CHICAGO (CBS) — Tenisha Taylor Bell was only five years old when her father Ezekiel Taylor was robbed and murdered on Chicago’s South side.
“It was April 23rd, 1982. My father was coming back from speaking at church and he stopped for food. He was then robbed for his car. His was shot and killed and his body was found a few blocks down on Stoney Island behind a hotel,” said Bell.
WBBM’s Lisa Fielding reports, Taylor father’s killers were only 15, 19 and 21 years old. Bell says Chicago’s recent upsurge in gun violence prompted her to do something for her hometown.
“I am a writer and producer and I’ve been writing a lot about the violence in Chicago. I’ve had a few friends killed by gun violence so it’s very personal to me. The last article I wrote was about why I chose to raise my son in Atlanta. I said to myself, I need to stop writing about it, talking about it, I need to actually do something about this,” she said. “I had some people say move home and do something about it.”
So today, she launched the Ezekiel Taylor Scholarship Foundation in her father’s name, initially making the announcement on her Facebook page.
“In January I had a vision to help people make better choices in life. They all don’t have to go to college, they can go to technical school, a two year school. This foundation will help build a gap for the young boy who may not always access the academic scholarship, because they’re not the A or B student. Maybe their the C or D student or they dropped out and he’s trying to get his GED and needs extra funding for the education to pursue a certificate in something.”
These students are often forced to make hard life decisions. Bell wants them to choose education.
“We want to fill that gap and making sure that we provide an avenue to the kids who are sometimes overlooked.”
The Foundation is now accepting applications online at eztaylor.org. Boys must be African American who live in Cook County. As part of the application, they must write an essay about how gun violence has affected their lives.
“The gun violence has impacted us all who live in Chicago. How have we altered our lives because of it. The scholarship will depend on the essay that you write and your interview with the board. We are looking for the average student,” said Bell. “The younger the better because we are trying to reach them when they are making tough choices. Juniors and seniors in high school who are looking for what’s next in their lives, their careers.”
Bell says they are currently looking for sponsors and have begun fundraising. Scholarships will be awarded next spring and the scholars will be introduced at a special gala.
“We want to say here’s a check to say we believe in you. Here is a mentor that says we believe in you. This is my opportunity to provide that base and give back for these individuals who may not have it at home. I was blessed in a family that supported education and often times we have to look beyond our families and help others.”
“I know he’d be proud that I’m keeping the Taylor name alive and doing something good. He has to be smiling down and saying that is my daughter.”