I gesture towards Gilpin Court, craggy and salmon-colored in the distance. “What do you see, when you look over there?” I ask. Fuad Fara, employee and chef at ANA, Gilpin Court’s only deli and convenience store, barely turns around. He grins, sly and sunny. “I see a business opportunity,” Fara says.
The forced estrangement is evident even in the landscape. Flourishing Jackson Ward boasts manicured front lawns and pruned bushes. Flowering trees line the streets, bursts of color are on display in porch-side pots. As I walk down the sidewalks, I imagine self-satisfied residents swapping gardening tips with their neighbours. On the other side of the highway, Gilpin Court resident Lee Basin is quick to reassure me of his neighborhood’s equivalent beauty.
Anthony Leonard is a bull underneath his soft edges, hiding in plain sight. On most days, the former San Francisco 49ers cornerback plays pick-up basketball with kids at a resource center in Gilpin Court, a government housing project in the heart of Jackson Ward.