It has been one year since these events. After Lafeyette’s trial, he is given a year of probation and has to perform hours of community service at the Boys Club, where he works with small children, which he enjoys doing. In the meantime, Kotlowitz succeeds in getting both Lafeyette and Pharoah into a private school outside of Horner, which is strict but has no problems of drugs or violence. While Pharoah thrives there, working hard despite being behind on reading and math, Lafeyette has struggled with the workload and returned to public school toward the end of the school year.
Despite being an unfair punishment, Lafeyette’s community service proves potentially productive and highlights the boy’s capacity to commit to a just cause and work hard to care for others. These qualities, however, are insufficient in guaranteeing his academic success or a hopeful future, as part of the problem lies in the disadvantages he has already suffered from and in the need for him to work hard, trust in his future, and believe in himself.
Lafeyette’s experience at a private school has made him enthusiastic about learning, but he is now struggling to stay out of trouble. After being caught smoking marijuana before school, he promises his mother to stay away from drugs, but LaJoe is worried that he might fall prey to Horner’s bad influences. However, Lafeyette successfully graduates from eighth grade, an event that makes him feel proud and happy—one of the few carefree moments in his life. Next year, he hopes to enter a parochial school geared toward children with learning problems.
Despite Lafeyette’s difficulties with school, he has not given up on his future and knows how important academic success is in life. However, his success will ultimately depend both on academic achievement and on his ability to stay out of trouble, maintaining a safe distance from the neighborhood’s pressures. Lafeyette’s success thus depends on himself, his friends, his family, and also—as Craig so poignantly demonstrated—on sheer luck.
One year since Craig Davis was shot, the police still refuses to discuss the case, and Christine, Craig’s mother, plans to file a lawsuit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, responsible for her son’s death. In the meantime, Rickey has since begun selling drugs for a local gang. He has been arrested for breaking into a car and has seen multiple court psychiatrist, who have concluded that he is generally angry at the world and feels personally wronged.
The police’s actions show that they are far from being the just, accountable force that they are supposed to be. Instead of promoting transparency and justice, which would lead to a better relationship with the community, the police generate anger and distrust among neighborhood residents—which only increases the likelihood of police-related violence in the future.
At Horner, the violence has not subsided, even though tragic shootings never seem to make the news. Lafeyette and Pharoah both want to move out of the projects, and Pharoah worries so much about it that it sometimes moves him to tears. Vincent Lane and CHA, though, have improved some of the infrastructure at Horner. In some housing complexes, they have also succeeded in moving gangs’ drug operations elsewhere, and some residents of these neighborhoods now feel safer than they have in years. However, funds to organize similar maintenance and security operations at Horner are often sorely lacking. Other changes, such as the creation of drug- and gang-prevention programs and the creation of a drug rehabilitation center, have improved life at Horner somewhat.
The lack of news coverage of what happens at Horner shows just how undervalued and misunderstood residents’ lives are—not only by the government, but also by the general public. At the same time, this disinterest is neither inevitable nor permanent, as Vincent Lane has proven that some individuals do care and, through forceful action and sustained commitment, are capable of changing a long-standing situation of neglect on their own. This restores trust in individuals’ potential to improve their own lives—and, perhaps, that of entire communities.
Dawn and her boyfriend, Demetrius, have succeeded in receiving an apartment at the ABLA homes, where Craig used to live. The two of them now have five children and, while they still struggle to find a permanent job, they rarely return to Horner. As for Terence, after earning his high school equivalency in prison, he should be released in 1991. Finally, Paul has a new part-time job and has been able to give LaJoe money so she can buy Tammie and Tiffany sandals.
Other hopeful developments have impacted the Rivers family directly. Dawn and Demetrius’ success at moving out of Horner proves that progress is possible through hard work and hope. Similarly, Terence’s diploma and Paul’s new job show that individuals are capable of improving their lives if they are persistent, even in the most harrowing of circumstances, such as incarceration or drug addiction.