Written by Michelle Gordon, SDCC Alum 1983
I remember standing on the balcony of our third floor apartment on Woodlawn Avenue, watching to see if I could spot Sue’s blue suburban coming down my block. And once the suburban was spotted, I would yell to my brother and friends playing below me, “Rodney, Chucky, Peanut, and Luke!” “Sue’s coming!” Then we would race to see who could run the fastest to Sue’s Center.
- I remember helping to carry bags of apples, boxes of cheese, books and bags of clothes for Sue, while she helped get Arne, Sarah and Owen inside the church.
- I fondly remember Arne anxiously wanting to play basketball in the gym, Sarah sitting on the blue couch reading, and Owen in diapers.
- I remember learning to overcome my math phobia by listening to Kerrie Holley explain algebra and trigonometry to my friend George Adams. I had never heard anyone explain mathematics so poetically. I remember Sue later hiring me to tutor younger children in various subjects.
- I remember a guy from another neighborhood stealing Sue’s car battery, and the 47th Street thugs beating him so badly, that he was actually relieved to see the police, when they came to arrest him.
- I remember reading to the younger children, helping Lucius Kinard with his math and Robert “R” Kelly with his reading.
- I remember teaching Owen some of the new techniques that I learned in Karate class, and him teaching me to play chess.
- I remember Sarah teaching me German. Although, I don’t remember any of it now, it helped me develop an affinity for foreign languages, and I now speak Japanese, Korean, basic Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and can understand Vietnamese, Malayalam, and Tamil. Thank You Sarah.
- I fondly remember sitting in circle with my friends, and talking to Sue about the dangerous environment that we lived in and the latest murder in our neighborhood.
- I remember playing pick-up basketball games in the gym with Rodney, Chucky, Arne, Jo Jo, Hammond, Bernard, Duncan, Luke, Peanut, Tredarryl, Corky, Brick and Anthony. I also fondly remember watching some great basketball games featuring some of the above names against Mark Bonner, Pickles, Lil Danny, Cabbage, and Luvert Handy. Sue’s Center always had some of the best basketball players on the South Side of Chicago. It was always fun being there to watch who would come to play. Sometimes, Arne would invite his Lab School friends, Johnnie Rogers, Kwame Raoul, Sam Cunningham, and Walt Frazier Jr. It didn’t matter what neighborhood you came from; Sue’s Center on 46th and Greenwood was the place to find the best games in the city.
- I remember going to Sarah and Arne’s high school basketball games and cheering for them. I also remember Arne going to play basketball in some of the worst projects in Chicago, and me going to protect him, just in case it wasn’t a peace treaty between the Black Stone Rangers and the Disciples.
- I fondly remember going to Sue’s Center because it was the safest place to be when I wasn’t at home, and thanking God for having a Sue Duncan in my life.
- I remember Sue encouraging me to go to college, to travel and see the world, to always reach out to help others, to write books and my biography.
Since leaving Sue’s Center in 1983, I have tried to do everything that Sue has asked me to do. I have graduated from three colleges, lived, traveled and trained in the Korean art of Tae Kwon Do extensively throughout the United States, South Korea, China and have won national and international awards in Tae Kwon Do and for my work with children. I have also written several books on Tae Kwon Do, and will soon begin writing my autobiography.
Reaching out to others is something that comes naturally for me as a Buddhist, so through my Tae Kwon Do dojang (school) I offer scholarships and tutorial sessions to any student that needs my help. My assistant instructors Caleb Bell, Edmond Bailey, William Adams and I refurbish old computers and give them to families that can not afford them, help with canned food drives for homeless shelters, and help families that need emergency assistance with food or clothing. All of my students help one another by giving their outgrown uniforms to younger students that may need a new uniform, and the parents of my students help me by carpooling children to various tournament or community demonstrations.
I try to run my dojang the Sue Duncan way, by instilling in my students the importance of reaching out to others and helping in their communities. Education and martial arts have so greatly enriched my life, opening many doors for me and putting me in touch with wonderful people. As a result of this, I currently run a successful Tae Kwon Do school in North Carolina. I will forever be grateful to Sue Duncan for encouraging me to see beyond my third floor balcony on 46th Street on Woodlawn Avenue in Chicago.