This week is special: in addition to it being the inaugural Spotlight, we’re also highlighting Black History Month by recognizing someone who has been a productive member of the Divvy team since before we launched and who has deep roots in what it means to be African-American.
Maurice (he goes by “Moe” around here) started with Divvy in May 2013. Since joining the team, he has built stations, solar poles, and solar panels, he’s supervised a station testing team, he’s deployed and moved stations, he’s managed the station batteries, he’s moved bikes and collected inoperative bikes, he’s worked on the station maintenance team ensuring the stations look their best, and he’s fixed and rebuilt dock cassettes. He’s been busy around here!
1. What is your favorite or dream travel destination?
“I would go back go back to Thailand where I spent 3 months while in the Army. The scenery out in the country is just beautiful.There are some beautiful places on this planet out in rural areas, you have to stay out of the city and away from the tourist traps. These people don’t even deal with cars and TVs and they stay busy 24/7!
2. If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it?
“Invest in my grandchildren’s future. Trust funds, college savings. All I want is a car and a house. I already have everything else in life.”
3. If there was a movie made about your life, who would you like to see cast as your character?
“JaRule. We are kind of the same height. And he has the same attitude I do. Even though he’s rapper, I overlook that.”
4. What are you passionate about/hobbies?
“Carpentry, building things. The last thing I built was a rocking chair. I’m a fan of Norm Abram’s The New Yankee Workshop, where they share blueprints. I wanted to build the chair just to see that I could do it.”
5. What is the first concert you ever attended?
“The Motown Review at the Regal Theater. My cousin Nita took me. There were 12 acts including Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Little Stevie Wonder, and Martha Reid and the Vandellas. I might be the only person in the building that’s seen the Rolling Stones twice!”
6. Special Question! February is Black History Month. On this occasion, is there a message you’d like to share with the Divvy team?
“My father always said, don’t fight racism with your fists, fight it with your mind.”
This is a crucial message that Moe would like to pass on to the young people here at Divvy. And one that his father passed down to him.
Born in 1956 on the southside of Chicago and having spent years of his youth in Georgia and Louisiana, where his parents are from, Moe has seen the impact of prejudice in different ways. He experienced that racism in the south is much different than racism in the north. He experienced it to be just as significant in the north, it’s just more hidden.
Growing up, his parents gave him and his five siblings the world. His mother was the first black Registered Charge Nurse in the ER of Michael Reese Hospital. His father was an Over-the-Road truck driver for United Van Lines.
Maurice went to Holy Angels Catholic School then Chicago Vocational Career Academy for high school. Then joined the Army in the late 70s. He served on the 82nd Airborne Infantry Division. This division is the primary fighting arm of the XVIII Airborne Corps and specializes in parachute landing operations. Through his 10 years in the military, he traveled the world and spent time fighting in Beirut, Afghanistan, and Panama.
“You always saw racism off the base. Back then, people would tell you what they thought of you. But in the military, when talking about the guys you are fighting with, they knew I had their backs and they had mine. It didn’t matter what color you were. It was a matter of life or death,” he explained.
Fast forward to today and the highest priority in Moe’s life is the next generation: his five grandchildren. In 2009, his son passed away in a tragic auto accident while on his way home for Thanksgiving. The way he has dealt with this loss is to understand that while his son was prematurely taken from him, he’s been blessed with grandchildren.
Similarly, he feels his most important role at Divvy has been mentoring young people in the next generation.
“I would just like to teach and lead. When I leave here, I want there to be people left that know how to do all the things I know how to do. I see these young people coming here to work everyday. And they stick with it. I know when they go outside these gates, they are dealing with all kinds of things, but once they come inside this gate, they are business and they get the job done.”