CHICAGO – Pastor Corey Brooks woke up on New Year's Day with thoughts on the lessons learned in 2021 that he wished to share with his readers. Saturday marks the 42nd day of his 100-day rooftop vigil to reduce violence by building a community center that will increase the equality of opportunity for those living on the South Side of Chicago.
What follows has been lightly edited. We strongly encourage you to watch the accompanying video so you may hear the pastor in his own words.
Hello, everybody. Can you believe it? I'm still here and it's a new year, that’s right. My name is Pastor Corey Brooks and I'm here on this rooftop for 100 days from Nov. 20 to Feb. 28. I have been living in this tent right behind me on this block that we call O-Block. The reason why we call it O-Block is because it's named after young man named O.D. Perry who was shot and killed. The gangs picked up his name and started calling it O-Block. We decided we are going to keep the "O" and "Opportunity Block" is what we're gonna call it. And I can't wait.
I am so excited about this year, but I've learned some valuable lessons in 2021 that I wanted to share.
I learned that, one, you can never give up and that life will hit you. Things will come at you. Life has a way of just giving you all that it has, but whatever you do, you can't throw in the towel. You can't give up and quit. You can't jump off some bridge, slit your wrists, take amphetamines and drugs, trying to get over your problems. You cannot give up and quit.
I have learned, also, in 2021, that you gotta make adjustments, that that life is full of twists and turns. And sometimes you just gotta learn to roll with the punches. You gotta learn how to adjust.
But one of the biggest lessons I learned in 2021 is that sometimes you gotta ask for help. 2021 was a year of asking for help for me. I have asked people all around the country to help me to build this building for our Project H.O.O.D. community center. And that was very challenging for me — I am a very prideful person. I like to do things independently, but there are some things that you just can't do alone. God won’t let you do them alone.
My hope for this year, for 2022, is for people to become more hopeful. I think a lot of Americans feel hopeless and frustrated and powerless. I think a lot of us have become jaded and selfish and we are getting and protecting what we feel like is ours. There is a lot of mistrust in today's world. A lot of cynicism. That's why civility is decreasing.
And I want to take this time to remind all of us of that American spirit that America was built upon that has changed the world. I want to remind all of us of that power of togetherness, of that unity that can make the world a much better place. I want to remind you that in this year things are going to come up. Things are going to hit you and twists and turns are going to come, but adjust, and ask for help.
Don't give up and, together, in 2022, with a sense of unity and purpose, we can make life better. And we muster up that spirit that America was built upon, that spirit of unity, that spirit of passion and power and purposefulness. Together, we can make America what it is intended to be. And I'll be able to build this center on the south side of Chicago to help a whole lot of people.
God bless you and Happy New Year.