Lessons from 'Batman,' an ex-Chicago gangster
By Lonza "Batman" C. Harris Jr., Special to CNN
Editor's note: Lonza "Batman" C. Harris Jr. joined the Gangster Disciples at age 17, and later became its legal and political coordinator. Today, Harris is immobilized as a result of ALS. His story is featured in "The Greens," a documentary he co-produced. The following is an edited transcript of Harris' story, as told to CNN over the phone. CNN cannot confirm all of his accounts. For more on Chicago's gang problem, watch "Chicagoland" Thursday nights at 10 ET/9 CT on CNN.
(CNN) -- I think it was the fall, the year my mother told us she'd decided to go to Chicago. We were on the porch back in Arkansas -- me, my nine brothers and sisters -- and she said, "I'll be back to get y'all."
It was the first time that we had ever been separated from each other. I was 6 years old.
When she came back, we all packed up the car and headed to Chicago. I recall the fields disappearing as we drove further north. I stopped seeing a lot of trees, I stopped seeing a lot of open space. The closer we got to Chicago, there were a lot of buildings and I had to adjust because I was from rural Arkansas.
We settled into a four- or five-bedroom house on the West Side of Chicago. When I was 14 years old, our house caught fire. It was the year of the blizzard, 1979.
By the grace of the good lord, we all got out safely.