TERRY DEAN ASKS: What person or persons have most influenced your life?

 Ald. Smith’s Back to School Parade Laramie and Madison

Ronald Jackson

“It’s got to be a group, for me. When I meet individuals on the street, they all can be influential to me, whether they’re a stranger or not. So for me to say one name, I can’t do that. People in general are influential. It can be positive or negative. I work it out and take the best from what I can get from whoever it is at the time. Strangers or anybody.”

Victor Reid

“The most influential person in my life is my big brother (Arian Richmond) because he’s always there when I need him. I mean, we’re not really kin; we don’t have the same blood, but I met this guy a long time ago. We’ve been knowing each other for a while and things just clicked, and it’s been that way ever since. And you know; I haven’t met a better person. If I didn’t have a real brother, I’d rather it be him. That’s what I feel from my heart.”

Leo McCord

“Actually, there have been two people that have been extremely influential in my life. That’s my mother, Josephine McCord, and Paul Adams, the president/principal of St. Mel High School. I’ve know Mr. Adams since 1973. With the work that Mr. Adams has done with primarily African-American children here on the West Side of Chicago for the past 25 to 30 years is phenomenal. Every student that graduates from Providence St. Mel is guaranteed to go to a 4-year college. [Critics] claim that we’re behind the times and we can’t do this or we can’t do that. But the bottom line is Paul Adams has proven that it works and that we are a working people.

Ald. Ed Smith

“My mother. She was a very dedicated woman to her children, and she was a fine example for what a mother ought to be. She gave me the right direction and was there to support me all along. I didn’t have a daddy. I was the last of 12 children, but she was a tremendous mother who really cared and wanted me to do the right thing. She directed me in the right direction and somehow I grabbed it. And then I had some teachers who were tremendously concerned and attentive. They were always around and gave me good support. I had that all throughout grammar school, high school and college. They made their mark on me and I realized that what they were telling me was the right thing. I tried to adhere to as much of it as I could. I was pretty tenacious in terms of trying to make sure to grab as much as I could.”

State Rep. Annazette Collins

“Well, my parents-my mom and dad were both influential in my life. They always were encouraging me to do this and do that because I always had all these ideas, and they kept saying ‘You can do it; You can do it.’ And then my grandparents. When I grew up I had two grandparents-a grandfather and a great-grandmother. They were all telling me what I could and could not do. And then all of my teachers from kindergarten through eighth grade. I got a little discouraged because I thought my seventh-grade teacher didn’t like me. But she wound up double-promoting me, and she said, ‘I was just challenging you to do better.’ So, it was older people in my circle-my family, my Sunday school teachers, my church members-everybody was pushing me and encouraging me. They saw something in me and wanted me to be better.”

Delores McCain is still recovering from her illness. You can email her at dmccain@wjinc.com or mail cards to AWN c/o Delores McCain, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302.