Author and Activist Leon Ford Creates Writing Competition

At the age of 19, Leon Ford was shot five times by a Pittsburgh police officer. What started out as a routine traffic stop, escalated when three police officers failed to correctly identify Leon. Although, his story is tragic, Leon has decided to turn his story of tragedy into a story of triumph. He is a survivor of police brutality and is using his story to positively impact society.

PACS has been fortunate to have Leon Ford visit our students on several occasions. During one of his visits, he was impressed by our students' dreams and challenged them to write their own stories. He said he would offer a prize of $100 to the student with the best story, and this began the Leon Ford Writing Competition. The following day, he called the school and said that he had thought about the competition and could do better and wanted to award prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in the amounts of $500, $250, and $100, respectively. Our students answered his challenged and submitted their stories.

Three winners were chosen. Their stories were filled with sadness, abuse, and tragedy.

"My dad was gunned down and that is when I lost myself. I became very depressed to the point that I tried committing suicide multiple times and started skipping school."

"Life is never easy; they say you have to go through the dark to get to the light. I was living a nightmare. I tried to tell my mom but she didn’t believe me."

"I was so scared to be talked down on because of who I am. Scared of being disclaimed by people I thought cared for me and loved me."

Their voices were lost and their cries unheard, but each of their stories had a turning point in which they found success, love, and hope.

"One day I realized I had to change my life around so I started bettering myself. Now that I’m older and strongminded, I am glad I went through my struggles because it made me who I am today."

"God works in magical ways because he knew I was so desperate to change my life."

"It took me awhile to realize for me to be happy I have to accept myself, and not try to change to please everyone else. I knew right then and there I had a chance to make a positive difference in someone’s life."

Despite the obstacles, they each managed to graduate with honors. These students are proof that anything is possible. Please take a moment to congratulate our Leon Ford Writer’s Competition winners: Nicchole Wilder, Jayda Griffin, and Raynisha Phillips.