Everyone has a turning point. For Corey Brooks, the pastor of New Beginnings Church in Chicago, it happened last year when he was presiding over the funeral of a young black man who had been shot and killed in gang-related violence. As his family members entered the church, a rival gang began shooting at them. After the service, Brooks, determined to take action that would be noticed, ascended to the rooftop of an abandoned building next door to his church, pitched a tent, and began a sit-in protest to raise money to erect a community center for his non-profit.
We sent Adewole Abioye, our Chicago-based filmmaker fellow, to cover Brooks’ day-to-day struggle on the roof and his ultimate victory in changing the way his community responds to violence. His rooftop vigil lasted 94 days, with a final donation from actor-director Tyler Perry, helping him reach his goal and raise $450,000.