A Black Press USA Network

From hood to neighborhood

Posted: August 18, 2011 at 03:00 am

Former drug dealer looks to turn his neighborhood back to the way it was before crime and drugs took over.

Ernie Banks spent years as a drug dealer helping to destroy his community.

As a reformed, rehabilitated and hard working black man, Mr. Banks’ mission is now to restore it to when it had many businesses, manicured lawns and neighbors knew each other.

Mr. Banks, president of Stand Up Man Up, a non profit group, is hosting “Turning Hoods Back Into Neighborhoods” from noon to 3 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 20, at Oakwood and Detroit.

He formed Stand Up Man Up in 2009. He is financing the event, which will offer free mulch, food, fun and a raffle for $50 and $25 gift cards.

“It’s really for this community to come out and get to know their neighbors,” Mr. Banks said. “A lot goes on in the community.

The only reason it’s the hood is because we make it that way. There’s nothing wrong with helping neighbors clean up.

“We as men in our community need to start standing up and manning up for all causes,” said Mr. Banks, the father of eight children. “We’re leaving black women to raise the black males in our community. This has to change.

“We have take our community back. Let’s turn our hoods back into neighborhoods. We can’t take care of our community until we take it back one block at a time. We need to find a way to invest in the community so that the community can invest in us.” Mr. Banks said he wants this event to catapult into a virus and spread throughout the city, block-by-block, neighborhood-by neighborhood.

The number one goal is to get the community united and work with the youngsters, he said. Parents need to know just who are their children hanging out with. And people need to know that people care about them, he said.

“I was a part of destroying this neighborhood,” Mr. Banks said.

“Now, I’m trying to make it back to the way it was before.” Mr. Banks spent five years in prison for a drug conviction.

As a young man, he grew up on Oakwood near Detroit, formerly known as “Cokewood.” He said he sold drugs for eight years and made a lot of money, which he declined to say how much.

After running from the law for five years, Mr.

Banks said it was time to surrender to authorities and pay his debt to society.

He said the first day he stepped foot in prison he knew he didn’t want to go back. He said he lost all of his freedom and the conditions he lived in was another form of slavery.

“I knew I had to make a change,” Mr. Banks said.

The reformed citizen is a prevention specialist and chemical dependency counselor assistant at the Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program of Lucas County. John Edwards is the executive director.

Mr. Banks credits Mr. Edwards, former Toledo Mayor Jack Ford and Margaret Levesque, who works with Mr. Edwards, with his positive transition back into the community.

Mr. Banks is looking for volunteers to assist with the event. So far, the Village 50, Sisters Helping Sisters and Women of Favor have either indicated support or shown interest, he said.

For more information, call Mr. Banks at 419- 450-9562, or email at standupmanup@yahoo.com.

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