The Real Change Portrait Project


Marques Lewis

"Marques Lewis" Monoprint by Jon Williams
Marques Lewis prides himself on knowing what’s going on. “I self-educate myself. I’m trying not to have any illusions.” As a kid, “I had teachers that were the objective about life; they understood about how your security is attached to everybody around you. It’s not building things around you that make you secure: It’s how you grow others around you.” Still, growing up in inner-city Los Angeles and Denver with 40 kids in his classes, he became disillusioned: “The teachers, I guess they just got overwhelmed; then you got those teachers that didn’t care. When I was going to junior high, nothing seemed right. A lot of the things that help people find life skills, they took away, like ceramics, wood shops. If you got a public school system that you see is deteriorating in front of your eyes, why would you allow that to happen? That’s your main infrastructure to your intellect.” Marques joined the military at age 19. “I was immature. I went in to have a GI bill. It was something that they were advertising. I came out, didn’t have one.” What he didn’t know was “if you got a captain’s mast even once,” referring to a non-judicial punishment from a commanding officer, the military takes away the benefit. So he never did go to college. Marques came to the Northwest to visit Vancouver, BC. On a previous visit, “I had a good time, it was the best, but [this time] I had a misdemeanor [on my record], so when I tried to go into Canada, they saw that in the computer” and wouldn’t let him in. Not getting admitted to Canada was a wake-up call. “I do have a bit of an angry problem. I have to taper down my resentment. I’m just one person. I can’t take on the mighty power.”

Marques found out about Real Change while staying at a local shelter. “This guy came in, and he had a bunch of these [papers], and he was basically showing off. He said, ‘Shoreline. Go out there. Go into Real Change, go to an orientation. If I’m not here, you can do it.’ So I did it while he ended up getting into trouble. I’ve been there since.” The military helped him get into subsidized housing. “Now I’m just trying to figure out some things, wandering through life. “I maybe want to go down a road of opening up a forum to know people’s minds, to get at the root of things, the nooks and crannies of what’s going on. There’s got to be a way to reach people who are just not in tune or don’t understand where they’re at. The power structure in America got everybody so they think that they need security and policing and big military. “They keep them in fear of their neighbors. I just want to help people get over that and get back to human life.”

Artist: Jon Williams
Jon Williams has been an artist, photographer, and editor for many publications including the Sacramento Bee, The Rocky Mountain News, The Los Angeles Daily News, The (Harrisburg, PA) Patriot News, and the Kitsap Sun. He is currently the graphic artist at Real Change in Seattle He lives in Poulsbo.

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