Worth a Million Words

As a teenager, Delonte Williams wasn't headed down what one might call the right path. He had, he said, an "I don't care" attitude.

"I was willing to put myself in a bad situation," he said. "I was exposed to hurt and I never found anyone who taught me how to deal with it." 

Expelled from his first high school, Delonte re-enrolled at Luke C. Moore High School. It was there that he first encountered Critical Exposure. It was through the program that Delonte said he felt respected for the first time.

"They gave me a chance to share my pain rather than telling me what they think is right," he said. "In Critical Exposure, I felt like I would be accepted no matter what I said." 

Through conversations about leadership and advocacy, Delonte learned about right and wrong, and about systems of power. He also learned about the power of a photograph. 

"I didn't think about how much meaning (a photo) had until I thought about using one for change," he said. "A picture is probably worth more than a thousand words. Maybe a million."

"I live in a SE neighborhood called 37th. There is a view near my house that shows town houses that clearly differ from the houses in my neighborhood. They are bigger, more expensive and isn't as lively as the neighborhood I live in. I don't ever see anyone in the other neighborhood but I see a lot of cars so I know it's occupied. It's like they watch us while we watch them, except they probably see us more than we see them." - Delonte Williams

"I live in a SE neighborhood called 37th. There is a view near my house that shows town houses that clearly differ from the houses in my neighborhood. They are bigger, more expensive and isn't as lively as the neighborhood I live in. I don't ever see anyone in the other neighborhood but I see a lot of cars so I know it's occupied. It's like they watch us while we watch them, except they probably see us more than we see them." - Delonte Williams

Today, Delonte, now 21, is a facilitator for Critical Exposure. He received his high school diploma in 2013. He leads students only a few years younger than himself, taking them through the process of planning projects, and identifying and tackling issues. He wants to give them the same self-confidence he gained.

"I want them to understand the power of youth voices. I believe young people have a very strong voice. I think they can make history. I want to encourage them." 

And what about? What does Delonte believe the future holds for him?

"Hopefully a changed world."

 

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