Second Chances: From Southeast DC to Morehouse College

By Matthew Cooper

Photo captured by @ElmerEllisMedia

Deontay Batts, or Tay as referred to by his friends and family, is a native Washingtonian from Southeast DC who is a current survivor of gun violence and a senior at the prestigious Morehouse College. Ward 7, which is the heart of the southeast, is home to many historical landmarks such as the Big Chair and Frederick Douglass’s house in the Anacostia region of southeast, home to views that would have land developers salivating at the mouth. Yet, despite that, southeast is known as the roughest part of the four quadrants of Washington D.C., including Southwest, Northwest, and Northeast.

With Tay growing up in the Benning Park area of southeast, you can say that he’s seen it all. When asked about having PTSD from being shot, he had this to say.

“I know I got PTSD. I believe I had PTSD beforehand, but I wasn’t very aware of the, um, the disorder prior to, you know, having to know about it, you know?”

“And I think that a lot of that suffering could suffer from it coming from environments, like the one I come from and we come from, you know, because we’ve been losing friends and hearing gunshots and having to duck and dodge that balance for years coming up in the day to day life.”

At the age of fifteen, he was shot and hospitalized, where he was attended to and cared for by doctors and loved ones. However, after his rehabilitation, Tay still had to conquer some trials in adapting to the injuries and getting back to everyday life.

“Some people used to crack little jokes I had like my hand messed up and stuff, so they used to say little jokes about that, but that was only very few people, Batts said. “Prior to that ain’t nobody joan on me, we ain’t really get down like that ain’t nobody joan on me, but I started to get joaned on a little bit more after my incident, but you know I bid back, so I be good.”

A testament to his will by the time he graduated, he still managed to be one of the top one percent of his class when it was time to graduate in 2018. About Morehouse being his next stop for higher education, he had this to say.

“I just wanted to break out the ways I was used to from my environment and growing up and get some of that black excellence that I saw at Morehouse, um, promoted, Batts said.”

With any traumatic event, those things don’t just come and go, and they tend to have a lasting effect on those that experience it.

“It’s like after that shot; I did used to feel different ways. And now, even today, I moved a certain way in life, just due to the events that occurred on that night, you know? So, I can say I got PTSD. I think about life a lot differently. I’m a hesitant to do a lot of things. I no longer had a desire to do a lot of things for a long time.”

Tay manages to cope with PTSD by listening to music and has a keen interest in pursuing the music industry as well, with the likes of Master P as his aspiration.

“I like um people like Master P, everything that he did being as though he came from the rags you know what I’m saying we all know he got the riches now and he came he did it all by just having that vision and it was more set in life for him And it’s like, he didn’t do one thing, Batts said.”

“He went to school, and he played sports. I ain’t really into no sports but man, he did the music thing, and he managed to have his own label; he also rapped too, you know what I’m saying so just to see how his versatile career you know, unravel with the success that he had claimed, that’s somebody that I can say that I aspire.”

Being a current senior at the college, he continues to look ahead and plans to achieve more.

“So, this year, we want to leave a mark, and when I say we, I’m speaking as like the entire Dc family, and we just want to you know more so on the culture of Morehouse boom, cus it just like the DMV is heavily represented in the AUC period, Batts said.”

“And we just wanna share well I want to be one to share like on my hometown anyway it’s a lot of talent and things that I want to spread and share with Morehouse and the whole community down here in Atlanta.”

Post-college, Batts plans to find a job that he enjoys within his business degree while falling back on a Marketing label that he’s familiar with back in D.C. With Tay being from southeast dc and all that he has endured and accomplished, it’s nothing short of a blessing to see him come this far and hear his story.

Matthew Cooper is a student at Morehouse College.

Morehouse student