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Deep in the golden pathways of an urban Southern community reigns a man with a huge heart for people and the planet named Shawn Deangelo Walton. He reigns from Atlanta, Georgia and having gone to school there from childhood to adulthood, Shawn is what we would call an ATLien through and through. We reached out to Shawn to bring us into his movement as Brutha of the Week.
Shawn: I was born in Atlanta Georgia, but I moved so much as a youth I consider myself a well rounded Metro Atlantan. I’ve spent years of my life in Hapeville, College Park, and East Point connected by I-85 and South Bound Marta Stations. I graduated from Tri-Cities in East Point. In East Point is were I finished middle school at Paul D. West, graduated from High School, and begin college at Paine College in Augusta. East Point is also home to Outkast, the beloved southern artists. I graduated further north of that South Bound line from Morehouse College in 2012 with a degree in Early Childhood Education.
Shawn currently serves as a Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU) Chair for his community area for the City of Atlanta. In this position he acts as the liaison for the community areas under the district he serves in and the city, in terms of community development and outreach. Shawn’s active role in his community within Atlanta doesn’t just stop there! Shawn is founder of WeCycle Atlanta, a nonprofit organization that is motivating youth and the community to exercise more, and enhance our environment by following their slogan “Doing The Bike Thing.”
Shawn: I am the Executive Director of Wecycle Atlanta, a domestic non-profit in the heart of Atlanta. This organization is the avenue that I use to fulfill my ontological vocation which is to ensure access to practical solutions to everyday concerns in West Atlanta. Wecycle Atlanta allows me to do this using cycling and urban agriculture as the vehicle to promote work ethic, health, economics, environment, and leadership, which is also known as the Wecycle W.H.E.E.L. model. Through programs like 40 Hours and a Bike local youth and neighbors can earn a bicycle and bicycle education by completing community service in the Ashview Community Garden. Within the program the principles of the W.H.E.E.L. model are being taught through active, applicable, and practical lessons in cycling and urban agriculture.
Shawn is known to be a leader and an advocate outspokenly through direct, social, and political action. From leading marches in the neighborhood, to having bike rides to local black businesses to encourage a culture of supporting black businesses. Shawn has a genuine artistic ability to use his experiences to paint a better future for all peoples, especially those subjugated to oppression.
Shawn: I believe staying true to myself has brought me into this field of interest. I was always interested in solutions to the problems that African Americans face in America. The systematic oppression of African American people opened my eyes to the broader plight of oppression as it relates to those in low-income areas national wide. Initially I feed this interest through youth organizations such as the NAACP, and I used poetry to speak solutions and highlight problems. I begin marching to speak out against injustices to African Americans with the NAACP at the age of 14. After hearing “No Justice, No Peace!” as a child in films until the age of 6, I realized that much had not changed. In 2011, the Troy Davis case was the media focus and again we had marched and protested in Jackson Georgia. That day I was beat and tazed by Jackson police after I gave a enraging speech and crossing the police line with several people behind me. I was taken to Butts County holding cells and reflected on how I couldn’t let anger jeopardize my freedom. My mentor, Dr. Benson, advised me to rethink my strategy on how to help others. I took that advice to heart and refocused my energy less on marches, after horrific incidents, and more on proactive measures to assure that those in low-income communities were getting the essential lessons in life through practical and affordable means. My fire for justice and holistic development in low-income communities has lead me to this field of work.
WeCycle Atlanta is currently in the FedEx Challenge – which out of hundreds to thousands of competitors they have entered the 2nd round. The 2nd round is much like the first where they raised up to 4000 votes, and made it to 2nd place behind a company catering to doggy biscuits. Please be on the look out for them as they change the city and later in the future the world, one ride at a time.
Shawn: We have made it to the 2nd round in which the top 100 businesses were chosen out of thousands! The feet of making the top 100 was so inspirational because there was a time when we were down literally thousands from the top tier of voting, but reached 2,000+ votes in 5 days! The number of people voting for us let us know how much support we had from people across the nation. The competition now comes down to answer questions so that FedEx can pick the most deserving businesses. Fortunately, Wecycle Atlanta Inc. has other ways people can support us because ultimately we are responsible for keeping the beneficial things in our communities alive and well. Supporters can do so stylishly by purchasing our “Do The Bike Thing!” shirt or by donating to Wecycle Atlanta. Both ways to support can be found on our website www.WecycleAtlanta.org. We are currently raising funds to open a bicycle shop in the community.
If you would like to support Shawn and WeCycle Atlanta please like and follow them on twitter and facebook at WeCycle Atlanta. Or go to their website at www.wecycleatlanta.org. Follow Shawn on twitter and instagram @shawndeangelo. And remember to DO THE BIKE THING! in your communities, as well.