Bruce Franks Speak Politics + Life + What’s Next
Growing up in some of the toughest neighborhoods in South St. Louis City, Bruce Franks is no stranger to intimidating situations or finding solutions to some of the most unyielding problems. One would even argue, because of his tenacious attitude and fighter spirit, being in the position of Missouri State Representative was made for him.
A graduate of Lindbergh School District, Bruce was already in tuned with diversity and the importance of combined action with a specific goal. It’s safe to say Bruce’s political path was divinely paved for him.
Bruce Franks or to some who know him by his rap name “Oops”, made a name for himself years prior through St. Louis’ rap scene. Battling near and far to be the greatest, spitting hot like fire lyrics, Oops was becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Hmmm, how does a local rapper become a foot soldier during the Mike Brown/Ferguson unrest, to a public servant, to one of the leading political front runners in our area?
Due to the events in Ferguson, we made national and international news, many of the St. Louis residents by force had to face the unpleasant stain of our repeated history of the racial and economic divide in our region. The murder of Mike Brown sparked an outrage in our new young activist of today, because of this incident Bruce’s doubts in law enforcement enhanced. Oops went from battling for the mic to Bruce Franks battling for the community.
He can remember as a youth hanging out with his friends playing basketball and being stopped by the police, he never questioned it, because he was used to it.
“We just took it, kept going, and didn’t say anything”, said Bruce.
Now more aware Bruce started to think back to all his encounters with law enforcement, he wondered if he was ever being racial profiled. Something inside of Bruce wanted to change things.
He started a community organization called 28 to Life serving the people of in St. Louis through youth empowerment, economic growth, and building police/community relationships. Bruce believes if a community concentrated on these three priorities, it can directly change the outcomes of the neighborhoods. 28 to Life represents the astounding statistics of killings by law enforcement towards people of color. Studies have shown every 28 hours a person of color is killed by a police officer. His organization focuses on those three pillars hoping to decrease that number on a broader scale. Through his public service outlet, Bruce has helped improved the relationship between police and community, he has provided a space where the youth can have a voice, and develop a sense of civic duty. 28 to Life has become a vital resource in St. Louis.
” It helped the youth realize and recognize they’re super heros….now they want to save the world, and now they know how to. It doesn’t look like someone jumping in front of a car or saving someone from a building, but simply helping someone out. That’s what it’s all about, we’ve been able to really reach young people in that manner”,said Bruce.
Due to the hostility towards law enforcement, Bruce was called all sorts of names, everything from the traitor to a snitch, however, Bruce never lets that distract him from the bigger picture. He knew the small portion of individuals with that opinion didn’t outweigh the number of supporters backing his decision to help bridge the gap.
“The people love what I do, the same guys I grew up with from the hood, respect what I do”, said Bruce. He adds he knows for a fact what he is doing is for the right cause and for the people, and that’s all that matters. He fully understands there is a lot of work ahead, but he also recognizes the milestones that have been met. His message is simple, for both the community and police officers, in the end, we are all people with a family that we all deserve to go home to.
Volunteering with the Peace Keepers organization this continued his civic/political journey, his voice was becoming well known, and various outlets were now seeking him out. He was becoming known as the guy who stands with the people and helps protect his people. Peace Keepers taught him how to take his anger and transform it into a positive reinforcement.
“We have to push like we’ve been doing for the past couple of years”, said Bruce.
Yet and still Bruce’s work in the St. Louis community is still not enough to convince some he is suitable to hold a seat as our Missouri State Representative. However Bruce has a different opinion, he believes his lived experiences qualifies him for the position. The very challenges our state faces when creating bills and passing laws, Bruce has lived and faced every day, he is confident he can produce solutions.
“You don’t know how to fix it unless you lived through it”, said Bruce.
A rapper as our state representative….it’s possible. How will he separate the two, will he separate Oops from Bruce Franks?
“I don’t think I could do that, that’s the thing that bridges the gap between a disenfranchised community and politics”, said Bruce. Continuing to ramp will reach those who possibly never believed in politics, now they have a candidate they can relate too. Bruce will continue to join in the rap battles, expressing himself artistically.
“If I abandon the artist side of me, I’m only giving 50% in any direction”, said Bruce.
He gives credit to being a rap artist helped shaped the man he is today. He can’t turn his back on the rap community, the two different worlds of rap and politics are combined now. His lyrics have a message, Bruce feels if he is going to say something to the world he needs to make sure the last thing people hear is a message. Whether it be about education or other serious topics, he wants to say something that is powerful, that sill sticks with you.
Running against such a strong force like Penny Hubbard, many didn’t understand why he would purposely set himself up for failure. Yet Bruce has accomplished so much during his campaign, now the state of Missouri has a candidate who is just as tired of the depleted infrastructure, crime, and variety of other things that affect poor neighborhoods. Bruce goal is to remain transparent to make sure the community know he can’t be bought or persuaded.
“Things that I’ve been through has taught me, the only way to be successful is to be yourself”, said Bruce.
Having the support of the community behind him during the controversial litigation against Hubbard’s campaign was a true testament to the change people are ready for. To say it was a great feeling would be an understatement.
Since the court ruling in re-voting, Bruces’s campaign will hit the ground running, going back out and making sure folks are aware of the new election. Explain to those who aren’t completely aware of what happened. His goal is to always remain transparent. It’s a reason to move forward, “We fought and won, all too often in our fight for justice we don’t win”, said Bruce. Changing the outcome and being a part of the outcome shows how when we gather together nothing can stop us.
If elected Bruce plans to do the complete opposite of his opponent Penny Hubbard. His plans include voting in the interest of the people of Missouri, and not what’s best for politicians, not letting the votes be swayed by money or lobbying gifts. He’ll go I fighting for what’s best for all, and coming back to St. Louis and continuing to be engaged in our city.
Bruce broke down the responsibilities of a state representative, if he wins the election he will be proposing certain bills to congress, proposing funding for infrastructure and education, and law making that affect us on a state level. It’s such a huge position to fill it is imperative we choose the right candidate that will keep our best interest in the forefront.
“We are outnumbered in Jefferson City by the Republicans by a whole lot, I understand it can be difficult to get Democratic bills passed, but there has to be someone in office who is willing to do the world”, said Bruce.
Cover Photo: McArthur25
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