Marcellus Morris, Community Organizer and Diversion Counselor


Title (Dublin Core)

Marcellus Morris, Community Organizer and Diversion Counselor
Marcellus Morris, Oral History, 2020/10/01

Description (Dublin Core)

Marcellus Morris is a community organizer and diversion counselor in Hempstead, NY. Through Reign 4 Life and other initiatives, he works with at-risk youth toward

Recording Date (Dublin Core)

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Partner (Dublin Core)

Type (Dublin Core)

oral history

Link (Bibliographic Ontology)

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Curator's Tags (Omeka Classic)

Contributor's Tags (a true folksonomy) (Friend of a Friend)

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Date Modified (Dublin Core)


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Interviewer (Bibliographic Ontology)

Juilee Decker

Interviewee (Bibliographic Ontology)

Marcellus Morris

Location (Omeka Classic)

Long Island

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Duration (Omeka Classic)

18 minutes

Transcription (Omeka Classic)

Interview by Juilee Decker and Joysetta Pearse with Marcellus Morris Recorded October 1, 2020
5:30 pm ET
Conducted over Zoom. The interview is 18 minutes.
00:14:51.870 --> 00:14:53.220
Joysetta Pearse: Marcellus is here.
00:14:57.090 --> 00:14:57.570
Juilee Decker: Awesome.
00:14:57.660 --> 00:14:58.440
That's awesome.
00:15:00.990 --> 00:15:05.220
Joysetta Pearse: I'm going to call this other lady. She said she was on a call and I haven't heard
from her some
00:15:05.520 --> 00:15:06.150
Joysetta Pearse: Of her but
00:15:07.320 --> 00:15:08.250
Joysetta Pearse: You may have forgotten.
00:15:09.090 --> 00:15:10.860
Juilee Decker: Let me get my note paper on
00:15:11.190 --> 00:15:13.260
Joysetta Pearse: My phone you can turn this around so she can see right
00:15:19.980 --> 00:15:20.250
Juilee Decker: Marcellus.
00:15:20.370 --> 00:15:22.290
Juilee Decker: How you doing good, how are you
00:15:23.850 --> 00:15:34.170
Juilee Decker: I was just telling Joysetta we were having a chitchat about all the wonders of zoom
and I just told her that I have a sore throat. So I have like cough drops in and she's like, it's

from all the interviews and talking
00:15:35.760 --> 00:15:37.410
Juilee Decker: Like, you're probably right about that.
00:15:40.620 --> 00:15:42.330
Joysetta Pearse: Okay, you'll see you'll hear me.
00:15:44.820 --> 00:15:45.510
Joysetta Pearse: Call him now, she's
00:15:47.490 --> 00:15:50.280
Joysetta Pearse: Rolling. You know, people one at a time.
00:15:50.730 --> 00:16:08.640
Juilee Decker: Yeah so Marcellus, I can start with you. If you're comfortable with that. And I,
what I do is I ask you, each of the questions and then I'm taking notes to and then though
there's six questions. And the last one is kind of open ended. But if
00:16:10.110 --> 00:16:10.500
Juilee Decker: What
00:16:10.800 --> 00:16:15.150
Joysetta Pearse: You hear the TV. We think maybe in the background.
00:16:16.200 --> 00:16:17.610
Juilee Decker: I do hear something. You're right.
00:16:20.580 --> 00:16:27.120
Juilee Decker: I thought it was down over down the hall. But you're right. I think it is on your
end, yeah. Um, so
00:16:28.530 --> 00:16:29.580
Alicia Evans: Oh, I'm sorry.
00:16:29.820 --> 00:16:34.800
Juilee Decker: I don't know. I'm just talking with Marcellus. I'm on the that you're welcome to stay
on. That's cool.

00:16:35.670 --> 00:16:36.930
Juilee Decker: That's cool. Um,
00:16:38.340 --> 00:16:43.140
Juilee Decker: Marcellus. So I'll start with you. And then we'll, we'll kind of go from there. If that
works good.
00:16:44.400 --> 00:16:54.360
Juilee Decker: Perfect. Okay, so first question is to state your name. You can do first name, first
name, last name, and just so I make sure I have it right. Can you spell your first name, please.
00:16:55.500 --> 00:17:00.120
Marcellus Morris: My soul is more senior ma RC LL us
00:17:03.420 --> 00:17:13.440
Juilee Decker: And before COVID, what would you say your average day was like for you and
what is it like now since Kobe.
00:17:14.910 --> 00:17:25.860
Marcellus Morris: Kobe my average day was going out doing my work, I started organization for
rain for life. And I was putting it together. We just got some funding. So everybody was excited about
00:17:27.390 --> 00:17:35.280
Marcellus Morris: And we were doing our thing, you know, helping young people being able to pay
young people to do some work universes clean up a payment building something like that.
00:17:36.210 --> 00:17:55.590
Marcellus Morris: So it was relatively good I wasn't in a perfect relationship with my arms and
maybe mother, significant other at the time. So, but we had a understanding. I got two kids. So we
were able to function. And I was able to visit him get them at the school and all types of
situations like that.
00:17:56.940 --> 00:18:08.160
Marcellus Morris: After now, not a virus hit once the virus it. I wasn't really taking it serious until
you know certain people started to drop. And then, you know, we had to take it serious

00:18:09.900 --> 00:18:15.120
Marcellus Morris: I think one of the questions where you were from and I was raised in a lot of
different places. I was born in Miami, Florida.
00:18:16.080 --> 00:18:28.740
Marcellus Morris: Raised in Philadelphia raised in Chicago raised in New York. So I had all these
affiliations with all these different types of people. So when your Facebook and get every day,
you're getting bombarded by, you know, who just died.
00:18:30.090 --> 00:18:38.670
Marcellus Morris: And things of that nature. So you got to deal with a lot of death. Now you fast
forward and you add black lives matter to the situation.
00:18:39.810 --> 00:18:42.540
Marcellus Morris: It just kind of compounded everything and
00:18:43.890 --> 00:19:01.920
Marcellus Morris: took everything to another level on the young people protested on the young
people. Well, in my area. Gavin I wanted me to galvanize around them and protest with them, but it
just so happened I think God kind of took me out that situation because I happen to get arrested
that night.
00:19:03.060 --> 00:19:10.260
Marcellus Morris: And I wasn't able to make the protest, because I had to stay overnight inside the
booking and so on. Rain.
00:19:11.760 --> 00:19:24.270
Marcellus Morris: So I didn't make the Protest. Protest kind of turn ugly for wrong turn, or
whatever the case may be. And I kind of understood on some of the understood all the anger
all their frustrations and everything.
00:19:25.440 --> 00:19:35.550
Marcellus Morris: But I should know as a leader, the community as in the fed into it. Any type of
man I was supposed to be that that piece. Keep on but I lost it.

00:19:36.360 --> 00:19:45.030
Marcellus Morris: Just, just because of the sheer loss of life and going through the system
doing 17 years, knowing the prejudices, knowing the racism.
00:19:45.420 --> 00:19:50.490
Marcellus Morris: I'm going through Nassau County Courthouse and getting railroaded is
known it was a
00:19:51.030 --> 00:19:59.640
Marcellus Morris: unjustifiable case. Not that I have done wrong. And I've done time and I deserve
to do time. But when you're innocent in the case shows that you're innocent.
00:20:00.030 --> 00:20:09.060
Marcellus Morris: That should be more president than trying to convince me because I'm a three
times felon or whatever the case may be and that doesn't happen in Nassau too much.
00:20:09.750 --> 00:20:19.920
Marcellus Morris: So, you know, I was going at it with the dean's office. I was going at it with the
police department and I was going at it with the people inside my building where I was working
00:20:21.510 --> 00:20:22.410
Marcellus Morris: So eventually
00:20:23.430 --> 00:20:33.780
Marcellus Morris: You know that build a situation ended so I didn't have that place to come. People
are used to galvanize around me didn't have that inside place to come and all
00:20:36.870 --> 00:20:38.190
Marcellus Morris: A lot of them took a left turn.
00:20:41.220 --> 00:20:44.070
Juilee Decker: You know, you brought up Black Lives Matter and I'm
00:20:45.630 --> 00:20:46.350
gonna finish.

00:20:48.330 --> 00:20:49.080
Marcellus Morris: A lot of them.
00:20:50.730 --> 00:20:51.690
Marcellus Morris: took a wrong turn
00:20:54.360 --> 00:20:55.350
Marcellus Morris: One of them got shot.
00:20:57.090 --> 00:20:59.280
Marcellus Morris: One of them shot his own brother.
00:21:01.980 --> 00:21:03.600
Marcellus Morris: Two of them concert
00:21:05.400 --> 00:21:07.020
Marcellus Morris: And one of them was in a shootout.
00:21:09.090 --> 00:21:10.650
Marcellus Morris: With the police would have fake on
00:21:12.510 --> 00:21:14.340
Marcellus Morris: After I realized all of that.
00:21:15.450 --> 00:21:25.350
Marcellus Morris: And the importance of that that space for them to come and someone just
wanted to come and rest and is go to sleep on a couch. Someone just wanted something to eat.
00:21:26.130 --> 00:21:41.490
Marcellus Morris: And someone just wanted a simple place to go and for somebody to listen to,
because all and didn't want to live the life that they was moving on. So that took effect and the
whole so go ahead and mention right now, but I just want to get that thought out.
00:21:41.880 --> 00:21:51.240
Juilee Decker: I know I'm glad you did know what I what I wanted to ask was how you you
started to touch on that was how you sensed

00:21:51.990 --> 00:22:08.160
Juilee Decker: What the community was feeling and you can use and you said that and how and
how that's that's come upon you like the sense of your community is you're feeling it because
you're you're seeing what's going on there.
00:22:09.660 --> 00:22:10.020
Marcellus Morris: Well,
00:22:11.190 --> 00:22:23.250
Marcellus Morris: You know it is what it is when you inside the community you able to see and
feel the hardship. I mean, your houses. Somebody individual kids confirm you know what's going
on inside the house. You know, sometimes they not eat.
00:22:23.910 --> 00:22:30.480
Marcellus Morris: Or they don't have a close they need. They don't have food or they may be even
getting abused or whatever's going on.
00:22:31.500 --> 00:22:42.600
Marcellus Morris: But I'll let you know that somebody is kids. And so these patterns. They want to
change. They want some way to go. They want something different, you know, when they took
that we took a piece of me.
00:22:44.220 --> 00:22:58.770
Marcellus Morris: God bless me. You know, sometimes I wonder why keep keep keeping situated
where I can still help people. You understand I'm saying I got a whole new situation. Other
situations going on, but that was happening at that time when COVID just hit
00:22:59.820 --> 00:23:08.310
Marcellus Morris: Being sitting in talking to you and Miss Pearse have access to this type of
building and these type of this type of information is a blessing you
00:23:09.420 --> 00:23:14.400
Marcellus Morris: Will find people like Miss Pearse, Mr Pearse. I'm too often in your lifetime.

00:23:16.500 --> 00:23:21.510
Juilee Decker: Yeah, I hear, I hear you. With that, um, when you said
00:23:22.620 --> 00:23:38.340
Juilee Decker: The question three is sort of what's your COVID story and like, what have you
been doing since COVID to make sense of everything around you, like, is there any specific
thing that you're doing to kind of help you get through this.
00:23:40.350 --> 00:23:56.460
Marcellus Morris: Well, I work my work. My work is what I've been working on. Like I said, I
continue to be blessed. Find different people that continue to believe in me and support me
and give me funding, whether its financial free shirts free food.
00:23:57.480 --> 00:24:06.690
Marcellus Morris: I got two houses that I'm invested in reentry housing for people coming home for
president on the house manager at one and I'm invested in another one so
00:24:07.230 --> 00:24:17.910
Marcellus Morris: These things keep me busy and I got two little kids so they don't have the most
beautiful thing in life at six and two, so you know how much they hard work but they're fun in itself.
00:24:18.450 --> 00:24:26.940
Marcellus Morris: To hear them. Laughing And, you know, hear the stories. But the sad
thing is to he he was son is only six but he first. He wanted to be a police
00:24:28.140 --> 00:24:32.220
Marcellus Morris: Then after Black Lives Matter is free to punks.
00:24:33.330 --> 00:24:41.610
Marcellus Morris: In the police. They pop right down the block for where I live in Hillsdale
saying so he had positive into x and then after
00:24:42.030 --> 00:24:56.790
Marcellus Morris: Seeing Black Lives Matter going to different marches and watching the news and
stuff. Now he thinks to police the bad guys all police a bag, so I had to explain to him, you know, all
police on

bad he's got some good carbs and some bad cops and I left it there.
00:24:57.840 --> 00:25:09.510
Marcellus Morris: I don't know what's that going to lead to long term for him, not having faith in the
police, you know I'm saying what are the effects because he went from one to be the police.
00:25:10.770 --> 00:25:17.100
Marcellus Morris: To now possibly want to be the act. Now the activists, but you know
saying take to the streets.
00:25:19.410 --> 00:25:24.390
Marcellus Morris: It is what it is. We don't know what what's going to happen. The biggest thing is
we don't know what's going to happen for the future.
00:25:24.810 --> 00:25:36.090
Marcellus Morris: Because America right now is at a real real turning point. So we can either turn
left turn right, try to figure it out. So that's why I stayed in it. I get for those people.
00:25:37.500 --> 00:25:39.330
Yeah yeah yeah
00:25:41.190 --> 00:25:59.880
Juilee Decker: Oh, then the next question. Question for is about groups and you've touched on
this a little bit, but the specific question is, how has the pandemic affected the groups that you're
a part of and you can take this in any direction. It can be any groups that you are
00:26:01.020 --> 00:26:03.660
Juilee Decker: Connected to. So what is your thought on that.
00:26:05.310 --> 00:26:13.980
Marcellus Morris: Different group. So I'm a part of us. I kind of started my own group called
Ray for life and that's my groups build on.
00:26:14.790 --> 00:26:23.070
Marcellus Morris: On that group and we just individuals they want

change in the community. Some of them know sometimes I can't pay him. Sometimes I can pay
him but they still rock out
00:26:23.940 --> 00:26:28.050
Marcellus Morris: There. Tell me what things they want to show up to and what things they don't
want to show up to
00:26:28.860 --> 00:26:36.000
Marcellus Morris: Know a lot of them don't like to police at all you know saying so they don't want
to show to know police functions on meetings and stuff like that but I'm
00:26:36.720 --> 00:26:49.860
Marcellus Morris: 53 YEARS OLD DAYS, WE DON'T HAVE police. So we met a better get to
know some of them. So when something happened. We can weaken. Now we can go to them
with the information. Hopefully they'll do something about it.
00:26:51.270 --> 00:26:51.600
Marcellus Morris: Oh,
00:26:52.680 --> 00:27:00.600
Marcellus Morris: So, you know, different groups restored of justice is one of my biggest groups
healing circles. That's one of the biggest things that I have push
00:27:01.080 --> 00:27:04.920
Marcellus Morris: And try to get inside the community because we have these healing circles.
00:27:05.880 --> 00:27:12.150
Marcellus Morris: stuff comes out and I'm saying that you really get to know the person, the person
gets to know you and and that becomes a safe place.
00:27:12.600 --> 00:27:26.010
Marcellus Morris: And if you can develop those type of healing circles with they can affect the
whole community. So I'm just trying to get the buy in from the different entities on and now
everything that through zoom. So it's a little more complex.

00:27:27.270 --> 00:27:34.950
Marcellus Morris: Our population. We don't really like zoom the computers and stuff like that.
You don't saying, yeah, yeah. Oh no, gotta deal with a lot of that.
00:27:36.210 --> 00:27:39.510
Marcellus Morris: Biggest group. I'll part of this is the human race, you know,
00:27:40.530 --> 00:27:53.310
Marcellus Morris: Really when we start separating ourselves with different groups. That's how
did all this division comes about. And I'm saying, we can just keep the focus on. We all humans
that have bring some of that that man is now. No, I'm saying, and that differential
00:27:54.390 --> 00:28:03.120
Marcellus Morris: Mean we can't speak about these times and COVID and Black Lives Matter
without without speaking about Trump and divisiveness of what he has caused
00:28:03.570 --> 00:28:16.950
Marcellus Morris: Us to say he's building a bigger hole for us to get out of and one on the same
hand he's bringing out some people's true feelings on on both sides and
00:28:17.760 --> 00:28:26.490
Marcellus Morris: Somehow, it has to be immediate and hopefully we can get over the selection get
over this this race ride that seemed like ruin us away and
00:28:27.090 --> 00:28:35.580
Marcellus Morris: Move on to some sort of peace and resolution now for us, we've not seen
before, you know, the kids that we won't leave behind, eventually, hopefully.
00:28:36.000 --> 00:28:48.450
Marcellus Morris: We want to leave behind a better place not have such a divisive place because
it's a red we hear glasses here Latinos is here, white people here Indian here all human. We are
00:28:49.680 --> 00:28:49.920

Marcellus Morris: Yeah.
00:28:53.190 --> 00:28:55.830
Juilee Decker: Question, question five says
00:28:56.910 --> 00:29:08.250
Juilee Decker: What word and it can be two words or whatever, would you use to describe your
feeling at the beginning of the pandemic and then what word would you use to describe it now.
00:29:15.540 --> 00:29:18.300
Marcellus Morris: In the beginning, what would be a horrible.
00:29:20.730 --> 00:29:21.720
Marcellus Morris: At the end of it.
00:29:23.550 --> 00:29:26.760
Marcellus Morris: At the end right now today today.
00:29:29.010 --> 00:29:33.750
Marcellus Morris: And maybe it's just because my blessings, or whatever the case may be hopeful.
00:29:40.470 --> 00:29:41.310
Juilee Decker: I understand that.
00:29:43.980 --> 00:29:49.980
Juilee Decker: Question six is, is there anything else you would like to share about your code story.
00:29:53.100 --> 00:30:05.520
Marcellus Morris: One part of the story. I left out when I lost that building. I was on homeless
because I have a good relationship with my baby mother and they took the office family. So I would
kind of living in the office and much
00:30:07.110 --> 00:30:17.220
Marcellus Morris: So for being out there homeless. The other homes, people can see in the
prejudices of the virus. I mean, the simple thing is going to 711 trying to charge your phone.

00:30:18.570 --> 00:30:21.450
Marcellus Morris: Almost became an incident where they wanted to call the police.
00:30:22.590 --> 00:30:29.250
Marcellus Morris: Going to the bathroom in the restaurant was like, you know, going to the bank with
a loaded gun.
00:30:31.470 --> 00:30:38.820
Marcellus Morris: And just knowing that type of all being around in those type of situations and
being homeless and
00:30:39.390 --> 00:30:44.550
Marcellus Morris: You know some of the people knew what I was going through it and being
that I'm in this area so much know
00:30:45.480 --> 00:30:54.810
Marcellus Morris: They know so I have relationships with some of the prior. They may be
addicted or whatever. So I was in the mix with them, no say in a show me the ropes, like here.
00:30:55.140 --> 00:31:07.140
Marcellus Morris: Is the building, you can sleep right here and banners by here. So when I was in
that situation. I figured out how to make that situation better by getting the generated by having
people next door. ONE ON ONE OF WATER la
00:31:08.160 --> 00:31:13.830
Marcellus Morris: I was driving. So I was able to take us to get something to eat food whatever
case like that we needed for the day.
00:31:14.400 --> 00:31:26.760
Marcellus Morris: But eventually, when you're around addicts and that type of homeless
homelessness and addiction and mental health. I think all go hand in hand. And when you were in
that type of environment. I figured out that some people don't want like
00:31:28.320 --> 00:31:38.280
Marcellus Morris: Like the first thing that got missing was to generate in the generator brings light to
a situation, but afterwards, I will

ask that they wanted to be in that darkness.
00:31:39.420 --> 00:31:52.380
Marcellus Morris: That's why they want to get rid of the light is still my people, to this day, you know
I'm saying, I mean, I still pull up on I'll give them $1 here to me or someone I get free food. I'll take
right to the situations are known to you.
00:31:53.100 --> 00:31:56.460
Marcellus Morris: And now, my dad taught me a valuable lesson. Emily judge people
00:31:57.720 --> 00:32:11.610
Marcellus Morris: You know, you have to have for the two down here. And as I said in the beginning
God continue to bless me because nobody really would have known that I was homeless by
move, but except for the homeless people motorcycle. So again, don't
00:32:12.690 --> 00:32:18.390
Marcellus Morris: have fellowship with someone like Conrad is stuck in the streets. Can I still try to
reach back
00:32:19.140 --> 00:32:19.530
00:32:21.420 --> 00:32:34.020
Juilee Decker: I like the word he is there. Marcellus just now. The word fellowship. I like, I like that
word. That's a, that's a, that's a good way to describe. That's a one word to use to describe what
you just explained to me.
00:32:35.100 --> 00:32:39.030
Juilee Decker: I appreciate that. Is there anything else you would like to say
00:32:39.510 --> 00:32:45.840
Marcellus Morris: No, I appreciate it. Hopefully, you know, we can continue to dialogue and be
in touch with each other and build from there.
00:32:46.260 --> 00:32:47.340

Juilee Decker: I would love that. Thank you.

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