MILWAUKEE — Amondo Duckworth will be the first person to admit that he did bad things in his life.
“I was gang banging, selling drugs, robbing - you name it, I was apart of it."
As he said, Amondo contributed to the destruction of the city. People tried to get him to change, but he didn't listen. Eventually, his actions caught up to him.
“I was convicted of two armed robberies and possession of a firearm by a felon," he said. "I ended up getting sentenced up to 30 years in prison."
That was life changing for him. Eventually, he got out after 12 and 1/2 years once he appealed his sentence in 2017. Since then, Amondo has become a new man.
“So when you ask me who I am, I tell people I am change.”
He has dedicated himself to the community. He does youth mentoring, violence intervention and prevention, food drives, and organizes community clean-ups. On Feb. 17, he went around his Rufus King neighborhood picking up trash. Piece by piece, him, his wife, and former mayoral candidate Michael Sampson bent down and picked up trash on a cold February day. In just under an hour, seven large trash bags were filled with garbage. He even found one hypodermic needle with an unknown substance still inside of it.
“If I reach one person and that person reaches another, and that just spreads," he said.
It's all about starting a chain reaction of good deeds that will create the change he hopes for his community. Day-in and day-out, Amondo is putting in the work to build the community he wishes for.
“Every day since I’ve been home, every day no matter the weather, no matter the what, I’m out here.”
His family has recognized that Amondo truly is a new person, and it's not just talk.
With tears in his eyes and a shaky voice, he said, “I’m real emotional about change because - I just lost my auntie. I have a funeral to go to on Saturday. And she always told me ‘nephew you need to change. You need to get right.’ And I was so glad when she said, ‘nephew you doing it.’”
It's all about accountability, whether it's for serious crimes or something minor like littering. Now, as Amondo’s family told him he needed to change, he is doing the same for his son.
“That means if my son is committing crimes, I have to be willing to turn my son in.”
Which is what he did.
“How I can say I’m about change if I’m letting my son do the stuff that I’m preaching against?”
He turned his son in, who is now in prison. That wasn’t easy for him to do.
"That hurt me to my core."
But that is how committed Amondo is to restoring the community and rejecting his past life.
"I can’t allow it. I can’t keep living by a street code when I'm trying to do for the community."
But not everyone has to do something major like turning in a family member to the police. The domino effect of positive change starts small. All you have to do is bend down and pick up a piece of garbage.
You can help Amondo on his journey to help improve the community. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is hosting a shoe drive for the homeless that runs until March 21st.