Interview with Bridgette, conducted by Joann Self Selvidge for The Juvenile Project (TJP) on April 19, 2017 in Memphis, TN.
Bridgette: My son name is Cedric and I'm his mother, Bridgette.
Joann: Awesome. What were you thinking when he was talking about his story?
Bridgette: I thought he was telling the truth and being honest.
Joann: How did you feel when all this stuff happened and they said they were going to take him away?
Bridgette: I wasn't here. I was out of town visiting my mom and my daughter. She called my other son and she told me.
Joann: What was your first reaction?
Bridgette: My first reaction, what happened? What happened? What went on? When I got home and my husband told me he stole the car and I said, "Why you let him go like that?" Go outside and messing with the wrong crew. I don't know.
Joann: Did you ever get to go out and visit him?
Joann: Tell me about what was your take on that environment and what that was like?
Bridgette: When I called juvenile, they didn't have him. The [inaudible 00:01:14] had him in custody.
Bridgette: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And then they took him to juvenile because they said they don't have him right now so call back in about an hour and I did that and they had him.
Joann: That was when you just found out.
Bridgette: Yeah and I went down there and they told me they had him in custody.
Joann: Okay. Did you get a chance to talk to his attorney?
Joann: Tell me about that experience.
Bridgette: She was real nice. She talked to him when he was locked up and told him, "Why did you do that?," and "What made you do that?" And he just ... I don't know what he said but I was just heartbreaken, you know? My son? Because I was looking for him to go to school, play basketball, and do something with your career.
Joann: When you were talking with the attorney, were you able to ever actually meet with the attorney while with Cedric?
Bridgette: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Joann: How did she explain the situation to you?
Bridgette: She talked to him for a long time and told him to stay out of trouble and don't mess with the wrong crowd and go to school. Get your education.
Joann: Because he was saying that he had a couple of different options.
Joann: Did the attorney explain to you what those options were or did she just tell you after the fact? Who got to make the decision about "I'm going to do this," or "I'm going to do that?"
Bridgette: He did. When I went to court with him, they told him his rights. The judge make sure that he know his rights and I was quiet. He told me don't say nothing and he said, "You know your rights?" He said, "No." And then the judge told him his rights and told him, "Is you a parent?" I said yes and he told me he going to keep him in there for a while. I told him I wanted him to go to Job Corps but he said he know something better for him and then he went on to Wilder, Somerville.
Joann: He had this experience a couple of years ago with a firecracker.
Bridgette: Yeah, at school and I was shocked when I heard. The school call me and I was out and about and then I got a phone call. "What you doing popping a firecracker at school? You don't supposed to have that." He said he got it from his friends. I don't know. Because I know I didn't give it to him. I ain't even buy none so he got it from one of his friends.
Joann: Tell me about what happened. Did you go to the court with him on that one?
Bridgette: No. They suspended him and I had to take him to ... Had to clear the suspension for 100 and something days. He missed out on school.
Joann: He had to miss 100 days of school?
Joann: Because he shot off a firecracker?
Bridgette: Yeah. Because you know the other kid, they thought I was a gun but it wasn't a gun. You know firecracker sound like a gun so they was shocked. The principal said he shouldn't have that and they suspended him.
Joann: What did he do all that time?
Joann: What was he doing all that ... ?
Bridgette: All that time I tried to ... They sent him to another school. It was on a [inaudible 00:05:00] Prep and they sent him and in a behaving school.
Joann: He didn't talk to me about that experience. What was he telling you about that experience?
Bridgette: That experience, when I took him, it was like a middle school and he did his work and he catched the bus home. He did what he supposed to do at school. I went up there and talked to the principal. He a good child. No fighting or nothing. He was fine and just missed too many days out of school.
Joann: Did you ever get a chance to go over to Jeff and meet any of them?
Bridgette: Yeah. They was real nice. They talked to him and he graduated from there. All the mentors loved him. They said he a respectable child. He got a lot of interests and he stayed in [inaudible 00:05:57]. He liked that. Like a big brother program.
Joann: Awesome. Y'all have an awesome family unit here.
Joann: Tell me about that. I know it's hard. There's so many people now that have broken homes and people are split up so what's your secret?
Bridgette: Just keep it going. Keep it going. Make sure they go on the right path.
Joann: How about your other kids? Are they-
Bridgette: They fine. They fine. They just want everything they see. Money, clothes, shoes. They got to get out of here and jobs and manage they money. [inaudible 00:06:42]. Stop asking everybody and get out there and get it yourself. Open up a savings account or something like that.
Joann: How about your older son? He's still in school.
Bridgette: Yeah. 12th grade. This his last year. I hope, if he pass the test.
Joann: Does he have any plans to get out and get working? Is he working?
Bridgette: No, not right now. He trying to get a summer job. Trying to find something.
Joann: He's going to be graduating-
Bridgette: Yeah, this year.
Joann: In a couple of months.
Joann: In a month. That's great. I commend you. I mean I'm pressed. It's hard to keep one kid in line let alone four.
Bridgette: Yeah, four.
Joann: How old's the youngest one?
Bridgette: 14. She 14. She talk me to death.
Joann: She's the baby.
Bridgette: Yeah. She spoiled. Want everything she see.
Joann: She's got three older brothers to keep her in line too.
Bridgette: She be trying to tell them what to do. Ask them for money. "Y'all need to give me some money."
Joann: Did any of them drive? Cedric said he still hadn't gotten a driver's license.
Bridgette: No, not yet. I got him a book. He just got to study the book.
Joann: Okay. Do y'all have a car? He said his grandmother comes and-
Bridgette: Take us places. We had a car but it got messed up.
Joann: Do y'all have any kind of access to public transportation here?
Joann: That's about it-
Bridgette: That's about it.
Joann: You've got a bus?
Joann: Who's mom is it? Your mom or his dad's mom?
Bridgette: His mom. My mom in Texas.
Joann: He said that he grew up in Greenlaw. Is that ...
Bridgette: That's like a gym that they went to when they was real young and stuff and they got to know all the kids around the neighborhood and they helped him out with his homework and all. They got computer class that helped them out a lot too with his homework.
Joann: That's a community center, right?
Bridgette: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Joann: That's not around here though.
Bridgette: No. It's over there on the Chelsea. All the way down Chelsea on Fifth Street. We stayed on Fifth. He was closer to there.
Joann: When did y'all move here?
Bridgette: About two years ago. We stayed on Empire and we moved over here. So they know the neighborhood real good.
Joann: That's still pretty close.
Bridgette: Yeah. It's still close.
Joann: As a mom just being there for your son, when did you feel like you got the most respect from the people that were handling the situation with your son?
Bridgette: Jeff and the program he just got out of because if he would've talked ... I guess because it ain't too much family here, you know all my folks in Texas and they would've talked to him. It ain't too much family down here. Because if he would've had uncles and aunties to talk to him ...
Joann: Did you feel like you ever had a voice in the process?
Bridgette: Yeah. Cedric, he'll listen, pay attention, and he just needed that somebody to look up to.
Joann: [inaudible 00:10:17] is probably different. It just doesn't have them like your mom and your dad. It's like somebody else, like you said. More like uncles and aunts and stuff.
Bridgette: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Joann: What part of the whole experience would you want to be different?
Bridgette: For him to be independent and focus on his career.
Joann: Other than Cedric though, all the other moving parts he had like juvenile and he had the court system and he had the attorneys and the social workers and then the facility out at Wilder. What part of that was the hardest for you or the thing that you would want to change? If you'd had to go through it all over again, what was the hardest part of it?
Bridgette: Him being locked up. I hate to see him being locked up. I wish I was there for him to talk to him, give him that guidance.
Joann: You mean like at juvenile and then also at Wilder or just being away?
Bridgette: No. They was like just to guide him the right way, a job and you know. Followa job. Going to church. Something positive. Do something positive besides being out, be hanging with your friends.
Joann: Does he have any good friends? The positive influences?
Bridgette: Well, so-so. It depends who he ... The person or his friends because he got a lot of them. More than 10 so lot of them.
Joann: When you said when he was locked up, you mean down at juvenile?
Joann: Were you able to actually go and see him when he was locked up?
Bridgette: Yeah. I might've did about two or three times because I had other children to look after.
Joann: How long was he there before they transferred him?
Bridgette: About four or five, six ... About four or five weeks or something like that.
Joann: That was a long time.
Bridgette: Yeah because he got locked up on my son birthday and I came home. I was looking forward to see him. I ain't see him.
Joann: What would your advice be to other parents?
Bridgette: For other parents, be there for them and make sure they go get on the right track and stay in school. Be very respectful for grownups.
Joann: Was there anything else you want to add?
Joann: You've been awesome. Thank you so much.