You cant blame the seed for what the forest taught em. R.I.P. my friend.

Last night, I found out that an old friend has passed away. Shortly thereafter I found out it was suicide. My heart pounded and I couldn’t fathom this news. I didn’t sleep much, instead I went through my whole photo archive to pull any picture I had of him. As a photographer, through the viewfinder I learned how-and-what to remember. He was someone I wanted and others to remember.

In 2008, when I first met Andrew at UW-Madison, I immediately liked him. I think many people do, especially with that infectious smile and laughter he has. Quickly, I developed a crush on him. I’m sure many people had that too.

My one and only date with him–we went to see a concert that was happening on campus. The musical group was Doomtree. He loved Doomtree, especially Dessa. Andrew loved music, he was a writer and a rapper. Andrew and I both learned after that date that we were more awesome being friends, and friends we stayed.

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Andrew did not discriminate, he was friendly with everyone. Everyone who knew Andrew, knew he was destined for greatness. No Doubt. Now you can see his Facebook blowing up with love. I think many of us are confused.

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Andrew was part of the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Art Learning Community at Uw-Madison. First Wave is a cutting-edge multicultural artistic program that offers competitive undergraduate scholarship recipients the opportunity to live, study and create together in a close-knit, dynamic campus community. Administered by the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI), the First Wave Learning Community is the first university program in the country centered on urban arts, spoken word and hip-hop culture.

I thought First Wave was so cool. Correction “is” cool. Many Posse scholars befriended First Wave scholars. Andrew basically became an honorary Posse Plus Retreat member. What is a Posse Plus Retreat? Every year, The Posse Foundation and Posse Scholars facilitate an annual weekend-long Posse Plus Retreat attended by members of the larger student body, faculty and administration, with the goal of discussing an important campus issue identified by Posse Scholars. His presence was needed and appreciated.

Andrew standing on the human barometer at the 2010 Posse Plus Retreat, where the subject was, “Do we still need to talk about Race”.

I saw Andrew become a part of Greek life with the Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity Inc. Here is he posing with his fellow First Wavers on the night of his initiation. And no those aren't gang signs if you must know.

I saw Andrew become a part of Greek life with the Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity Inc. Here, he’s posing with his fellow First Wavers on the night of his initiation. And no those aren’t gang signs if you must know.

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“You cant blame the seed for what the forest taught em.” is a line from the song “Slow Burn” by Doomtree. During the concert, when this song came on, I remember Andrew went wild. He loved that song. Now going over the lyrics, I’m finding so much of him in the song.

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Madison 2012 graduation. This was probably the last time I saw him and the last time I took a photo of him.

Andrew was supportive of my photography and took my advice seriously. I remember when he gave me a his first E.P. I didn’t like the cover photo, it had a bad crop job. I told him it was cutting right across his beautiful smile. He pondered the picture for a second, then looked at me and said, “You’re right!”225162_1029673176125_90_n

I lost touch with Andrew over the last four years. I had no idea what he was doing or how he was feeling. I wish I knew more.

You had a big heart Andrew, the world wasn’t ready for you. R.I.P.

You can hear some of his latest music here.

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3 thoughts on “You cant blame the seed for what the forest taught em. R.I.P. my friend.

  1. Marisa: What a beautiful tribute. Andrew’s death is a shock. I just met him in January. I’m the (new) Secretary of State for Minnesota. I attended an event at which he performed. Impressed by his performance, I invited him to be part of my office’s efforts to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act in August. I then met with him in my office, and was happy that he participated in a number of our coalition meetings to plan the celebration. His involvement was cut short by his acceptance this summer of an internship in Oakland. I wished him well, told him I was sorry to lose his talents for our efforts, told him I hope he would stay involved and engaged in voting rights causes if/when he returned, and invited him to reach out to my office in the future. That was the last I heard from him. He was such a promising young force. His passing is a tragedy. May he rest in peace.

    1. Thank you for sharing that with me. That definitely sounds like him. The sad thing is, we’ll be left wondering what amazing things he could of accomplished. He loved community organizing as well as I. However, it’s not easy. I admire that you invite those that impress you to be involved in your efforts. Keep doing that.

  2. Thank you for writing this. I miss him soooo much. The last time I saw him was graduation day as well. I remembered that picture clearly you took. Thank you for keeping his memory alive. We love and miss you so much Andrew.

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