Cure the Violence: A Visit with Jerome Lawson, Director of Cure the ViolenceMay 04, 2023 11:15AM ● By Bill Evans
When you meet Jerome Lawson for the first time, you are instantly impressed with the way he carries himself. Talking to Jerome, you can hear his passion for his mission to help a struggling Columbus be part of the solution. That wasn't how he grew up. In fact, Jerome is upfront about the fact that he was part of the problem before he was able to turn his life around.
Born in Baker Village by home delivery in January 1982, his biological dad left when his mom was pregnant. He always considered his mom a queen, but she had a drug addiction. She was still his mom, and nothing diminished his love for her. Jerome grew up in Baker Village, South Side Apartments, Fort Benning Rd., and Winston Rd. His stepdad was a drug dealer who stepped in and raised him. It was a life of brokenness from the day he was born.
At age sixteen, Jerome committed an armed robbery and was sentenced to 20 years with a 10-year mandatory sentence. While in the county jail, he bought a GED book from a cellmate for two packs of cookies. He studied the course book until he was shipped to prison at the young age of seventeen. At 18, Jerome Lawson received his GED.
I asked Jerome about those years that led him to serve ten years. "You become a product of what you are around. I didn't have parents who would wake me up for school or make sure I had something to eat or wear. That was all left up to me. What teachers might think was an unruly kid or someone out of control or not interested in what they were teaching. That was me being hungry or angry at not having anyone for support."
Jerome said it best, "On your end, you see me as a problem. On my end, I'm just processing what I must do to survive. I didn't even know how to ask for help."
I was impressed speaking with Jerome, and when you meet him, you will be impressed too. He's very upfront about his upbringing. When I asked him what turned his life around, he knew the answer. "My purpose is the word. And conviction is one of those words. Everyone is governed by their environment. I realized that I don't have to live like this. I can love people even though they may not show me love."
In prison, Jerome gained several trades and was even on the debate team. He took many courses that contributed to his success after he got released. Jerome was released from prison at the age of 26, and he has never been in any trouble since. But that is not the end of his story. It really is the beginning.