Larry Roberts is a Chicago barber who helps former inmates reclaim their lives and dignity through jobs training. We first spoke to him in 2021. His school ran a barber shop inside the Chatham neighborhood Walmart until this spring, when Walmart abruptly closed that location and three others. Larry is looking for a new location now, and calling on local leaders to prioritize programs that create new jobs.
“I made history by being the first and only barber school to operate in a jail. I’ve been at Cook County Jail for over 13 years. And I’m in the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice locations as well. We’re educating the new generation of barbers to become more than barbers.”
“The barber school is where they’re trained on how to become a licensed professional. Then they can do an internship with me inside of Walmart as well. They can intern like 150 hours.”
“They’re all tax paying citizens. Social security, federal, state. They have 401K capabilities, and I’m working on medical and dental. They will go through their career and be able to retire after implementing an exit plan. My primary goal would be to help cut down on the recidivism in hopes of giving them alternatives to a life of crime and violence.”
“People don’t want to take certain losses needlessly. They’re not going to shut down a store just because they want to. But there are a variety of reasons, especially if it affects their bottom line. Poor sales, theft, and various other reasons contribute to their decision to close any given store. As a business owner, I can understand how it goes.”
“You know, unfortunately, we talk about the things that go on in the community, but sometimes it is us in our own community that cause the backlash, if you will. I think part of what will fill that gap is Walmart doing a lot of the right things and making sure they pour back and invest into the people.”
“Keep making me strong so I will have the capacity to continue doing what I need to do in order to give back to the community and create opportunities for men and women alike. Regardless of color, race, or creed. In a nutshell, it is my desire to provide a vehicle for them to learn, grow, thrive and cultivate their craft in order to become self-sufficient and successful.”
Larry’s Barber College
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