Through Our Eyes – 11/29/17

Best of the best:

Public Information Officer Timothy Gray of the WKU Police Department grew up in the south side of Nashville, TN. Gray has lived in Bowling Green since 2004, and after previously working on a joint terrorism task force with the FBI, described his current position as unexpected. WKUPD needed someone who was connected and aimed to move in a new community-based direction. Gray’s passions lie in race relations and breaking down the barriers of race. “People fear what they don’t understand,” Gray said. “We wanted to create an atmosphere that was transparent and honest.” Gray values the power of respecting people, and getting to know the community he serves. He acknowledges that there is a level of distrust with the Police Department and certain minority groups in the community. “There are some folks wearing this uniform that shouldn’t be, but those are the few,” Gray said. “Seek first to understand, then be understood.” He is passionate about asking tough questions and seeing what the Police Department can be doing better. “We are servants. That’s who we are, that’s what we do.”|Lydia Schweickart

Honorable mention:

Kicker Ryan Nuss #37 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers celebrates after scoring the game-winning field goal against Middle Tennessee at L.T. Smith Stadium on November 17, 2017, in Bowling Green, Kentucky.|Shaban Athuman

Jerry Ayers, 75, relaxes outside of Teresa’s Restaurant in Bowling Green, KY on the back of his 1987 Ford Wrangler. “My first car I bought was a 1957 Ford. I kept that car until her wheels fell off. After three engines and thirteen thousand dollars later I had to let her go. I’ve had this sweetie Wrangler here for fifteen years and she still has her original engine. She breaks down, but this Ford Wrangler is a easy fix.” Ayers said.|Michael Blackshire

WKU volleyball team beats North Texas to win the C-USA Volleyball Championship in E.A. Diddle Arena on Sunday, Nov 19, 2017.|Silas Walker

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Undocumented, Unafraid

Undocumented, Unafraid

Video produced by Nick Wagner

Diana Lopez is familiar with the non-English speaking courtroom in Nashville. She’s been there twice before to settle two different charges of driving without a license. But circumstances were different on May 4. As an undocumented immigrant in the era of deportation-happy President Donald Trump, stress levels surged when Lopez heard that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were at the courthouse during the days leading up to her appearance. Lopez plans to fight back, no matter if it’s from inside a jail cell, or on the streets of the United States.

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Summer’s Solstice

Summer’s Solstice

Human trafficking survivor empowers women with a grassroots Christian ministry

 BY SAWYER SMITH

Summer Dickerson, 38-year-old from Louisville, Kentucky, is a human trafficking survivor and former prostitute. Within two years of initiating recovery from her old lifestyle, Summer accepted Christianity and founded a ministry to empower women caught in similar cycles. Her relationships with her husband and 11 children have improved drastically since her personal transformation. Her husband identifies as a former pimp, and their marriage requires daily sacrifice to overcome battles with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that she still faces today. She includes each of her children in her ministry work in order to demonstrate her healthy changes to them.

Soon after committing to Christianity, Summer started a Bible study for sex trafficking victims. She invites women from clubs and bars around Louisville to meet weekly for counsel and secure friendship. Additionally, she welcomes women in more desperate need to live with her and her family in their home. In summer of 2017, she completed renovations for a transitional home for them as well. Here they receive mentorship and community in exchange for maintaining strict rules for recovery. On a national scale, Summer connects a community of survivors called the “Sisterhood.” To date, she has saved and transformed many of her “sisters'” lives and fervently continues to do so.

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Through Our Eyes – 11/14/17

Best of the best:

My grandpaÕs leathered skin and soft eyes are brighter than most and have seen more sorrow. They’ve seen twelve presidents, a world war that took his father away, a civil rights movement, the stoplight in town be put up then taken back down again when there was no longer a need for it. His hands have helped give birth to hundreds of calves and have carried both his parentsÕ caskets. Now, at 72, with three children and seven grandchildren all spread across the country, the future of his land is uncertain. He reckons it isnÕt time to worry yet. He reckons heÕll just work this land till he dies. He reckons they’ll be buried together. |Skylar Ballard

Honorable mentions:

NASHVILLE, TN – NOVEMBER 12: Running back Derrick Henry #22 of the Tennessee Titans carries the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals at Nissan Stadium on November 12, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. | Shaban Athuman

“I have memories from back at home and putting them together I could tell the difference and Up to now I can remember things from there to here,” Mohamed muketar speaks of the culture difference since moving to the United States from a refugee camp in Nairobi, Kenya. In 2004 his family moved to the United States in search for a better life. | Shaban Athuman 

From left, Judy Wilkins, Jasmine Wilkins, and Sherry Simmons hold the graduation picture of Gregory Wilkins, who was murdered on Tuesday, November 26, 1996 in Louisville, Ky. He was pronounced dead as soon as he went to the hospital. Jasmine, his daughter, was two years old and in the other room when he was murdered. His girlfriend Sherry was at work, and his mother Judy was at home. “I visit his grave once a week,” said Judy. “I have been once a week for 21 years. I once dreamed that he was reaching out to my hand and I almost reached out to his. I said ‘baby, why did they take you so soon?’ He told me his time had come. Then he was gone.” Judy said. |Michael Blackshire

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Through Our Eyes – 11/7/17

Best of the best:

Bill Santley, 50, waits to get off in North Hollywood on the Green Line Metro Bus in Los Angeles, California. Bill Santley has been blind all of his life. “I would suggest stay in Northern California, there are a lot of people who don’t speak english here. I have to find an address and people I try to communicate to on the train speak Spanish. Very hard to navigate around LA, and being blind makes my days more rough. Unfortunately IÕve lived here all of my life, but the train system helps. Housing is ridiculous. If your going to live in LA you better have a kid, or else people won’t help you. Or your going to get left behind.” | Michael Blackshire

 

Honorable mentions:

Eugene Monsun, 76, smokes a cigarette before headed back home. He has lived in Bowling Green, KY for 10 years after retiring from carpentry. ” My old roommate died a year ago so now I live with his son. I try not to dwell on death but I can’t help but think about the inevitable since he passed away. Also doesn’t help my health that I chain smoke cigarettes.” Monsun said. | Michael Blackshire

Connor Fadely helps to clear the football field following a Creek Wood victory over the Portland Panthers on October 20, 2017 at Portland East Middle School in Portland, Tn. The Red Hawks won 21-6. | Gabriel Scarlett

PORTLAND, TN – 20: Kicker Camrin Lyle of Portland Panthers sits during halftime of a game in which she did not see playing time against the Creek Wood Red Hawks on October 20, 2017 at Portland East Middle School in Portland, Tn. She is the only female member of the Portland team. | Gabriel Scarlett

Dawson, 6, trick-or-treats with his family on Halloween in Brownsville, Ky.|Morgan Hornsby

“Here, we are not prisoner,” Denise says. “The [refugee] camp was surrounded with bushes.” Since moving to Morehead in 2014, she started a garden that includes her infamous hot peppers.|Shaban Athuman

Hours after Denise Luke was born in Togo, a west African nation, her family thought they were looking at her for the last time. She was born a bit overdue, and had swallowed some bodily fluids during the birthing process. A man passing by asked what was going on and the family told him that she was dead. The man looked at her, then made a cut under both of her eyes and applied some material on the wound. Seconds later she was awake. |Shaban Athuman

Nashville, TN – 4: Runners compete in their race at the TSSAA State Meet at Percy Warner Steeplechase Course in Nashville on Nov. 4, 2017. | Gabriel Scarlett

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Through Our Eyes – 10/17/17

Best of the best:

Laura Webb waves goodbye to her foster son Dawson as he goes to school. Unknown to Dawson, his mother and father would soon leave for a court appointment regarding the adoption of him and his brother. After three years of foster care, the court system changed the goal of the boys’ case to adoption and decided to begin the process of terminating parental rights.|Morgan Hornsby

Honorable mention:

WKU tight end Mik’Quan Deane (85) catches a pass for a touch down at the WKU Homecoming football game on Saturday October 14, 2017 at LT Smith Stadium. WKU won 45 to 14.|Silas Walker

Other work:

A fight breaks out between patrons and is quickly pushed out into the parking lot during Yo Gotti’s performance at a concert on Saturday, October 14, 2017 at the Sloan Convention Center. |Silas Walker

Saxton lights one of many kerosene lamps for light in his home as the sun sets. | Kelsea Hobbs

Dawson waits for the bus while his foster mother Laura Webb dries her hair in preparation for their upcoming court appointment. Unknown to Dawson, his mother and father would soon leave for court to receive a hearing on the status of the adoption of him and his brother. After three years of foster care, the court system changed the goal of the boys’ case to adoption and decided to begin the process of terminating parental rights.|Morgan Hornsby

Paige Henderson dances with her friend Melody Dickerson in Henderson’s dorm room. The two are both on the Major Redz majorette-style dance team. Since meeting at tryouts, they spend most days practicing routines or creating new choreography homework for the Major Redz. “Most days, we dance, Henderson said. Everywhere, sometimes in the Chick-Fil-A line.” | Morgan Hornsby

Wide Receiver Cameron Echols-Luper #23 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers gives high fives to young fans after his game against Charlotte at L.T. Smith Stadium on October 14, 2017 in Bowling Green, Kentucky.|Shaban Athuman

Quarterback Brooks Barden #12 of the Charlotte 49ers is tacked by Defensive Back Drell Greene #9 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at L.T. Smith Stadium on October 14, 2017 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. |Shaban Athuman

A member of the WKU Athletic staff holds a smoke canister before as the Hilltoppers are introduced on the field to play against Charlotte at L.T. Smith Stadium on October 14, 2017 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. |Shaban Athuman

Frank Phelps outside his mechanic shop in Bowling Green, Ky. Phelps and Son was once run by himself and his father, Andrew, but he has since taken over, often working 12-hour days. | Gabe Scarlett

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Through Our Eyes – 10/10/17

Best of the best:

Autour Love, 46, holds a framed photo of his deceased son Javon Saadig Jackson, who was murdered by a drive by shooting on December 1st, 2016, he was 19.”First 20 minutes I heard about my son getting shot, I was Boom, out the house, drove straight from Park DuValle to 12th and Hill Street. All of the anger I let go when I was younger grew back inside me. The coroner didn’t even lay a sheet over my son’s dead body. Had him lounged over the car with his lifeless body, blood dripping on the ground. I left the streets for my son to learn from my past life lessons. All I can do now is lay back; ask God for answers, because the streets won’t give me answers.” Autour Love said while reflecting on the memory of his son Javon Saadig Jackson. October 9th, 2017. |Michael Blackshire

Honorable mention:

Running back Luke Owen #21 of the Salem Spartans scores a touchdown against Patrick Henry on Friday Oct. 06, 2017 in Roanoke, Va. |Shaban Athuman

Kenneth Forbes Sr., 45, son died a year and seven months after graduating from Valley High School in Louisville, KY. Kenneth Forbes Jr. died on December 23rd, 2012 in a parking lot off of Dixie Highway. “Christmas isn’t a good time for me, my son died two days before Christmas; that breaks me down every year. I don’t celebrate holidays. The closes people to me always ask me whats wrong, and I’m thinking do you know what happened to me man. I only have one son now, and I had to burry my first born. I suffer from grief, anxiety, and depression. Don’t ask me whats wrong, sometimes I just want to lay down in bed all day. I can never accept my son being murdered. I can find closure through reflection but my life changed on December 23rd 2012.” Kenneth Forbes Sr. said. October 8th, 2017. |Michael Blackshire

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Through Our Eyes – 10/3/17

Best of the best:

Reggie Gough, 58, brushes the dirt off one of his horses before going on a ride in Franklin, Ky., on a Tuesday afternoon. “This horse has broken my collar bone, stepped on my hand, and kicked me in the face. I called her Suzy but I nickname her Bull. She’s my favorite horse but I swear the last time she injured me I had to strain myself to not put her down,” Reggie Gough said. | Michael Blackshire

Honorable mention:

Reggie Gough rides his horse Suzy while his other horse Mustang stays close with a halter carrying the horses to their resting stop. “I’m not a cowboy, I’m a horseman,” said Gough. “Cowboy’s chase cows, I make sure horses have tender hooves and a sore back, plus black man are afraid of ropes.” |Michael Blackshire

Bernard Djuma grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and after moving the Bowling Green, Ky., joined BG Projects United, a local soccer team for African refugees. The team was started three years ago and is sponsored by the Housing Authority of Bowling Green and Christ Fellowship Church. |Skyler Ballard

Dawson stands in his backyard in Edmondson County, Kentucky. Nearby, his mother and father take turns watching Dawson and his little brother Alex as they jump on the trampoline together and fight over who gets to ride their shared scooter. The boys have been in foster care with the Webb-Thomas family for three years. In just a week, the family will find out in court if they will become permanent guardians of the brothers or if they will return to their biological parents. Shot on 120 film. |Morgan Hornsby

Members of Bowling Green Projects United, a local soccer team for African refugees, practice for an upcoming game. The team, which ranges from elementary to high school players, was started by Daniel Tarnagda as a way for the the members to integrate into the community. |Skyler Ballard

Running back Jakairi Moses #29 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers dives into the end zone to score a touchdown against Ball State on September 23, 2017 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. |Shaban Athuman

Members of Bowling Green Projects United, a local soccer team for African refugees, practice for an upcoming game. The team, which ranges from elementary to high school players, was started by Daniel Tarnagda as a way for the the members to integrate into the community. |Skyler Ballard

My sister Natalie and her Imogen. “When I take her down to the water’s edge, when I hold her tiny foot in the cold, and clear, when I stand in it and splash for her entertainment, all the waters from all these histories collide. From the puddle of amniotic fluid that soaked my toes in the hospital to the puddles I couldnÕt hop over while pregnant, from the laboring hallucinations and flashbacks to the contractions like waves, from the obsidian pools of her eyes just opening to her searching, piercing expressions, all water flows to the lowest point. ImogenÕs eyes dig into me, hollowing and filling me. Her eyes, like whetstones on which I must drag my meanings and hone my understanding, ask and ask and ask. Water always flows to the deepest place.” ÐNatalie. Shot on 120 film. |Gabe Sacrlett

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Through Our Eyes-09/19/17

Best of the best:

Demetrius and Demontaze Duncan play fight outside on Muhammad Ali Blvd in Louisville, KY. “You can’t steal me though” Demetrius said to Demontaze as they discuss their boxing records. September 11th. 2017. |Michael Blackshire

Honorable mention:

Demontaze and Demetrius Duncan relax upstairs in their rooms right before they go to bed at night. “I want to get a periscope, that’s my best subject is science, I made a 48 on my last history test, that’s my least favorite” Demontaze Duncan said while discussing class. “School isn’t my best subject, all of the subjects, none of them are my best,” Demetrius Duncan said while discussion school. September 7th, 2017. |Michael Blackshire

Other participants:

This is the Big Bethel AME Church in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia. It is the oldest African-American congregation in the area. Its basement was the first African-American public school in the city. |Gabe Scarlett

Louisiana Tech University wide receiver Rhashid Bonnette (86) rects after Western Kentucky University defensive back Joe Brown (7) intercepted a pass intended for him during the Hilltoppers’ 22-23 loss to Louisiana Tech University on Saturday September 16, 2017 at L.T. Smith Stadium. |Shaban Athuman

A focus stacked macro shot of one of the many specimens of Monarch Butterflies belonging to WKU’s own entomologist and beetle expert, Dr. Keith Phillips. |Thomas Helm

Dwayne Webb tries to get his foster sons to bed while Alex plays and Dawson sulks. Though Dwayne wakes up at 3 a.m. every day to go to work, he puts the boys to bed every night, which can take up to an hour. |Morgan Hornsby

Each time I come home, I notice subtle changes in my brother. On this visit, he was proud of the new words that he took from his library book and proud of the squirrel he killed. It still lies in our laundry room freezer, waiting for something. He updates me on his accomplishments as we walk the edge of our grandmotherÕs pond, plucking armfuls of yellow flowers. He begs me to loosen a stubborn front tooth. I reach for his hand as he lunges for a singular purple flower near the waterÕs edge. The distance subsides. This process is, to me, as holy as any ritual. He gifts the green and yellow bundle to our mom; the purple he saves for my hair. |Morgan Hornsby

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Through Our Eyes-09/12/17

Best of the best:

Harmony Hawks runs through her cousin’s yard in Edmonson County, Kentucky. Harmony has been in foster care with the Hawks for six months, and is on track to be adopted soon. “She should have been named hurricane,” her foster mother Jessica Hawks said of Harmony. The family lives in Grayson, Kentucky but is remodeling a home across the road to be closer to the rest of their family as they care for more children. |Morgan Hornsby.

 

Honorable mention:

From left, Dryan Neeley, Danielle Minton, Peyton Neeley, Alexandria Neeley, and Breanna Neeley watch as a solar eclipse takes place at their home in Bon Ayr Estates trailer park near Bon Ayr, Ky. on August 21, 2017. |Gabriel Scarlett.

 

Other participants:

Davis Lowe was diagnosed with a very rare mental disability at 6 months old. At the age of 3 he was formally diagnosed on the autism spectrum. He was then adopted by the Lowe family and he has been receiving therapy and schooling in order to help his progress. |Mhari Shaw.

Western Kentucky University wide receiver Nacarius Fant will return to take on Eastern Kentucky after injuring his knee last year. |Shaban Athuman.

A family watches the eclipse just before totality begins from the lawn of the Jefferson Davis State Historic Site in Fairview, Ky. |Skyler Ballard.

Dawson Thomas plays with his cat in his home in Edmonson County, Kentucky. Dawson, 6, has been in foster care with the Thomas family for half of his life. The family hopes to adopt as soon as possible. |Morgan Hornsby.

Brothers Dawson and Alex Thomas play together while their mother makes dinner in Edmonson County, Kentucky. The family lives on what their mother Laura calls a “pleasure farm,” with a few chickens, sheep, and one donkey. |Morgan Hornsby.

Breanna Neeley watches the street lights come on as a solar eclipse takes place above her home in Bon Ayr Estates trailer park near Bon Ayr, Kentucky on August 21, 2017. |Gabriel Scarlett.

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