In light of February being recognized as Black History Month, a month where our heritage, ancestors, and leaders are being acknowledged for their legacies, such as the late Harriet Tubman for her bravery and resistance, for risking her life and leading hundreds of men and women to freedom via the Underground Railroad. Another notable name is the late George Washington Carver who discovered three hundred uses for peanuts, including peanut butter. I also have to mention the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. honoring his stance on civil rights and equality. So many honorable African American men and women played a significant role in moving America forward.
Recently I had the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with Prince Georges County’s very own former politician, now self declared activist Greg Hall, a man who is looking to follow the footsteps of the aforementioned African-Americans and lead America forward in his own right.
It was a very cold, yet sunny Friday afternoon, the meeting took place at Silver Springs Maryland Society Restaurant & Lounge. The atmosphere was very chic and trendy, somewhat of an intimate space, where one can chill and enjoy some good cuisine.
Of course, I made it my priority to arrive to the location, before my guest arrived. Slightly nervous that the location could have been too trendy, after all he is a politician right? As I am sitting back sipping on my Roy Rodgers, mentally preparing for what’s about to go down, the smooth sounds of Al Green comes on “Tired of Being Lonely,” fills the atmosphere with a mellow vibe.
In comes Greg Hall casually dressed in a pair of jeans, a nice fitted red sweater, a black hat, black boots and a black jacket. Not the typical get up for a politician, his attire was perfect. I was prepared to meet the real person behind all the politics, controversy, and the suit and tie. Immediately I said to myself, Mr. Hall is mad cool. As I stood to formally meet Mr. Hall, he greeted me with a friendly smile.
Parlé Magazine: So, tell me about yourself. Who is Greg Hall?
Greg Hall: Greg Hall… is A laid back type of guy that’s really about changing our community as far as activism. Making sure everyone is being played with, on a fair scale, playing field as well, an advocate for our youth. I believe regardless of circumstances we can always bounce back to be a better person. I am a father, a husband and a business owner. I don’t really like to call myself a politician; I just like to say that I am a person that really cares about the people, the wellbeing of the people in the community.
Parlé: How many children do you have?
G. Hall: All together I have five children.
Parlé: Wonderful, you have a big family.
G. Hall: It’s a unique story behind the five.
G. Hall: My oldest son, Demetrius is 23 he is my godson. I raised him since he was two years old. I have two biological children, Ajalia who is 18, Skylar who is 15. And my wife has two kids, Kaden and Bobbi, 13 and 5.
Parlé: Big family.
G. Hall: Yes, big family.
Parlé: Were you born in Cheverly, MD?
G. Hall: I am from Chapel Oats. Cheverly was more for the white families and establishments. Chapel Oats was for the Blacks. I grew up on the Black side.
Parlé: So that’s home?
G. Hall: That’s always going to be home. Still is home. I took over my mom’s house after my parents passed away recently.
Parlé: My condolences. What was it like for you growing up? Such as your childhood and adolescence? What was life like for a young Greg Hall?
G. Hall: I was always a leader. Ever since I was a young man, I knew I had the power of influence over the other kids. I would never forget how the principal used to let me go home when I was in high school, allowing me to take my finals before everyone else.
G. Hall: Yes, the principal would tell my mother “look don’t allow him to come back to school. Greg has the influence to make this school straight narrow or he could start a riot in here. It’s best that he go ahead home.
Parlé: Oh wow! Did you play sports?
G. Hall: I was very athletic but I never played sports, I played for a go-go band. I was one of the original members of Northeast Grover’s. I was the rapper for the band when I was in high school.
Parlé: That’s very cool. Are you still a fan of go-go music?
G. Hall: I still like go-go music; it’s not like how it use to be. But I am still a fan.
Parlé: What challenges did you face growing up?
G. Hall: Well, you know the challenges that many kids may face today. I was always a popular kid. And because I was the only child, most of the families had more than one kid in the household, I was able to have more. My parents worked and provided for me, which allowed me to have things that the other neighborhood children didn’t have.
Parlé: I see…
G. Hall: Some of the kids did not have, I had to learn how to fight for the things that were mine. Because growing in an area like that where the kids did not have, the kids wanted to take what was mine. So those were some of my challenges.
Parlé: Do you believe that there is a disconnect between the youth and the leaders of today?
G. Hall: It’s a big disconnect. The youth of today are growing up in society and doing things with no purpose. When I was younger and growing up… I sold drugs and it was wrong. A lot of people had purpose and reason for why they were doing it. Whether ones mother did not have, or to support a family.
Parlé: Please explain.
G. Hall: The youth of today have a lot of opportunities to do great things. Unfortunately, some choose that street life having no life purpose. Believe it or not, most of the young people that are taking that path of drug dealing come from middle class households, nice homes where parents are able to provide for them. It’s the way that society has put that stigma on what’s accepted and what is not, and that’s the big disconnect.
Parlé: I can see your passion.
G. Hall: This is one of the reasons I felt like I was good at being a legislator, because we need to bridge the gap within our community. Not just for the youth and the adults, but Black people in itself. We are very different from each other, because we stereotype each other. My father always said, nobody wants to be from the hood, but everybody wants to be in the hood. It’s meaning behind that, when trouble comes, the first word you call out is the hood you grew up in or the family you grew up in.
Parlé: So how do you think we can mend that? A lot of politicians can’t connect to the majority of the youth and urban city youth of today. For example, many youth are walking around in high schools with ankle bracelets on, and then you have a lot of teen parents. You really have to be someone special, who will not pass judgment, level with them, and speak their language. So how do we mend that?
G. Hall: Well can I be real honest?
Parlé: By all means.
G. Hall: We have to tell the truth. The parents have to tell the truth, and then society has to tell the truth. We are sending two different messages to our children everyday. We are telling them not to participate in certain activities. Such as selling drugs, or violence. And yet we allow these radio stations to play the music that glorify it everyday.
Parlé: And the videos…
G. Hall: Yes, the videos. So what messages are we sending the kids? The images of rappers and their lifestyle look prominent in our community. It’s not the doctors or the lawyers that the kids are looking up too. It’s about sports or entertainment of some sought. So now a kid is trying to get to that level. We have shows like Housewives, showing the success of the husbands being businessmen. Then we have our black reality shows, showing some level of success being affiliated with sports or entertainment. It sends a message to our children that the only way we are going to make it in this United States of America, is that they have to be associated with some type of foolishness or do something crazy.