Our Executive Director, Roy Barker was interviewed by Brother Milford as part of the Black History Month Programming on KMOJ 89.9 FM Radio Station.
was a hustler, a dope dealer and a con man on Chicago's South Side for 27 years.
was arrested for a murder he
sat in lockup for a year before he
was acquitted at trial.
In that year, he
found God and started the long process of learning to love himself and then to love others.
"I think I'm a person who's worthy of love now," Barker
said of his
new life that began after he
moved to Minnesota in the summer of 1995.
"I don't think I was worthy of love then."
Barker plans to spread that love now that he
has been picked to be executive director of Ujamaa Place
, a nonprofit that organizers hope to open on gang-neutral turf in St. Paul by fall.
, 57, grew up in the housing projects on the South Side of Chicago.
was the oldest of 11 kids and had to grow up quickly.
"As an adolescent having adult responsibilities, I also thought I had adult liberties," he
was running cons by the time he
was 10, selling drugs by the time he
As an adult, he
People crossed the street when they saw him coming.
All that changed while he
was in jail, he
mother became ill and, on her
deathbed, made him promise not to hurt another person.
"You can't sell drugs without hurting someone," Barker
"That's why I had to stop.
I loved my mama more than anybody else in life.
believed in me, even though I was this pretty bad guy, a pretty violent person.
Mama never stopped believing in me."
After moving to Minnesota, Barker eventually found Twin Cities Rise, a life skills and job training program, spearheaded by Svrluga, a decade or more ago.
Barker, who's now working on his master's degree at Bethel University, will impart the wisdom he's learned over a lifetime to the men who find their way to Ujamaa Place.
I am proud to announce the appointment of two outstanding men to lead Ujamaa Place
through its early growth and development: Chief John Harrington Rt. and Mr. Roy Barker
has accepted the position of Executive Director of Ujamaa Place
This position will focus on refining the Ujamaa Place
curriculum; hiring, training, and supervising Coaches and other staff for the program; as well as directly working with Ujamaa Place clients.
Prior to joining Ujamaa Place, Mr. Barker served as Director of Special Projects for Twin Cities RISE!, and has significant experience working with the population Ujamaa Place will be serving (young African American men primarily between the ages of 16 and 28).