Robert Benjamin: Activism, Community, and Hair


“Hey Rob!”
—Hold on one second— [Horns honking]

So you were talking about community….

So a lot of time people don’t know what other people go through in their lives. There’s a group of people down here that don’t have a voice and the people at the top capitalize on them. But those people get up and pay their bills every morning. They have the same thing—every 30 days to pay bills just like we do. We can’t really stereotype people because even though we all got different make up, we’re more alike then we are dis-alike.

I’ve been through a lot too in my life. I’ve been falsely accused of a crime before, went to jail and was facing prison time for something I didn’t do. And that was the most horrible time in my life. And it was at the hands of someone else! The police officer came and made me sign statements on myself and I was going to jail for something I didn’t do. It was a terrible crime, but then the girl turned around and said Robert didn’t do this to me! So that saved me. So I think about God all the time—the ‘Unseen’. You never know what’s working behind the scenes—ya know? So that’s the scary thing with me.

What made her stand up?

When she got to the Grand Jury, with all the people staring at her, she was like, he didn’t do this to me, my father did this to me. I know that anybody’s mistake can really mess somebody’s life up. I just love to have peace with everybody, helping the misfortune, sharing what I got. Stuff don’t belong to us anyways; you get a car, you have 4 years to pay for it; you buy a house, they give us 30 years to pay for it.

And maintenance! My mirror on my car just fell off…

Oh really? Ooh wow…haha see? Ya know, its just that I  think it would be a better place if we were more of a family.

How would you as a community members want students to get involved?

That’s what I’ve been saying—how can we connect! Going to school your working on something to help develop America right? We’re all Americans here. Some kind of of programs being developed over there are going to affect us out over here. those people are gonna graduate and go into positions that we are probably going to need to go to for help or resources. We still need each other.  

We come from an area – I’m 48. I’m a 60’s baby. The generation before us is the generation they did it to.The generation after them, that’s me, said you can’t do this to me. Now we’ve gone to a millennial generation, which those kids are in college now and they need to know. They need to know the real cause and effect. 

Barber shops are pillars in a community because all woks of life come through here. So what if we plugged into the university to put a barber shop [there]? If you get the community to work along with the college students, I think that would be a good community right there. Because where we’re going, we all need each other. 

Thank you Robert!

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