RAISE A VOICE: Martel’s “Elder Patricia”

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826LA’s annual Young Authors’ Book Project engages students at one high school in every aspect of writing, editing, and publishing. In Through the Same Halls: Journeys of Elders Born and Raised in South Central and Beyond, students from the 826LA Writers’ Room at Manual Arts High School interviewed and wrote about people who shaped their families and communities.


“She used to tell me stories”

– from “Elder Patricia” by Martel M.

My grandmother Patricia always used to take me to the park where we used to go on the swings and swing back and forth. We also used to watch people play basketball on the court, and she used to tell me stories. The stories were about her life. When she was young, it was hard for her growing up. She had to struggle because her parents didn’t have money. Also, she used to tell me to stay in school and graduate high school, and be something in life because I could do anything I put my mind to.

When my grandmother came to South Central in the 1980s, she lived on 56th and Central. There was a lot of stuff going on in that neighborhood. People were on drugs and people would just hang out and not go to school. Many were catching diseases and passing it to their kids. My grandmother took care of all her kids–she was a good mother.

My name is Martel M. I grew up in South Central Los Angeles and have lived in Los Angeles my whole life. I’m seventeen years old and still in high school. My life is challenging and sometimes difficult. When I’m in school, it gets hard sometimes, especially in math class. It is also hard in my Spanish class because I don’t understand what the teacher is saying. Every test takes me a long time to finish because it is hard, but I maintain and get through the hard part. Outside of school I like to play football. When I play football, it sometimes gets hard and challenging. I want to quit, but if I quit I won’t get better.

It’s either you go hard or you go home. My grandmother didn’t really have challenges in high school, but she did in college. She told me college isn’t easy, so she told me to always stay focused and keep your grades up, and study, study, study before every test. She even said she wants me to be like her and get a degree and a good job that pays a lot, because hard work pays off, so always grind. Also she said, “Martel, you will not accept failure because success is free.” My grandmother was hard on me about respect. I respect people.

About the Author

Martel M. was born and raised in Los Angeles. His family has lived in South Central since the eighties. Outside of class, Martel plays football. He finds football challenging at times, along with math class, but he perseveres and maintains to get through the hard parts of the day.

The views expressed in this book are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of 826LA. We support student publishing and are thrilled you are reading this text. Purchase Through the Same Halls in stores and online at the Time Travel Mart here.

Help students like Martel gain the tools they need to write their futures: Support 826LA’s free writing and tutoring programs for students in under-resourced communities. Donate today, and amplify the voices of tomorrow.

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