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 paved the way.
“When I found out that I like to work with people, my whole world opened up”
Below is an excerpt from Nate G.’s interview with Kenneth Bell, who worked for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation, and now serves as Vice President of the Duarte Unified School District Board of Education.
NG: What was your best memory growing up in LA?
KB: Coming to Manual Arts High School. Even if I was sick, I got up and came to school. This is where the girls were, this is where athletics were, this is the community I considered–even today there’s alumni that still stay in touch. This is one of the richest experiences I’ve ever had in my whole life. Matter of fact, the wife I’m married to–we’ll be celebrating our fiftieth wedding anniversary this year–I met her here. Summer school.
NG: What was your worst memory?
KB: There were some neighborhood gangs–but I wasn’t in the gang!… There was a guy who was one of the gang members. I don’t know what happened, but he kind of said something to me and I felt like I was disrespected, and this was right before school started. He wanted to fight. I fired up on the dude, hit him, knocked him down. He got all his gang member dudes to get me.
There was a coach, I guess he heard about it. He ended up pulling me in near the end of school, and he said, “I heard you was in a fight. I’m gon’ let you go home early [so you won’t get beat up after school].” I could have kissed that dude.
NG: What advice would you share with a young Toiler about the importance of hard work and giving back?
KB: Start visualizing yourself outside of high school and college. What would you like to do, what would you like to see? Don’t just stay stuck in that little time zone. Make your dreams realistic. Don’t say, “I’m gonna be a rapper”–I’m not saying rapping is bad, but…pull out a book or magazine that has the top ten songs or rappers in the last five to ten years and see where those top ten people are today. So it’s important to be serious about what you do, because the world is serious, life is serious.
NG: Between your two roles in law enforcement, where do you feel you left more of an impact and in what ways?
KB: Thirty-six years in the police, I worked in jails, so I had to learn how to communicate….. You know how I was telling you to find something you like? When I found out that I like to work with people, my whole world opened up…. I teach cadettes in classes and it’s amazing. I’d almost do it for free! I don’t wanna tell them that or else they’d quit paying me! I love it, I love it!
About the Author
Nate G. was born in Lancaster, California, but spent most of his childhood in Compton. Nate’s journey is marked by struggle and perseverance. He values staying on track in life, acting as a leader, and being independent.
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.
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