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"The Streets Were My Father"

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
June 17, 2024 3:06 am

"The Streets Were My Father"

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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June 17, 2024 3:06 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, meet Carlos Colon, a Chicago man who joined a gang as a teenager, murdered a man, found salvation in prison, and now has a family and a new life.

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Our American Stories
Lee Habeeb

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It seems promising until you start listening. When you hit play on Post Reports, you'll get fascinating conversations and sometimes a little fun too. I'm Martine Powers.

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See Web page for T's and C's. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have supervision, enhanced hearing, extraordinary reflexes to be, dare we say, superhuman? Well, Roku's new Pro Series TV can't do any of that for you, but with a 4K screen, side firing speakers and a blazing fast refresh rate, it'll sure feel like it. Elevate your entertainment using all your favorite apps like iHeart and play all your music, radio and podcasts with the new Roku Pro Series. Your senses aren't better.

Your TV is. This is our American stories, and as you know, some of our favorite stories and some of your favorite stories on this show are redemption stories, come back stories about people who turn their lives around, which brings us to our next story. It comes from the documentary The Father I Never Knew, a movie that tracks the lives of former gang members that were raised without a positive father figure, which you can find on Amazon Prime.

And the director, Don Albert, graciously gave us the interview to tell these stories. And now we bring you the story of Carlos Colón. I was born in Chicago, Illinois, in Humboldt Park. From the 70s on through the 90s, it was pretty drastic. Growing up with a single mom, you know, the gangs was pretty bad in the neighborhood and poverty was at its worst.

I would think about it. Now I think about my upbringing and it was a lot of empty lots, so there wasn't no playgrounds. It was just empty lots, you know, where no buildings were and where they used to be. So a lot of times, you know, we turn to the streets and, you know, you come from a dysfunctional home where you see drug abuse from different men in my mom's lives and domestic abuse. I turned to the streets. I spent most of my life in prison from juvenile on through my adulthood. Single mother, never knew my dad, poor and my mom was in two abusive relationships, so that had its toll. I was missing the father's love, you know, for his son. And not only that, but a complete family, something, you know, a father supposed to be, you know, sense of security.

He's supposed to be the one to provide and we didn't have that in my house. So I never knew what it was like to grow up a man. I pretty much was playing the guessing game and going off of a lot of bad examples in my life ahead of me. And so the streets were my father. In my teen years, I joined a gang, you know, and I clung to that. And what attracted me to the gang was actually just the unity. We all had something in common. A lot of us were miserable.

We had no fathers in our lives. And so it's like a pack of dogs, you know, they we hung together and we clung together and life spiraled real fast. We would steal a car in the city, a beat up car, go to O'Hare Airport and look for a nice car, something with rims and and speakers and sound system.

And we would try to bring it back to Chicago and sell it. So we were doing this for a while now and we got caught. And when they caught us, it seemed like they were investigating.

So there was like six or seven cars that they charged us with, which trust me, we did take. But I ended up going fighting the case out as best I can and I ended up getting probation. The rules were too much for me.

I couldn't handle it. They had house arrest and I had to do all these crazy things just to stay out of jail, which I violated. So I eventually ended up going to juvenile detention center, which is like juvenile prison. And that's where I spent a lot of time in and out of until, you know, I got out at about I think I was 17 when I got out. So from 15 to 17, I spent most of my time in and out of juvenile detention.

And once I went into juvenile, I was being trained for when I got out to be worse. We were a small gang, so by being a small gang, we had more to prove than these big gangs. You know, it's not like, oh, you know, we were well established in Chicago. No, we were a small gang. We had one corner. And in that corner, it was only if there was 50 of us, which some people might think 50 is a lot of people. But there's hundreds and thousands of gangs out here.

There could be no war going on because a lot of times we'll go into war and we'll fight with each other. I remember I would be driving with my buddies and we would see someone's car and we say, hey, that's so-and-so's car from this neighborhood. And it's someone we don't like. And we would already know, OK, his car's parked here tomorrow or tonight in the late night.

We're going to burn his car. And we would burn cars, break windows, even to the point where sometimes we would go to other neighborhoods and jump out on people and jump home and act like we were a different gang. Just because for the thrill of it, because we wanted to instill damage. And I would say even at 20, it got to the point where now if we could catch you, but no one was around and we had a gun on us, we would actually try to kill you.

We would see if we could get away with it or at least shoot you or something without you knowing it was us. That's how bad it was. I got it just escalated from, you know, stealing cars in my life to knives, bats, guns and murder eventually. And I remember getting into a shootout with somebody, getting away, telling a friend of mine about it.

And after I spoke to him about it shortly afterwards, they came back. I got shot. I got shot in the hand and in the leg. And I did about a month or two in the hospital recovering.

And during that time, the war was still going on. Pretty much it started because I got shot. My buddy got killed.

So that took its toll on me, too. You know, he's a friend of mine who he his dad passed away and got killed. So he grew up without a father. And so I was bringing him up into the gangs.

And next thing you know, he's dead. So I thought that was my responsibility. And I wanted to take I wanted revenge, you know, for so much.

It was like just a pot of so much boiling and brewing. And I wanted to get revenge. So I got out of the hospital and you know, when I got shot, I got shot because I ran out of bullets. So I didn't want that to happen no more. And I remember saying, well, I'm going to buy two guns and keep one on me.

And when I'm walking with somebody, I let them hold the other one just to be safe. And as I was healing and recuperating and I couldn't run, I was still walking with a cane. I ran into one of the guys who was involved in my shooting. I shot him five times. And shortly afterwards, they pronounced him dead at the hospital. And the cops were looking for me.

It's funny because he was his only witness. But what happened was the cops actually grabbed one of the guys from my neighborhood. And instead of being a standup guy, he actually ratted me out. And so once I knew that the cops were looking for me, it was over with for me. I had to leave the neighborhood.

Chicago wasn't an option no more. So I fled and I ended up from Ohio to Florida, Puerto Rico, Ohio, back to Florida for about about 11 months. I was a fugitive. I was working at this furniture warehouse under a different name.

I just made the union and everything. So I was meeting a lot of people, the big wigs from the warehouse corporate. And I remember my supervisor walking up to me with this man and I'm thinking, OK, I'm going to meet another supervisor. And when I shook his hand, he actually was a Orlando police officer that the extradition came over and they actually the warrant came and they arrested me there.

And then the Chicago police came and got me and took me back to Chicago. And it wasn't easy because I had a child on the way myself from a previous relationship. And so this will be my first my first born. It was my son. That was crazy because I grew up without a father. Knowing who my real father was, I found out he grew up without a father. And now I'm going to have a son who's going to grow up without a father. And I wanted I didn't want that to happen. So that's pretty much how I ended up getting caught because I tried to keep a relationship with him. And you're listening to Carlos Colon and my goodness, as he said about life in Humboldt Park in Chicago, from the 70s to the 90s, it was pretty drastic. What a tragic story thus far when we come back.

More Carlos Colon story here on Our American Story. I bet you're smart. Yeah. And you like to hold your own in the group chat. We can help you drop even more knowledge. My name is Martine Powers.

And I'm Elahe Isadi. We host a daily news podcast called Post Reports. Every weekday afternoon, Post Reports takes you inside an important and interesting story with the kind of reporting that you can only get from The Washington Post. You can listen to Post Reports wherever you get your podcasts.

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See Web page for teas and seas. This show is sponsored by Better Help. I don't know about you, but the older I get, the faster each year passes. That's why I love to ask people two simple questions. What have you done this year you're really proud of? And what do you still hope to accomplish this year? The fact is, it's important to take a moment to celebrate your wins and make adjustments for the rest of the year to come. Therapy can help you with both things.

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Take a moment. Visit BetterHelp.com slash OAS today to get 10% off your first month. That's BetterHelpHELP.com slash OAS. And we continue with our American stories and Carlos Colon's story. He had joined a Chicago gang at a young age, killed a man and was on the run from the cops.

Let's get back to Carlos with the rest of his story. They sentenced me to do 20 years in prison. I had to do 20 years straight. You know, during that first 10 years, all I would think about is trying to occupy my time, try to make it up the hill and over the hill to get home.

And, you know, we would make homemade wine and smuggle in drugs and smoke reefer or weed, however you want to call it. And I remember when I was 12, I want to make sure that you guys know this. When I was a kid, I got saved. I found Jesus. The problem was I would go home and Jesus was not preached to me because my home was domestic abuse, drug violence. And so we were poor. It wasn't like God was in the house.

But no seed returns void. So the seeds were in me. I get to prison and, you know, they say blessings and curses come out the mouth. And I would always speak these curses like if I ever see this one person, I'm going to try to kill them.

I'm going to try to do this and that. And one of them was the guy that actually killed a friend of mine, my buddy Fredo. And he ended up in the same prison as me. And like he was in a big gang, but his gang turned on him.

And now the numbers are in my favor. So I wanted this guy. And we got into a big fight, just me and him.

And it got really bad where we ended up going to segregation, which is like a prison in the prison. And he actually witnessed to me, believe it or not, he actually shared the word with me. And, you know, I didn't take him as serious, but no seed returns void. So the seeds were planted again. So that's when I said enough is enough.

You know, I just wanted something different. You know, I talked about the void in my life. Well, you know, I went to prison with a void in my life. I figured it out.

I realized it. It was Jesus. I was missing God in my life, even though he was always there. I never willingly recommitted myself to him. I never willingly said, OK, Lord, I need you to go through this with me. You know, I needed him as my father.

I was looking for a father and he was always the one. So I remember making a prayer in segregation and I started praying and I asked God, listen, Lord, I know I'm in trouble. I know I'm going to go to a worse prison. I'm not trying to give you one of these prayers where if you get me out of this, I'll be good.

Because a lot of times we say that prayer and it's never the case. I just ask God to go with me and to watch over me and to surround me with believers and to make it where I can convince my wife to change her life. And I can have a home at home when I get home ready for me, a church waiting on me. And I wanted to totally change my life. I just wanted to turn away from who I was and become something new.

And so that started the next 10 years, which were the best 10 years of my life in prison. I was able to not only recommit my life to the Lord, but, you know, God was preparing me to come home. I was raised with bitterness and rage and anger, and God was showing me the root of it. And God reminded me that if you want to be truly forgiven. And I've done some things. I was in jail for murder. If you really want to be forgiven, you have to forgive.

And so that's when I was saying, OK, Lord, I release that unto you. Show me how to forgive. And so no longer am I mad at the abusive man in my mother's life or my mom for the way she raised me. Even though times were tough, you know, she probably could have learned how to do things better.

The past is the past. So I got to the point in my life where I said, OK, no more bitterness, no more anger, no more rage. Let's let's fill that with peace and joy and happiness. And I was hoping that he can make a way in my life, you know, to be forgiven by the families that I had took their son away, their brother away, their father away.

You know, that was my prayer for the next 10 years. God was really spiritually getting me ready and motivating me for life outside of prison, a new life. There was this one man. I remember he was bold.

His name was William Flores. And I would see him lead Bible studies. And I knew, OK, God sent me here to meet this man.

And you can always run into two people in your life at certain times in your life that were real influential. And this was a key moment because this was the beginning. And it looked like I was going to become a closet Christian. I seen his boldness. I needed that boldness. And I know what boldness was about, because in my life before Christ, I was always trying to be bold.

So I seen this boldness, true boldness, by the way, no shame in speaking about Jesus. And I started attending his Bible studies whenever we would get recreation time. And I started picking his ear and he would pray with me and teach me things of the Bible. And we would have prison Bible studies where people from outside of the prison would come in and and freely spend time, voluntarily, by the way, fellowship with us, share the word with us. And and we even had a Spanish preacher that would come and be bilingual and speak the word in English and Spanish just so more people could attend his Bible studies. These are people who had different personalities and they fed into my heart, into my life.

Well, now I could pick their brains and figure out how to install these good qualities in my life, in my walk when I come home. Now, I'm back in Chicago and I work for my church. Not only do I work for my church, I'm in the same community that I did damage in. I remember going to Manny Mills in Glen Ellyn, it's called Radical Time Out, and it's a time where everyone gets together and they pray radically. It's a place where they can pray and fellowship together and break bread together and hear the word together, worship together. And I remember going that I had to go there.

It's a must. I went there and I've been going there every chance I get. And I gave my testimony there. And remember, I had spoke about forgiveness and I wanted God to restore what the enemy had broken. And shortly after my testimony, I spoke to Neftali, who is pretty much Manny Mills' right-hand man. And I found out that somebody was there giving their testimony who happened to be Nelson Vargas, the father of the man that I killed. And I spoke to Neftali about that and I let him know, hey, you know, you just had a man here recently and he just gave his testimony. I want you to know that that's the man whose son I killed.

Neftali went and through prayer, he spoke to Nelson and he set up a meeting where we met at Midwest Church with Pastor David. Him and his family met me and my wife and he forgave me, you know, and this is something that was in my heart for the last 10 years in prison. Not only did he forgive me, but we have a relationship and he's wonderful, you know, and he tells me, now I'm your father, you know, now you're my son, he tells me.

And knowing that I killed this man's son, he would say that and I think we both are embracing that, that relationship that's going to grow and mature and nurture between him and I and both our families, actually, you know. And so I thank God because nothing is impossible for the Lord and, you know, if he can restore this between me and Nelson, just imagine what else he's going to do, you know. Since I've been out, I work for my church now and I'm working on trying to visit the prisons as well because I want people to see life beyond the walls, but how it's possible through Christ, you know, to maintain a relationship with him and to have a life after jail, you know, other than prison. I want people to see hope.

I don't deserve nothing, but God is good that he's given me. So I've been involved with my church now working for the church. I do maintenance for my church.

And it's actually me and one more guy. We have all these properties that we have to maintain. And I didn't know nothing about construction and plumbing. And my boss, Joey, he's the best.

He's younger than me and he's a great teacher. That's Jesus, you know, and so I've learned a lot. My life now is just trying to live for the Lord, but be better than who I was. And I'll never make up for all the wrong that I've done, but at least we can make a difference today and every chance that we can get from now on, you know, we can try.

So that's what I'm going for right now in my life. And what a story and special thanks as always to Joey Cortez for getting this story and getting it out to you and a special thanks to Carlos Colon for telling this story. And for Don Albert, graciously sharing these interviews, the name of his movie is The Father I Never Knew and go to Amazon, watch it with your family and friends, whatever your religious beliefs. This is his testimony and it's his story. And it's countless tens, if not hundreds of thousands of inmates.

And that God turned their life around the story of so many young men and women without dads roaming the streets here on Our American Stories. Sound is personal, intimate and emotive, just like this podcast. We are audio stack dot AI. We combine AI writing the best synthetic voices like ours with production like music and mastering and deliver them to be heard. Be it ads, podcasts or VOs for video, just like this ad you're listening to right now. However, we have millions of spots just like this on podcasts.

And rather than hearing from us, we want to hear from you. How would you like to win an AI audio campaign for free? Do you work with businesses, products, events or causes that could benefit from free promotion on podcasts in the coming month? Tell us how you might use synthetic voices or dynamically change ads for a society and culture podcast like this versus science, music or even comedy. Go to audio stack dot AI forward slash contest and your company could be heard by millions.

See Web page for teas and seas from BBC Radio for Britain's biggest paranormal podcast is going on a road trip. I thought in that moment. Oh, my God. We've summoned something from this board. This is uncanny USA. He says somebody's in the house and I. Listen to uncanny USA wherever you get your BBC podcasts.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-17 04:43:55 / 2024-06-17 04:54:04 / 10

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