Photos by Melanie L. Brown for Steed Media Service
Rolling out interviewed Victor Love, owner of the legendary Captain Hard Times Restaurant about a new organization the restaurant houses called Breaking Bread. Breaking Bread was created by a diverse group of Black men to help young Black men. The founding members of the organization are Victor Love, Touissant Werner, TJ Crawford, Revin Fellows, Brad Riddick, Holden Hodges and Monte Rollerson.
Read on to find out what Victor Love told us about the organization.
What is Breaking Bread?
Breaking Bread was organized and formed because we found that men have not been taking their rightful place in the community to help the young men in the community. We don’t see strong Black men standing up. We see women in the community leading certain causes but the community needs to see more men lead. Chicago is leading the nation with homicides [and] dealing with Black-on-Black homicides, as well as with police homicides. We in Breaking Bread weren’t going to lay down for it anymore. Crime is notorious on 79th Street and this is where we birthed Breaking Bread. The brotherhood and this fellowship of men are willing to come back and reclaim our communities. We’re reaching out to the young men of this community and we’re not talking about the A or B student, we’re talking about the dropout, the boy that’s on drugs, the boys that are real as they like to say “at risk” and are causing risk and harm to other people that is a detriment to the economic activity in our communities. We’re losing Black-owned businesses at an all-time rate in our community as a result of the violence because people don’t feel safe to come into our own communities and shop. We as Breaking Bread are committed to embracing, engaging and making a real impact in the lives of young African American men and with that being said, by any means necessary.
How many men are a part of this group?
Right now we probably have about 60-plus affiliate members who want to give back. We’re talking about all genres of men from corporate men, entrepreneurial Black men, professional men and men who’ve had their time in the streets. We have those from the joint that have come back and now realize they have to take responsibility for these matters. We believe when men stand up, boys sit down. I, with no disrespect, believe Breaking Bread is the new Black Panther movement for Black men.
When was the group formed?
The men met in 2015 at a Laquan McDonald press conference in early October. We organized a week after that.
What’s a short-term goal that you want to see happen?
Breaking Bread was created and designed to engage and embrace these young men out here. We felt like what better way to do that than actually breaking bread, having them have some dialogue, sitting down and eating some good food. Some of the boys out here are homeless and they don’t get a balanced meal. They eat Flamin’ Hots and at various fast-food locations every day for their diets. We provide quality food in a great establishment with linen napkins and china, not eating out of a box or paper container. Like my brother Touissant always likes to say that we gotta love and we gotta show these brothers some real love that they can feel this meal, this dinner and we’re giving it to them out of love. We hope with that to develop their trust and their acceptance to some pathways that we can get them down. Some of these brothers are out of school and we want to get them back in school and we want to get them back in school because we do know a lack of education means incarceration. We understand some of these brothers haven’t been to the doctor in months or even years, walking around with stuff in their mouths. We want to get them back into a physical[ly] [healthy] space as well. We’re working with various hospitals trying to make sure they get medical cards so that they can go get proper services if we have to take them by the hand, drive them over there or give them a bus card. We want to guide them to education, employment and to life skills.
Where do you find the young men?
Our particular goal is 14-24 years old and we’re concentrating in the 6th district, 24th beat, which is right down 79th Street. The 79th being one of the most notorious streets in Chicago. I serve as the president of the 79th Street Business Corridor. We’ve been putting in work in the community trying to promote safety and unity amongst the business owners. I have some big brothers behind me now where we can stronghold the business owners to hire these young men. If they don’t they will have to close their doors and we build something there. We’re getting brothers to come from all communities. We will have branches of Breaking Bread that will be popping up all around the city and across this nation because we do believe we’re on to something very special.
Are any women allowed?
No, we love y’all sisters, y’all can pray for us and drop a check off. You all can bring us resources that you think can help us help these young men.
What are some of the group’s accomplishments?
We just launched a citywide initiative campaign called 200 Black Foster Fathers and we of Breaking Bread are recruiting Black men to become foster fathers in our communities because if we do that, we get ahead of the curve. We’re really working out of three lanes of working with these young men.
Are you all going to become legitimate foster parents?
Legitimate. We’re working with the Department of Children and Family Services. They are so impressed that they are going to bring all the training to us. There are over 16.000 African American kids in the DCFS system and in any given month there are 1,000 kids [that] need to be placed in a home and that’s [ust] local. If we get a 7-, 8-, 9-, or 10-year-old boy and they get under this kind of training, this kind of love, this kind of example, they will never become why we even formed in the first place. They will be young men that are going to school. They will be young men that are wearing their pants up. They will be young men that are politically and socially awake. They will be spiritual young men also. We believe education will go up as a result of that, gun violence will go down, drug addiction will go down and hurting will stop. We know a lot of shorties have babies. There will be no more abandonment. If you made a baby and you’re 15 or 14, we’re going to show you how to be responsible for what you produced.
Do you have any events coming up?
The day before Father’s Day we are working with the 79th Street Corridor Business Association to help celebrate their second annual Safe Summer Series Kickoff with a Peace and Safety Walk on June 18 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. from the Taylor Funeral Home and end at the Regal Theater with a rally.