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Tamir Rice’s Mother to Build Afrocentric Youth Center In Her Son’s Honor

Samaria Rice

Samaria Rice, 41, said she hopes to have the youth center opened by 2019. (Photo by Lisa DeJong)

The mother of slain young Cleveland teen, Tamir Rice, has hopes of turning a vacant two-story building on the city’s west side into a cultural community center meant to nurture the neighborhood’s youth, Cleveland.com reported.

Inside what will soon become the Tamir Rice Afrocentric Cultural Center, Samaria Rice said she envisions children putting on plays for local audiences, drawing with pastels, and even playing traditional African drums. Not only will the center fuel kids’ creativity, but it will also serve as space where they can be mentored and taught to dissect the country’s political systems — something Rice said she was forced to learn after her 12-year-old son was gunned down by police nearly 3 1/2 years ago.

The center is also a gift to Tamir, she said, and her way of ensuring his legacy lives on.

Speaking with Cleveland.com, Rice said some people have doubted her ability to open the center while others discouraged her from it altogether. Just last week, the 41-year-old said the naysayers tried to deter once again by putting super glue in all the locks on the newly- purchased building.

“I don’t pay no attention to them,” Rice said. “They can’t beat me for the simple fact that their child wasn’t killed by the state. I’m going to do it through the grace of God and I am going to do it [not], because the city of Cleveland gave me no choice but to do it as far as building my son’s legacy and keeping his legacy alive.”

Next month, Rice plans to host a “Sweet Sixteen” party to mark the milestone Tamir didn’t get to live to see. She’s inviting the public to join her in honoring her late son with spoken word performances and other entertainment, as well as help her raise the $21,000 needed to renovate the over 3,500-square-foot building, Cleveland.com reported.

The Tamir Rice Foundation, which Rice said has helped her cope with her son’s death, first purchased the vacant building in March for $162,680. Though she still needs new windows and a stage for performances, the mother-turned activist said she hopes to have the center up and running by 2019.

“I’m a nurturer and I still had some nurturing to do for Tamir but I was robbed of that,” she said. “I want to see some positivity. I don’t really see a whole lot of positivity coming out of the inner city when it comes to the youth that is suffering … I want the center to give them a sense of hope.”

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