Alvin, Survivor

Alvin, Survivor

Age at displacement: 8 years old

I’ll never forget the traumatic experience of our family being displaced and herded like cattle and sheep. Looking back, it feels like we were treated like animals and disregarded as human beings.

To relive coming home from school to see neighbors’ homes burned and bulldozed to the ground, with their personal belongings inside, was a terrible and horrifying memory indelibly etched in my mind.

I remember being swished away, put into a car, and driven to Las Vegas to live with my great-aunt Geraldine. My dad was trying to protect us by ensuring we had a place to live, but due to being taken away from my parents, I was once again traumatized. By the time I was 9 or 10, I found myself acting out, labeled a bad little boy early.

I grew up pretty fast — at 16, I played drums in Little Richard’s band, with Billy Preston, and eventually with George Harrison, Elton John, and many other musical legends.

Because of my musical success, I could mask my childhood pain for some time. That mask was a cover for a deep seeded wound that has not yet, to this very day, healed. Even though I traveled worldwide, doing what I loved to do, I could never shake the hurt. I often recall the burning houses and always thought about not having our home or my dad anymore. He became an alcoholic.

I later learned that my untreated pain is what compelled me to turn to drugs and sink into the horrible life of addiction. It was all to forget my childhood trauma after a never-ending cycle of going from rehab to rehab and spending time in prison. I finally ended up in a happy marriage with my childhood sweetheart Delia Ruiz Taylor, who also grew up in Section 14. She has her issues due to being forced from her home. Having someone to share what that was like is a big plus in our relationship. We can acknowledge the life-long scars and the damage the event of Section 14 has left on both of us.