OUR STORY: STRAIGHT FROM THE GO
Chicago is the greatest city in the world
It is referred to by some as The Second City, The Windy City, and Chi-town. To MY generation it is fondly known as The GO.
I created the phrase/movement “Straight From The Go” to dispel the belief that Chicago is by nature a violent city that has no interest in creating a safe community where citizens can live in peace and harmony. I was determined to make a difference by changing the image of my great city and rejecting the name Chi-Raq.
Smith, a Cum Laude graduate of The University of Missouri in Columbia and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., currently earning a second degree in textile apparel management (product development), created Straight From The Go while she was a 17-year-old National Honor Society student at Morgan Park High School. She felt it was her was civic pride that propelled her to transform the negative images associated with the city into something more positive. To date, Smith has spoken to countless audiences and received many awards, including being the youngest recipient of the Norman Bobbins award, for her commitment to creating positive change. A portion of all product sales is given to victims of gun violence and families of fallen first responders.
A.M.A (Ask Me Anything)
Tells us about what inspired you to start “Straight from the Go.”
Listening to the news reports daily with the death count rising from gun violence disturbed me. One day, while driving to school, it occurred to me…Straight From The GO…All GOOD things from Chicago. I envisioned the slogan to mirror the Chicago flag – One that represents working collaboratively as a community. l wanted to brand the city with a positive nickname if you will….A brand/movement that actually meant something. It was my dream to instill core values in all residents to make a difference. I wanted to change Chicago’s image and the outlook and opinion of outsiders and tourists.
Why do you think the movement has resonated with people?
I think people are trying to come together, to bring Chicago to a positive light. It is my belief that the majority of our residents have heard the cries of our city, our nation, and our world and they too are ready for change; Positive change. Everyone has been affected by crime or knows someone that has been. Most Chicagoans’ are ready to foster the image that Chicago is home to many who believe in doing good things for others, who want to help their neighbors, who work hard and are making a difference in this world.
Who has joined the “Straight from the GO” movement?
So many people have. Victims of violence, first responders, families of fallen officers, clergy, veterans, sports figures, and universities. Many people from different cities and states are wearing the shirt too, including New York, California, Wyoming, Atlanta, Montana, and San Francisco….The list goes on and on. It’s so exciting to see people wearing the shirts. It warms my heart. It reinforces the fact that other people want to support the message and understand what’s going on—they know what I’m trying to convey to everyone. Regardless of the struggle, the message is clear: together we can make a difference
How has what you’ve done impacted your community?
The message has been heard on the news and radio. Write-ups have been in several newspapers, web releases, and social media. The shirt is also being sold in several stores including O’hare airport. It has demanded the attention of thousands. The communities around the city have invited me to speak at different venues and events. Moreover, it has helped build bridges and bonds. It has allowed others to join hands in peace and harmony.
What advice would you give others who want to do good?
I encourage them to stand up for positive change. It doesn’t matter how old you are. Regardless of the struggle, the message is clear: together we can make a difference. We must embrace and find solutions so that the core values of Americans can truly penetrate every aspect of life. Step out on faith and others will help you.