the wall of truth

THE WALL OF TRUTH is an online community gathering space for sharing stories, images and reflections about overcoming personal obstacles. Conceived and produced by award winning filmmaker, author, educator and disability rights advocate, Crystal R. Emery, The Wall of Truth is a unique digital meeting place where participants post comments, ideas and questions about how to confront life’s most difficult challenges. The goal of the digital wall, plastered with stories of moving past roadblocks, is to illustrate that success doesn’t depend on being born into wealth or privilege — it depends on hard work, merit and belief in the power of positive outcomes. As part of her three decade commitment to creating arts-based programs that promote cross cultural engagement and empathy, Emery has created a distinctive digital experience that gives participants the opportunity to share their stories of how they achieved success despite formidable hardships.

By uploading candid ideas and insights, THE WALL OF TRUTH contributors help to build an online library of the human experience, and offers an elegant and responsive interface where participants’ reflections can have a direct impact on the lives of young people today by serving as a possible road maps (or cautionary tales) for future possibilities.

Tell us your truth

Submit your story of overcoming, persevering, or enduring hardship, and how you came out the other side.Please limit your story to 1000 words, and you must include your full name and a valid email address.If your story is accepted for posting, we will contact you for a picture.

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Submit your story of overcoming, persevering, or enduring hardship, and how you came out the other side.

Please limit your story to 1000 words, and you must include your full name and a valid email address.

If your story is accepted for posting, we will contact you for a picture.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Bethany Hamilton
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I think at first, adjusting to life with one arm was essentially really challenging because I was so used to doing everything with two arms, and all of the sudden, I’m relearning how to put my hair up and relearning how to surf. Sometimes it is desirable to think of life with two arms. Life would be simple, straightforward and easy, but even life with two arms isn’t simple, straightforward and easy. We all have our tough times and struggles. I remember trying to paddle out surfing and there were just waves crashing on me over and over again. Sometimes I would come in crying and frustrated and discouraged. The attack that happened to me was such a rare occurrence, but I still thought about it. So to fight that fear I would just get in the water and focus on catching the waves. I refused to dwell on ‘what-ifs.’

As a Christian I really cling tight to the promises that God has for my life. They remain steady and true, aren’t going to waiver or change and are there for us to rely on. He grows us in our faith as we go through hard times. It’s true overcoming challenges can make us stronger. We can adapt and thrive beyond our imagination in this challenging world; and be a hope to others in their challenges. This may sound cheesy but these actions make me smile. Shine bright. Sparkle, Rock it!

Karletta Chief
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I grew up on the reservation and didn’t have electricity or running water. My community was impacted by mining where they used a lot of water to transport the coal and they use the coal to produce electricity. That really made me think about why my family and my community didn’t have access to running water or electricity. But yet when I would go to school it was common for everybody to have those amenities.

I was always very interested in math and science ever since elementary school. So from there I just focused on doing well in school and thought about college even though I didn’t really know anybody that went to college. I got accepted into Stanford, even though no one in my family had ever gone to college. It was a really huge adjustment both culturally and academically. My parents drove me there and dropped me off, so I was just there and had to adjust from reservation life to the luxury of being at Stanford – basically ivory towers, where people were more than adequately prepared to go to college. This was the first time I had electricity and running water. On top of that I was lost in the sense of being the only person who was just experiencing the priviliges that people take for granted like electricity and running water. Just experiencing for the first time people that don’t know who you are, much less know a lot about being Native American or Navajo.

Academically it was also a huge adjustment as well. I did excellent in high school, but now I was competing against Tiger Woods and Chelsea Clinton and all these young people that had the best education to get to Stanford. And so, the competition was fierce. Even the teaching and learning style was very different from what I was used to. It’s not the traditional way of learning. I also had to develop a different type of communication. Because growing up as a young child on the reservation, you’re expected to listen and learn. I never was asked to actively voice my thought or critique. So all of that was very different for me. It was the programs in the Native American Center at Stanford and the minority engineering programs that really gave me the support I needed to be successful through my undergraduate years.

Maya Angelou
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Throughout our nervous history, we have constructed pyramidic towers of evil, oftentimes in the name of good. Our greed, fear and lasciviousness have enabled us to murder our poets, who are ourselves, to castigate our priests, who are ourselves. The lists of our subversions of the good stretch from before recorded history to this moment. We drop our eyes at the mention of the bloody, torturous Inquisition. Our shoulders sag at the thoughts of African slaves lying spoon-fashion in the filthy hatches of slave-ships, and the subsequent auction blocks upon which were built great fortunes in our country. We turn our heads in bitter shame at the remembrance of Dachau and the other gas ovens, where millions of ourselves were murdered by millions of ourselves. As soon as we are reminded of our actions, more often than not we spend incredible energy trying to forget what we’ve just been reminded of.

To show you … how out of evil there can come good, in those five years I read every book in the black school library. I read all the books I could get from the white school library. I memorized James Weldon Johnson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes. I memorized Shakespeare, whole plays, fifty sonnets. I memorized Edgar Allen Poe, all the poetry — never having heard it, I memorized it. I had Longfellow, I had Guy de Maupassant, I had Balzac, Rudyard Kipling — I mean, it was catholic kind of reading, and catholic kind of storing.

Out of this evil, which was a dire kind of evil, because rape on the body of a young person more often than not introduces cynicism, and there is nothing quite so tragic as a young cynic, because it means the person has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing. In my case I was saved in that muteness… And I was able to draw from human thought, human disappointments and triumphs, enough to triumph myself.

Uriah Monk
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I am Uriah Monk. I am the second oldest of my five siblings. Growing up, I was an energetic, hard headed kid. I was always short and with a big bald head and big ears. I was blessed with a high intellect; reading at the second grade level in kindergarten, and artistic ability. I loved to draw so much that I would sketch everything that I liked. I drew my family, I drew characters from cartoons, and I drew the butterflies we took care of in kindergarten. However, my intelligence and creative personality wasn’t able to truly shine due to my traumatic childhood.

My parents were divorced so long ago, I can’t remember how old I was at the time. Years later, I was separated from both of them at the age of 11. My father abused us so much that all five us of were removed from his home. My mother did not regain custody of us after that, and I did not see her for the next 7 years.

Our aunt took the five us in, providing us with food, shelter and love. But when she became sick, she couldn’t take care of all of us. My three sisters remained with my aunt and my little brother and I stayed with our uncle, who we had just met for the first time…

After going through grade school, I was adopted by my uncle, who I now call dad. And like his sister, he raised us with love and care. He continued us on the path of education. I went to high school at Foran High and then transferred to North Haven High School. There I continued to learn about the elements and principles of art and design. In fact, North Haven was the first time I taken a graphic design class where we used photoshop to create flyers and pictures.

I graduated North Haven High with honors in every semester and went off to study the arts at Central Connecticut State University. This is where I reconnected with my writing teacher from elementary school: Crystal Emery. I became an intern at URU The Right To Be Inc. that summer of 2013.I did well my first semester but my second semester I got lost in intramural basketball and other distractions. Im ebarrased to admit that my GPA had dropped well below 1.9. The hands on support that I received helped me get back on the right track. And after making it through my third semester of college, again I was exposed to concept of graphic arts. Ms. Crystal recommended that I take a course on graphic design, which led to me changing my major from Fine Arts to Graphic/Information Design.

Throughout the rest of my college experience, I continued to absorb the knowledge of graphic design software, fundamentals and principles, typography, color schemes and more. And during that time, I worked with URU The Right To Be as we hosted workshops, shot and edited scenes at Gateway Community College for our film, screened Black Women in Medicine throughout America (which has now been seen worldwide),…launched the Changing the Face of STEM Imitative at the National Academy of Sciences in 2017…

Over the 6 years I worked at URU The Right To Be Inc. and with the CEO Crystal Emery, I’ve seen the kind of power media has on society. I see the importance of kids needing to believe that they can be what they want to be (You cant be what you cant see). And through the path of education, they continue to follow their dreams just like I am. Doors will open for those who work hard for it, not for someone waiting and opportunity to come to them. You have to push potential to the limits and improve your skills in order to the best that you can be. That is what working at URU The Right To Be has taught me. And when you are finished with your hard work, you will get to see how the end result pays off and what kind of doors it will open for you.

Now, I am a graduate of Central Connecticut State University. And two months after leaving Central, I’m now working at Tribune Media in Hartford as a graphic artist; creating on screen graphics that air on the evening news on Fox 61’s networks. I am extremely grateful to be where I am today. Growing up through the turmoil I’ve experienced, I didn’t think it was possible to reach this point in my life now. I know that not many kids who have experienced what I had as a child come back from it, or alive at all. But I see myself as a testament to the fact that it is possible to triumph over it, strive for greatness and chase your dreams. I intend to continue to follow my dreams and become the greatest and most successful graphic artist.