*Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, has announced plans to convert an empty two-story brick building in her Cleveland neighborhood to a new youth center in honor of her son.
The Tamir Rice Afrocentric Cultural Center, to be built at 6117 St. Clair Ave., will serve as a gathering place where children can be mentored and nurtured and taught how to dissect and participate in political systems, something Rice said she never learned in school but was forced to learn 3 1/2 years ago to speak up for 12-year-old Tamir after he was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer in the recreation center park where he played daily.
Rice is launching the center as a gift to Tamir, and an assurance that his death would not be in vain.
Rice said some people have discouraged her from opening the center, or questioned her ability to pull it off.
The 41-year-old mother may have only an 8th grade education, but she brushes off those naysayers just like she did the annoyance last week of someone putting superglue in every one of the locks on the center’s newly purchased building.
“I don’t pay no attention to them,” Rice said bluntly. “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’m going to do it 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.”
The mother of Tamir Rice envisions a warm and energetic space filled with children. They are painting and drawing with pastels. They are beating on African drums and bowing violins. They are performing plays they created in an intimate theater.
Next month, Rice is throwing a “Sweet Sixteen” party for the milestone her son can’t celebrate. She’s invited the public to help her honor Tamir with musical and spoken word performances, and to help raise $21,000 to renovate the more than 3,500-square-foot building purchased in March by the Tamir Rice Foundation.
Built in 1920, the building has good bones but needs some new windows, drywall and a stage for performances. She hopes to complete work and open the center in 2019.