My name is Tu’Morrow Howard. I am 12 years old, and I live with my grandmother, Shannon Rainey. She is the President of the Residents of Gordon Plaza. Gordon Plaza is a black neighborhood that is fighting the city. They are asking for a fully funded relocation. We live on top of a toxic landfill that has toxic soil. Because the soil is not safe, the drinking water is not safe. People are dying from cancer because of the contamination. This event I have witnessed in my neighborhood has inspired me.

There are family members whose words and actions have touched my life. My grandmother has lived in Gordon Plaza for more than 30 years. My grandmother said she was excited about the opportunity to own her own house. No one told her that the land was contaminated. I’ve grown up watching my grandmother fight for relocation. At first I didn’t know what was going on, but as I’ve gotten older, I realized she is fighting to save lives in our community. She is fighting to save her life and my life.

There are ideas that have shaped the way I think about the world today. I watched my grandmother on national tv! It took me by surprise to hear how the producer of Queen Sugar recognized what my grandmother is doing. They had a shout out to my grandmother on the last series of Queen Sugar. This shows me that what my grandmother is doing is inspiring people.

Working hard in our community can make a change in the world.

When I watch my grandmother fight for relocation, it makes me feel proud. She is making a change, and what she is doing is right. I have seen our story in news articles, in artwork in museums, on signs at protests, on t-shirts, and on television. In the future I hope that we finally get a fully funded relocation. When I think about my future, I think of the strong women who have come before me. My role as a changemaker is to grow up and be an architect. I will build homes and structures on lands that are safe. I will honor my grandmother’s work by not giving up.

Respectfully submitted to The Historic New Orleans Collection Student Essay Contest by Tu’Morrow Howard 6th grade, Bricolage Academy

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