Marcus McCormick sacrificed his own education for his brothers, sometimes stealing food from grocery stores to feed his hungry family. But after he dropped out of school and left home his brothers stopped going to school.
This is the second in a series of stories WFPL is airing over the next month profiling former public school students that left school before graduating. The series sheds light on the personal narratives behind statistics and data media often report.
McCormick says he grew up in a single parent household—his mother was an alcoholic—and so he assumed a lead role among his family.
“To me, growing up, as long as I had my family I was good.”
It was good, there was love. Although love was never shown from my mama to us—but she was always there…like I could wake up and know she was there—that was love to me. That was good for me. That motivated me….like I’m going to get us out of this struggle one day.
I actually didn’t graduate high school because I started doing illegal things to get money to provide for the household and she was on the verge of kicking me out at 16…..and I ended up dropping out at 16, like right after 9th grade year. It wasn’t due to no JCPS, it was due to supporting my family.
“There would be nights when I would go home and there would be nothing to eat.”
I would have to go steal from the stores just so my brothers could eat. I wasn’t even worried about me. I was more worried about me brothers. During that stretch it was painful to watch my little brothers crying on my shoulders asking when are things going to get better. And me, I’m going to tell them things is already good you’ve just got to look we’re here together.
From 17 to 19 I moved out and I was struggling real bad but I feel like I could do it without my mama’s help. I was living from home to home, from here to here for two years straight. So finally come home and she tells me she don’t drink no more. And I’m thinking everything is good. But what I didn’t know was my little brothers were in school. CPS [child protective services] had came and got them because they were going to school no more. When I left they just stopped doing what they wanted to do.
McCormick says after returning home he became distant from his mother but he says now he never brings it up. He says he doesn’t like living in the past and wants to start a new chapter with her.
“My baby brother is actually in college. He graduated high school when he was in foster care and for two years I didn’t have no contact with him or nothing until I made a Facebook page and he seen my name and:
‘Hey bro I’ve already graduated.’
I’m like whoa, you’ve already graduated? That’s good continue doing that.
‘And I’m going to college.’
So you already have your mind made up for what you wanted to do. I’m proud of you.
‘Man I got it from you bro, you told me stay focused. Whatever I want to do I could do it.’
That made me feel so good by him telling me that. I felt like my brothers really listened to me.