please help.

Nora Ramirez
posted 9:10 AM on 12/19/09

I praise God for the work that Father G, Homeboy Industries and any person, agency, social worker, white blonde woman or whoever is putting their hand up to do to help anyone in need. It's up to ALL OF US to do our bit - without criticising and without judging. Just doing something to help somebody else will have a ripling effect. The impoverished child that you turn your back on today might be the gang member that rapes and kills your daughter in ten years time. It's not only about ensuring the safety of your loved ones - it's about loving those who need a purpose and a hope beyond the statistics. It's all of our responsbility. Let's not be people who took the time to air our opinions here but then enjoy our Christmas, plan for new year and forget about making a difference ourselves. God bless you all
ex- South African now living Down Under

Judy Marshall-Schutte
posted 8:59 PM on 12/18/09

I'm touched by this program. What can I do to help?

Luther Jones

Luther Jones
posted 1:48 PM on 12/18/09

Our country needs more programs, more people involved, more effort made to reach out and demonstrate how much can be accomplished by interventions such as this. The glamorization of the gang banger, the outlaw must be reversed. With enough positive role models and a switch from glorifying the "outlaw" image that attracts so many of the young, perhaps in another forty years, which is about the span of this societal degradation, we might, be able to affect the cultural mindset needed to bring our country and our youth back to a time that fewer and fewer of us can remember. A time when law, order, and a respect for our fellow man was the norm, not this "gangster" persona that so many of our young today idolize and seek to emulate. Already, a significant portion of this next generation has no idea, no frame of reference of any other lifestyle.

Gary L. Hammontree
posted 7:46 AM on 12/18/09

Humans; how do you define perfect? Someone said "Perfect is the enemy of good." And perfect, like art, like beauty, is subjective.

I commend the work of these people. Whether or not some or most of their members and pupils go back to the streets is in the end irrelevant. By saving one we save the world. Think of the dearest person to you, he/she could be that one for someone else.

There are more benefits that meet the eye, many more than those intended. Thanks to the LA Times for this inspiring piece, thanks to all those who work with these people.

For those who feel negatively about this, I invite you today to go out there and do some good. Act.

posted 11:57 AM on 12/17/09

Thank you Homeboy Industries. I will be contacting you all in an effort to donate money (and/or time) to your cause.

As someone that has lost 3 family members to murder in Alabama Village, your work is greatly appreciated.

God bless ya'll (spoken like a true Alabamian)!

RIP Darlene Rivers, Bill Davis Jr. and Lydia Reed.

posted 10:24 AM on 12/17/09

i think the work homeboy industries is doing is wonderful. it is a shame that in the united states that people are living in these conditions we have to do something to help them again thank GOD FOR HOMEBOY INDUSTRIES

jim martell
posted 7:23 AM on 12/17/09

Hello, This is a real good and honorable work these people are conducting. More people need to learn from these people and get up and make a change. I was once a gang member and received direction and a very productive and good member of the society. Not all people who are in gangs are lost causes most do what they do as they have no other way to get by no proper education nor training and nothing but despair they see all around them falling apart. The youth generally also are sensitive and need leaders and if they do not have good leaders who are productive it will only be the other way around. I am not black nor white nor Hispanic and this has nothing to do with a racial issue we are all humans. Only if our leaders realized a human is a human and not a label. I believe that day will come very soon and the world will be a very different place as it can only get better fortunately or can't get any worse. Economy being bad and recession is something poorer parts of the country and the world have known already this very well and lived with it, now rest of the world must also learn how to be that and learn equality. People who want earn more than they can spend and turn a blind eye to those who need it will never be happy. If we educate these kids properly they are in fact smarter than your nerds and kids who are scared, these kids coming from "hoods" have courage more courage than a soldier in war who went for college tuition. They are written off before they can do anything and this is the part of the society that will change the world if not we are in this ditch for a long haul people.

posted 2:57 PM on 12/16/09

selling stuff to raise funds for whatever cauase isn't the real solution. there are too many phony orgs doing this, and we've become skeptical. a real job involves MAKING stuff or delivering a service. the kids need to get educated to fill whatever jobs are available. then someone has to create those jobs. any volunteers?

posted 2:22 PM on 12/16/09

What really angers me is that the foundation to which created this perpetual systemic problem refused to admit the wrongs of racism. And begin to correct that wrong through truth and justice and stop racism. Additionally, I commend the Homeboys Industries, Inc. for attempting to do something, where the local and city government obviously are not doing anything, but increase police stats and funding and prison populations. I blame black leadership in Mobile, AL, because apparently the blacks in the community and surrounding community have failed to realize the truth about the impact of racism and actually develop long-range strategic plans to make change, because if they don't no one else will; Homeboy Industries can only do so much. Why is is that blacks has to have intervention from white people instead of coming up with their own intervention strategies even if they do not have the capital. Blacks should be ashamed of themselves for not standing up; leave it to black folks to always bend over and lay down instead doing for their own. Dr. Na'im Akbar, Dr. Frances Cress Welsing and other African scholars are right...

Where is the black leadership, ministries, scholars in Alabama? Why are the majority of black youth dying unnessarily? Why has the public school system abandoned them? Why has Alabama government abandoned them? I will tell you why, becuase of racism.

posted 2:15 PM on 12/16/09

I have seen this person, Luis Colosio, on the same bus that I take to go to work, in Downtown Los Angeles. I would noticed that that he would always get off in Chinatown and go across the street to the HomeBoy building.This guys looks tough and hard core, but I would have never known that he does this type of beautiful job. What a small world.

mark okos
posted 11:28 AM on 12/16/09

I see no difference between a white person and a black person everybody is a damn human

posted 7:09 AM on 12/16/09

I live in Alabama and there are places like this all over the state, not just Mobile. We are still segregated, but few people admit that. If you put white and black people in one room, they will only sit with each other. You also learn early one what part of town you do or dont' belong in and if you forget, the stares will send you back. My mother and I were refused service in a mall once because we weren't in "our" mall. Poverty is rampant in this state but no one does much because its not worth it to most folks. Everyone does for themselves here mostly. Its sad and not right but its true. But Pritchard is not an exception, there are places like this all over Alabama.

posted 12:46 PM on 12/15/09

If only i believed they really wanted to assist young black kids. Perhaps they should start by teaching their own to respect others.

posted 8:41 AM on 12/15/09

To LA resident: Your comment was really offensive and you should apologize. Victory Outreach doesn't have 50+ ex gang members selling candies. Victory Life does, however. By making false statements about Victory Outreach members you are also saying untrue things about Homeboys from Homeboy Industries. Both organizations serve many of the same people. Didn't you know that?

John Doe
posted 1:48 AM on 12/15/09

Thanks to Fr. Boyle and Homeboy Industries for their great work. Indeed, Prichard is a community with many problems some of which are being addressed by the Homeboys.

On the other hand, as a college professor, I led a research team of Spring Hill College (Jesuit College) students as we conducted over 500 in-person and phone interviews in the Bessemer Avenue Apartments public housing complex over a four year period as a part of a Hope VI revitalization project in Prichard, Alabama.

The Bessemer Avenue Apartments is a well-run public housing development managed by the Prichard Housing Authority where most of the residents reported high life satisfaction scores and general contentment. There were physical problems of flooding and streets in a poor state of repair.

The Bessemer Avenue complex has been rebuilt under a federal Hope VI grant. That part of Prichard now looks nice (two and three bedroom brick homes). Neither I nor my students felt any danger or threats while in the apartment complex or in our interviews witin the adjacent communty.

Again, great work Fr. Boyle and Homeboy Industries in Alabama Village. I did want to add a bit of perspective to say that not all of Prichard is as physically run-down, violent, or gang-infested as Alabama Village appears to be. Yes, the area is impoverished and crime rates are high. But there are also bright spots in Prichard where there is home ownership and where decent, law-abiding citizens reside.

Larry D. Hall, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, Spring Hill College, Mobile, AL

Larry D. Hall
posted 9:57 PM on 12/14/09

We spend money and take care of other countries while we’re IGNORING what’s going on in our own backyard. We have blinders and see in tunnel vision and get lost in other people’s misery. I give KUDOS to Homeboy Industries for giving a DAMN where the SYSTEM does NOT! Also I give KUDOS to LA Times for exposing and doing a story when these days I gave up reading the newspaper! // To those who gave negative comments remember his: “There are four things that you cannot recover in life: (1) The Stone.......after it’s thrown, (2) The Word...........after it’s said, (3) The Occasion......after it’s missed, and (4) The Time...... after it’s gone..”

posted 8:29 PM on 12/14/09

You know, some of you folks are so negative... You must get up on the wrong side of the bed every single day!

I am so happy to know that Homeboy is out there trying to turn things around for a few people and my thanks go out to them.

I have mentored adolescents through my local schools as an adult volunteer and enjoyed it throughly. Sometimes all a kid needs is to know that someone cares about them.

Presently, my wife and I are "Grand Parenting" some elementary aged kids, who's own parents succumbed to Meth addiction. Both boys are polite, smart and talented. The kind of children that we usually refer to as "Good kids" and much to good to let fall through the cracks. Therefore, we're making sure (Despite the fact that theyre in the Counties care.) that they have adequate clothing and shoes, that they have regular opportunities to be around caring, supportive adults, who will consistently be there for them, under all circumstances and we try to make sure that despite the things that have happened to them, that theyre ability to dream remains unbroken.

Yes, it costs us some money that we don't have much of and it definitely costs us some of our time but in the end, we are left to wonder who gets more out of this, the kids or us?

Get off of your computers and find a kid to mentor. The life you save may be your own!!

posted 5:43 PM on 12/14/09

No conservative Christian here...I wish I was wrong on what i posted earlier but I'm not. Its just sad and it really gets to me that some of these individuals hide behind this program and use it with no intentions of changing. I too used to have a different outlook on this organization but when i saw and heard first hand how their participants acted it was truely a big let down. If you have ever been at homeboy indus. you will see what I'm talking about its just another place for gang members to hang out and mingle with themselves talking about their hustles and what is going on with all the different gangs. I really thought the person I knew going there was going to get the help they needed but instead it through this person back in the mix of it all. Bottom line if you want to change this lifestyle then you have to get away from it all...Naive to think i said these are only a couple of success stories, heres a question I would like answered- How many have gone through their doors without any change and simply pick up where they left off?? I'm sure they won't report that here!

posted 12:27 PM on 12/14/09

God must be rejoycing to see the awesome work that you guys are doing w/his precious kids. Don't worry about the Naysayers-they'll always be wrong..can't helped themselves but to disagree and deny anything good. A true human being,is one that has the capacity to change.

It makes you wonder what the legislative representatives are doing on behalf of these people- if anything at all.
I hope that this piece will dispell some of the highly held 'Myths'that the term 'Third World' only refers to places outside of the US. I lived in the South and I can tell you that prichard is not alone. It would require a Marshall like plan to ameliorate the dire conditions that plague people mainly in the south, but also in other parts of the country.

posted 10:12 AM on 12/14/09

America - Take a look at your citizens ... we must take care of our citizens ... we must be our brothers keeper.


Frank Geffers
posted 1:05 AM on 12/14/09

were do i sign up

posted 10:32 PM on 12/13/09

anyone who doesn't see the good in Homeboy or this story in particular, is full of drivel to begin with. so who cares what any of the negative Nancy's have to say....Father G, Tin Tin, and everyone else that is doing good because of Homeboy can tell you the truth of the matter. keep it up, homies

Lou Stoole
posted 8:40 PM on 12/13/09

great to see how homeboy is making a difference not just in LA but in Alabama as well. Thanks to LATIMES for reporting this.

from the video i see homeboy acts like brothers to these people. That's what these people need-someone to care for them and to talk to them. You would be surprised how that conversation about life, goals in general can actually change a person' s life. A Chinese saying goes having a short conversation can change your life .

steve kuo
posted 8:24 PM on 12/13/09

Great work you're doing guys! Keep it up! May God bless you greatly!

Gordon Hanson
posted 7:38 PM on 12/13/09

This short film is a perfect example of how positive mentalities and role models can make a huge change is a community, whether its L.A. or Alabama. Everyone deserves a chance to live a happy and healthy life, thats all these kids a chance and a mentor. Great job Homeboy Industries.

posted 6:09 PM on 12/13/09

2 comments about this film:

1. I don't see "segregation" here. There are a lot of white kids and adults sharing this experience. Why do they have to use a racially charged word like "segregated"?

2. Where are the African-American adults helping these kids? I see white adults and older youth working with them, but no African-American teens or adults. Why is it only Hispanic and white people helping these kids?

posted 4:47 PM on 12/13/09

integration seems to greatly improved the condition of the Southern states

Farhan Jabbari
posted 3:26 PM on 12/13/09

Besides the fantastic story, this is one of the most well made videos I've ever seen online.

It's not only Thank You Homeboys but Thank You LATimes for presenting such a great story so well.

ken jacobsen
posted 2:42 PM on 12/13/09

L.Martinez, Is there a Conservative Christian here?
I thought the Savior said something about the Prodigal Son!!!
I wonder why his father rejoiced in seeing him return.
Joe Observer

posted 12:43 PM on 12/13/09

There is hope and the work being done has to be duplicated in every city that has these issues, we have to take responsibility for our communities and it's interesting to see that those who have walked the same path are helping those beginning on the path. Good work guys. Thanks LA Times for the story.

posted 10:31 AM on 12/13/09

They have money for War always for War, but when it comes to taking care of our people we rather let them die and live a miserable existence due to circumstances imposed by our financial system. $40,000 a year to incarcerate someone in California- in prison for a year,but they won't spend a dime to keep them out.

We live parallels but fail to recognize them. We have 68,000 troops in Afghanistan with the intention of sending 30,000 more at the cost of 1 million dollars each soldier per year to fight similarly poor people who lack the same opportunities that the people in Alabama, Los Angeles fail to receive, the only difference is here we run the largest Industrial Prison facilities in the world thinking it solves our problems.

posted 10:12 AM on 12/13/09

I lived and taught in South "Central" L.A. for four years. Relocated to Al (where I was born) to live and teach in '06. Birmingham is a WORLD different than the region featured here, but the core deficits are the same for the students I serve.

The kids down here revere Los Angeles for what it represents in terms of gang life. Regardless of what industry brings them here, I'm glad they had that up close and personal time with the LA Homeboys. It reduces the glamour of it all.

Some students in L.A. might benefit from being visited by gang members from Al. Kids need to know it's the timeworn story regardless of where you live. And the ending is often the same.

posted 10:09 AM on 12/13/09

Thank you Homeboys for sharing your own experience. Sharing your stories with those kids in Alabama was incredible. Thank you.

Allen Wilson
posted 11:26 PM on 12/12/09

Wow, the village, mobile, prichard, chickasaw are getting quite the reputation lately. I've heard the wal mart with the most stolen merchandise in the U.S. is here in Mobile, i've heard our murder rate is horrible, and alabama village? Well, I commend the homeboys for doing what they do...There's not a lot of people brave enough to do what they're doing in AL village. My mom used to teach school in Prichard, she loved it....but the stories she shared with me were always sad ones....thanks to the homeboys.

posted 8:09 PM on 12/12/09

Our drug prohibition is what keeps these gangs loaded with cash and guns.

Time to legalize drugs.

posted 4:07 PM on 12/12/09

I had the great opportunity of growing up with a mother and a father in the house, Dad working hard to being home an income and Mom raising the five of us. It breaks my heart to see such poverty in my own country. To the filmmakers, the Los Angeles Times, and to Homeboy Industries, I wish you all the best in your quest to help others. I know that my life was changed by mentors who came forward to help me when I needed it, and I applaud those who continue the tradition of mentorship and teaching, regardless of where they have come from or their own personal background.

All of us have a responsibility to help each other. Glad to see that support, help, and personal sacrifice is not dead in America. You go guys! Keep up the good work and hold your heads high. Seeing your effort and listening to your stories just made my day a little brighter. Thanks for sharing!

posted 1:51 PM on 12/12/09

Thank you LA Times for this story. It is refreshing to see stories of love, hope and change as opposed to the usual sensationalized crime stories in the media. Keep up the good work!

posted 1:17 PM on 12/12/09

Anyone with negative comments, please ask yourselves...can you do better? Can you influence anyone other than family?

Eric ElPocho
posted 1:06 AM on 12/12/09

I believe that children need positive role models that they can identify with. The Homeboys are attempting to fill this need. Too many children have no idea what it is like to have a good father. Children need to know that they matter, that someone cares what happens to them and that someone knows what their lives are like and loves them for who they are. They need to feel "part of", to belong to something greater than themselves. May God bless the work being done in Alabama.

Michele P
posted 8:50 PM on 12/11/09

God bless Father G and the Homeboy industries. I stumbled across this video and as a Black man ,was touched by the outreach of my Brown Brothers, to enlighted youngsters from another region and culture,about the perilous reality of gang life and violence. Regarding some of the negative comments about gang bangers hiding behind the program etc. In any organization there are going to be individuals that take advantage and secretly promote their own self agenda. Regardless, who are we to judge them? Because I have sinned, can I not ask forgiveness and do good? If even one at risk youth is redirected towards becoming a productive member of society, then it is all worth while.Remember that God works in misterious ways, which sometimes includes using those who have done much evil to lead us to a rightious path.

posted 5:59 PM on 12/11/09

For many of you on here to say that the truest form of admiration should come to those who got it right from the beginning... this is a fallacy as this implies a person cannot make a mistake and we all live in peaceful conditions.

The realization that one made mistakes and initiative to correct them is a two fold story: on one side, the person develops knowledge from dual perspectives; on the other, he brings balance to his own existence and that is something no person can deny can another.

The comments made about "homies" taking advantage of Father G and his services, and considering being audited for its practices - is fair-game in this discussion because, well, you are dealing with dynamic problems and all solutions being often offered are done so with a foresight brought on by seeing the best in people and working with them constantly because of a communal ideology.

We are products of our environment. If its good, then we're good, if not, then we can have serious flaws. If we can improve our lives and others, we stand a chance at improving environments because - and this is the best part - if it hasn't been done before chances are any and all efforts to improve humanity will yield progress.

Its not so much this is the right thing to, but its the smart thing to do... Well, i have to run, but i'll just say since these kinds of interventions have been a part of my life, I can say they have generally been multifaceted anyway. THat is to say, we expect nay sayers and those who doubt and those who cherish the work.

posted 2:40 AM on 12/11/09

The mark of a real teacher:
A man /woman who says they learn from their students.

posted 10:28 PM on 12/10/09

If it helps one child to turn their life around in a positive direction, it is all worth it. Hats off to Homeboy Industries!

Brian H
posted 8:18 PM on 12/10/09


posted 5:36 PM on 12/10/09

Its amazing how some fail o see the strides Homeboy Industries has accomplished. Working in an underserve community many of our youth have few options. Sometimes the easy way out does makes more sense Give the people the credit they deserve and get off your soapbox that claims " Liberal drivel". We do not all have the same access to basic tools like a quality education or options.

posted 3:04 PM on 12/10/09

This is ridiculous. I'm sick and tired of the truth about HomeBoy Industries not being reported. First of all why haven't they been audited. Because taxpayers will find out a lot of the money from our taxes that has been given to Homeboy is used to pay high priced lawyers to defend them in court. LAPD officers who work in their area have arrested many of these gang bangers who are supposed to be clean and not gang banging but still are. This organization is a joke in this city. Community members who live in Boyle Heights will tell you Father Boyle defends and coddles his gang bangers. LA Times doing this story will now lose more readers and subscriptions as you have in the past for glorifying what they do instead of the truth

posted 1:38 PM on 12/10/09

Doing good is always good. Doing nothing . . . is nothing. Fr. Greg and his supporters are trying to do something good. This should be supported. If people don't appreciate it - either those criticizing him or the "Homeboys' who 'take advantage' - that's their problem. Jesus 'went about everywhere, doing good to all men'. If you believe in God, in Jesus, that is what you should do . . . even if people rip you off, even if people end up crucifying you. We conquer evil with good, hate with love. That's the secret of faith, the power of love, that changes each heart . . . the whole world. God bless Fr. Greg and help all the Homeboys. Peace.

brother Joseph
posted 1:21 PM on 12/10/09


posted 1:05 PM on 12/10/09

It does look like a 3rd world country and that is sad to say. Its looks and feels like there is no hope, no sun, no dreams just trying to survive. What chances do those kids have in life. It's really sad to look and read of what they go through or live like. I would want to see it in person myself because its hard to believe that in the United States we have places like that. I wish those people the best and hopefully politicians improve that area we all deserve a chance in life.

posted 11:13 AM on 12/10/09

Mr. Walker casts stones at individuals who have found grace in their lives. He wants us to write stories about perfect people who have been doing right all their lives. The only problem is that we can't find a perfect human on the planet. We have all sinned and fallen short. Way to go Homeboys. You are doing good deeds.

Mike G
posted 11:11 AM on 12/10/09

Why are some of these people knocking around people that are trying change for the better. Never time to stop, Hats off Homeboy Industries great job . keep going.

posted 10:46 AM on 12/10/09

After knowing someone who was receiving services(actually employed there)with Homeboy Industries I got to see how many"homies" take advantage of Fr. Greg and this organization.this only shows a couple of ACTUAL success stories. It really is naive to think that having so many gang members together at the same place would actually prove to be productive, isn't this what they are trying to get away from??!!.It seems that most of the people there use this place as a coverup and are there as a last resort and eventually return to their lifestyles. The only true way to change is to do it yourself! These "homies" should not be applauded for finally getting right its something they should of done from the beginning!

posted 10:42 AM on 12/10/09

Great job Homeboy Industries.
It really dose take all of us to move this enormous problem within our communities to the top of the list of priorities faced by our leadership in Los Angeles and Prichard, Alabama.
Oh by the way; I will have a bit more of that
"Libreal Drivel" and a large portion of "political action" please.

Fredrick Christian
posted 10:34 AM on 12/10/09

In a word- Homeboys rock! The voice of experience and personal change is one of the most powerful gifts that a person can give and receive and they are doing it!

David Greenfield
posted 9:40 AM on 12/10/09

Right on Homeboys! Keep up the good works. You are an immensely important part of humanity.

posted 9:39 AM on 12/10/09

What a waste of informative reading. Here's a novel concept the Times should a story on the kids that have been doing the right thing since birth. Please stop subjecting your readers to some losers who have created turmoil all their lives and now profess to be good citizens. Do stories on the innocent people that they (homeboys) may have maimed, stolen from, assaulted etc. Only then will it be worth reading.

J. L. Walker
posted 9:38 AM on 12/10/09

Liberal drivel!
posted 3:02 AM on 12/10/09


And the heck are you doing to address youth violence that seems to be affecting young people from all backgrounds?!!!

posted 9:37 AM on 12/10/09

HomeBoy is a complete failure; it's easy for them to have one or two "SUCCESS STORIES" to hide the REAL TRUTH that it's just a cover-up for the 12-Step Religious Cult's AA/NA & Evangelical Christianity Insanity agenda.

posted 8:46 AM on 12/10/09

Liberal drivel!

posted 3:02 AM on 12/10/09

very touching story here. i will share with my students. thank you.

posted 2:40 AM on 12/10/09

Way to go HOMEBOYS INDUSTRIES!!! I've worked with somebody that does gang intervention. I learned how gangs work. I was able to see the need for these kids to have a positive role model in their lives. I never joined a gang, but had friends that did and died. We need to teach our kids to make the right choices and not to emulate the messages given by those gangsta rap or hip hop artists that glamorize gang violence.

posted 12:52 AM on 12/10/09

i hope the homeboys return to L.A. with a message for the latino gangbangers there: if you're whining about your impoverished barrio, your lack of opportunities come to Pritchard, AL and check out the real deal. Most gangbangers in L.A. are spoiled wussies compared to those kids in Pritchard.

posted 12:24 AM on 12/10/09


I agree with you, You don't have to be a ex gang member to inspire someone. Can we all define ex gang member? Haven't we all been a member of some type of gang? girls or boy clubs, the in friend click of junior high etc. What it boils down to is us as humans working together to inspire someone in our lives. I also work some of the hardest streets I am white and blond and i find these people that everyone calls dangerous are actually really good people. Some are stuck trying to get out and others just get caught in the system, Because hey money buys freedom. Alot of these familys are from broken homes, drugs have destroyed many lives, and the lack of education is a huge problem. I sleep well everynight knowing i've changed lives for the better. And we all have the power to change lives. So i want to say thankyou to everyone in a gang or not a gang for trying to make a difference.

Elishia Windfohr

Elishia Windfohr
posted 11:44 PM on 12/09/09

Father Greg Boyle is a modern day saint. God bless him and his work at Homeboy Industries!

posted 10:35 PM on 12/09/09

I was raised in Prichard, Alabama. I had realative that stayed in Alabama Village in the 80's and 90's. I went to Vigor High School thats right up the corner from the village. This is truly sad and the city can do more. But its sad that the city and surrounding cities could care less. It take a village to raise a child but I really feel my city has failed these kids. And our mayor is black. I thank God for the LA Homeoboys. These kids need to hear the truth. Its sad when people from other states must do what our state should do. Shame on Mobile, Alabama. Shame on me also. I don't have much and really dont know what I could do to help. But this brings tears to my eyes.

tasha smith
posted 4:31 PM on 12/09/09

Wonderful story. I lived in Northeast LA all my life, and really wondered why money is being given to ex gangbangers when there was nothing to show for the efforts. Homeboy Industries to me is the only proven success. It irks me when I see a 50+ ex gangbanger selling candy when the profit is only going into the pockets of the creator of Victory Outreach rather than learning a useful skill. I hope the mayor sees this video and starts putting funds toward Homeboy Industries rather than all the other failed projects out there. God bless all of you at Homeboy!

LA Resident
posted 9:42 AM on 12/09/09

I'm really inspired by the work being done by the LA Homeboys/Alabama Homeboys, I would also like to see this work expanded to other cities and states.

Jordan Lara
posted 11:26 AM on 12/08/09

That was a really inspiring video! Im glad people in my community (LA) are trying to make a difference. Its also amazing to see how the program grows each time! Keep up the great work guys.

posted 8:30 PM on 12/07/09

In response to lbgrrl's comment. I never said you had to be an ex-gang member to work with kids who live in communities with high rates of violence. Father Greg Boyle (who is white) or Aquil Basheer were never gang members, which should have noted previously.

What I should have said is that these agencies, who have more than 20 years experience working with high-risk youth, have more credibility than any other organization to work on this issue (no offense to you, but public agencies have caused more harm than good in communities that have neglected for decades). Yet we criticize them or, like the city of Los Angeles, refuse to provide support to them when this safety net needs it the most. The city, specifically the mayor, does all it can to save the Museum of Contemporary Art, but it won't spend the money to support the work that doesn't have the City of Los Angeles stamped on it. Shame on the mayor for treating gang prevention and intervention as his political football to make himself look good during his next election.

Leslie Croom
posted 7:35 PM on 12/07/09

I think everyone deserves a second chance in life. We need people that have lived a tough life and broken the law to do this type of service, it makes our lifes that more precious. We don't have it as bad as we think. Keep up the good work homeboy industries..

posted 7:21 PM on 12/07/09

I disagree with Leslie Croom. You dont have to be an ex-gang member to make a difference in the neighborhoods of South LA. You need only to care. You can be a Big Brother or Big Sister to a young person who lacks adult guidance in their lives. You can offer a high school student a chance to spend time in your business, letting them learn what the work world is like. There are so many things you can do, and leaving it to others is not an option. You might not solve the gang problem, but you might well deter another young person from joining one.

I am a Clinical Social Worker and I work in these communities. Dangerous? I've been there three years, and I am still here. Credibility hasnt been an issue--I am a white woman but I treat these kids with respect and they pretty much respond with the same to me. Funny how that works!

Good for Homeboy Industries--we have had them at our agency and they are wonderful. I am glad to see them making a difference in the forgotten rural areas as well.

posted 5:11 PM on 12/07/09

The HomeBoy Industries concept should be
expanded to other communities. There are hundreds of thousands of at-risk youth who could benefit from this kind of program.

Terry White
posted 4:34 PM on 12/07/09

Very powerful. We reside in the "3rd World" and while the poverty is comparable if not worse here in Latin America, you feel at times communities like these are forgotten in the U.S., or rather would like to be forgotten as relics of a time already passed. The reality suggests otherwise and while 3rd World countries need all the help they can get from the U.S. and other developed nations, let's not forget our own backyards as well.

Peter Frerichs

Peter Frerichs
posted 3:56 PM on 12/07/09

good work homboy industry , keep up the good work hopefully, the poverty,viloence, get more exposure in all communitys ,to make a change ,more funds and resources are needed ,GOD BLESS

Johnny Hernandez
posted 3:15 PM on 12/07/09

This should be a documentary and broadcast where all children/adults that are doing well financially and have a nice place to live can see how these children are living. Then maybe many of our spiritual conscious will be awaken and we will have a mind to start helping each other with God's help. This is what God meant for us to do. We must pray as well as take action and show others that we care, because we have become cold hearted as a nation and so many crimes are being committed against children now.

Shirley Frierson
posted 1:54 PM on 12/07/09

Agustin, Luis and LA Homeboys are doing a beautiful job! Thank you for making this world a better place.

Claudia Portillo
posted 11:09 AM on 12/07/09

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the city is home to nearly 400 gangs and 41,000 active gang members. Furthermore, homicide is the leading cause of death for Latino and African-American young males, ages 12-24, in Los Angeles.

Yet who has the real credibility to work with these young people? It's neither me or you. Rather it's folks like Homeboy Industries or Aquil Basheer's PCITI program in South Los Angeles that seeks to promote peace by by providing conflict resolution training, mentoring, and gang violence prevention and intervention programming. Both organizations also provide intervention at the neighborhood level by proactive peacemaking -- establishing “cease-fire” agreements, quelling rumors that fan the flames of gang violence, and mediating conflicts between rival gangs before they escalate.

Before you throw stones, please do me a favor and take time to visit these communities (East Los Angeles, Watts housing developments, etc.) with high rates of violence. I'm pretty the answer will be, "no," because the communities are not safe. Yet both Homeboy and PCITI have not used this an excuse to do something.

Leslie Croom
Los Angeles

Leslie Croom
posted 9:39 AM on 12/07/09

BRAVO!!! Homeboys Industries!!! Thank you for supporting communities often overlooked by the media.

posted 9:22 AM on 12/07/09

Bravo to the LA Times for posting this kind of story. In a world of selfishness, here is a group of people dedicating themselves to one another, to each other's humanity, to love and brotherhood. Men who've lived a hard life and have realized a deeper truth within themselves are taking time in their lives to rise above and help others. This is the greatest courage. This is the greatest love.

John Karis
posted 7:48 AM on 12/07/09

Great story. This is put together so well. Thanks for doing the story.

Odell Mitchell Jr.
posted 7:43 AM on 12/07/09

As a supporter and the filmmaker who made "Father G and the Homeboys"-Homeboy Industries is a light in the darkness to thousands of youth in LA .

John Bohm
posted 7:25 AM on 12/07/09

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