Changing Lenses is the product of an ongoing conversation between eminent sociologist Doug Hartmann, Ph.D. and myself. In each post, we exchange what’s seen behind a camera lens and what’s seen through a sociological lens to get at the diversity of perspectives and cultivate a unique look at the human experience. Below is my perspective. Read Doug’s reaction here.
Last November Bobby Hull opened the door of his modest home to a young Occupy Wall Street activist who was canvassing the neighborhood. She asked him if he knew anyone with foreclosure problems. Bobby, a 57-year-old plasterer and former Marine who had fallen behind on his mortgage after a series of health problems, said, “You’re looking at one.”
Three months later Bobby’s plight has gone national, becoming the forefront of the Occupy Homes movement with coverage from ABC News and the Huffington Post. Foreclosure Free Fest” that drew 300 supporters throughout the night, with a line-up of well-known local musicians who performed in his small living room and on a stage in his front lawn.
There were many that night that he didn’t know, but in this photo he’s sitting (on the right) talking to Reggie, who he met in the 7th grade. They both grew up in South Minneapolis. “We ran the neighborhood,” says Bobby. “We fought each other and fought everyone else. But that’s the way it was, you beat someone up and they end up your best friend.”
Bobby, one of nine children, has been in this house since his mother bought it in 1968. She ended up adopting five more before she passed away New Years Day in 1999. Bobby helped raise 47 nephews and nieces. “They all call me mean uncle Bob,” he says. “Children like discipline. It’s a sign of love.”
Having this kind of support seems miraculous to Bobby. “It’s like I fell in the mud and can now come up for clean air all the time.” According to a post six days go in the Huffington Post, Bank of America has offered him a mortgage modification that will allow him to keep his home, thanks partly to the Occupy movement.