Inteview with Melvin Parson

Ypsi Farmers & Gardeners Oral History Project
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Omer Jean Winborn: Good afternoon. My name is Omer Jean Winborn, and I'm interviewing Mr. Melvin Parson today. Would you mind stating your name for this recording?

Melvin Parson: Good afternoon. My name is Melvin Parson.

Omer Jean Winborn: Would you mind telling us your year and where you were born?

Melvin Parson: I was born April 22nd, 1964 in a small one-horse town called Detroit.

Omer Jean Winborn: Okay. Could you tell us about the people who raised you and how many siblings you have or had?

Melvin Parson: Well, I gotta be honest. So my family dynamics is a little…complex. However, I was raised by my natural, biological grandparents, but they legally adopted me, so they were also like my mom and dad as well. And if I looked at it from a legal aspect, then I had three siblings, two sisters and one brother. But from a biological aspect, I was the only child.

Omer Jean Winborn: Okay. All right. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself in general? Just generally tell us about yourself.

Melvin Parson: Oh, wow. In general, about myself, I had a really good, I guess normal childhood. There was no abuse there. My basic needs were 00:02:00met above and beyond, I think what the average child's basic needs are, requirements are. I went to, my grandparents or my mom and dad sent me to private school from kindergarten through the eighth grade. And even into high school, I went to Catholic high school for the first year, well for the first semester, but then that's when I got into drugs. I started smoking marijuana, and I went from being this really bright kid on paper in terms of grades to, I think that first semester I came home with like three Ds and a F. And that came from smoking marijuana. And also just the transition from middle school to high school, it really threw me off. And I think about that now how important consistency is in my life as an adult and change has a way of throwing me off even today. So yeah. And I grew up in a neighborhood that was relatively safe. There weren’t murders, or I think there could have been a couple of gangs in the neighborhood, but it wasn't pervasive. Yeah. And we played outdoors a lot, and my friends, we played sports a lot and yeah, it was pretty happy childhood.

Omer Jean Winborn: Yeah. So how did your family come to live in Michigan, specifically Detroit?

Melvin Parson: That's a good question. 00:04:00I can kinda fill you in on what I've heard told to me. But I think essentially, like my grandparent's story is no different than a lot of their peers who came from the South to flee terrorism down in the South. And I wouldn't say to get industrialized jobs that were more in the North because my grandfather was a bricklayer and my grandmother was an accountant.

Omer Jean Winborn: Oh, wow.

Melvin Parson: But yeah, I think they just migrated up here, settled in.

Omer Jean Winborn: Do you know what town or state they migrated from?

Melvin Parson: So, they were born in different locations in the South. I'm not sure where they were settled in prior to... That's a great question. I've gotta find that out too. I'm not sure where they were settled in at when they moved as a family unit up here to Detroit, Michigan.

Omer Jean Winborn: Do you have any other relatives in the Detroit area?

Melvin Parson: Not really. I think I've got one cousin in the Detroit area. Of course, my son's here, but any ancillary or descendants, close descendants to like my grandparents or my siblings outside of them, no.

Omer Jean Winborn: Oh, so they just really came up just to live in a new place. Wow. That's very interesting. So they really weren't. 00:06:00Well, they were part of the migration, but, not, most African Americans came to the automobile industry. You have a unique story.

Melvin Parson: Yeah. And now that you've asked that question, Jean, I was thinking about, I remember my grandfather's mother being here and some of my grandfather's siblings being here, but I was just too young to really connect to them in that way. I think my grandfather's mother, she lived to be about 104, 105 or something like that.

Omer Jean Winborn: Oh my goodness.

Melvin Parson: There was a period of time where my mother's dad came to live with us. His nickname was Pip, P-I-P. And I really liked Pip as a child 'cause Pip could make his ears wiggle and that just tickled me to death. [laughter] I found that fascinating. And then whenever I would get in trouble, I would go to Pip and I would say, "Pip, save me from my sins." Or something I would say like, "Pip, protect me." [laughter] And so if I got into trouble or did something I wasn't supposed to as a child, I would just hang around Pip all day long as if he would be my savior.

Omer Jean Winborn: Oh, that's a wonderful memory. Where have you lived most of your life? Did you live mostly in Detroit? Yeah.

Melvin Parson: Yeah, mostly in Detroit.

Omer Jean Winborn: Okay.

Melvin Parson: I haven't done a lot of traveling in terms of where I live. Yeah, it's been Detroit. I've been incarcerated several times, so 00:08:00I've been in prisons across the State of Michigan, but I really wouldn't call that living. And I moved here in Washtenaw County on May the 8th of 2004. So those have been the only places.

Omer Jean Winborn: Yeah, that was my next question. Specifically, when did you come to live in Ypsilanti? Is that...

Melvin Parson: Yeah. May the 8th of 2004. For some reason, I'll never forget that date. And it wasn't in Ypsilanti, I ended up actually getting dropped off. A bus dropped me off at the Robert Delonis Center, which is a shelter in Ann Arbor, and it was on that day, May 8, 2004.

Omer Jean Winborn: Okay. So in the history of growing food, what's your earliest memory of growing food?

Melvin Parson: What's my earliest memory of growing food? I would have to say it was... It had to be the spring of 2015. And it happened without any... There was no design or thought about it on my part. Where I was living, there was a program there for residents who live there, if they wanted to grow some food that the folks that ran the program would provide them with some seedlings. And there was raised vegetable beds. And so if you wanted to grow some food, they would give you the seedlings and they would give you a vegetable bed to put the food in and to grow some food. And so my earliest memory of doing that was, I believe, 00:10:002015. And prior to that, I lived in that location, which was owned and operated and ran by Avalon Housing. As a result of me being homeless, I was able to get in their housing program in 2010.

Melvin Parson: And those years, I was there four years and had never thought about being in that program, the food program. And then a wonderful lady named Verna passed away who was a prolific gardener. In 2015, I somehow inherited her raised vegetable bed that I didn't ask for and I was given some seedlings. And I didn't resist the idea, I just kinda thought to myself, "Well, let's see where this takes me." And so I cleaned out the raised vegetable bed, pulled some weeds out of it and looked up to the sky and said, "Hey Verna, you know I don't know what I'm doing, but I'm gonna do the best I can in your honor." And planted some veggies in there. I remember it was a couple of pepper plants, a couple of herbs. I think there was a cucumber plant and onions or something like that. And yeah, I remember that being a really impactful moment 00:12:00for me.

Omer Jean Winborn: Wow, that sounds amazing. Wow. Tell us about the farm that you have now, or...

Melvin Parson: Yeah, the farm that my organization currently... Well, I'm the founder and director of a non-profit organization, which is called We the People Opportunity Farm. And we currently lease some land from a church, over there on the eastern part of Ypsilanti in a neighborhood affectionately known as the Sugarbrook neighborhood.

Omer Jean Winborn: Yeah.

Melvin Parson: And we've been leasing that land since... We've been leasing land from them since 2017. So, if you look at it, I went from 2015 having this three by nine-foot vegetable bed that I somehow inherited, quote unquote, to two years later having an opportunity to grow food on, I think at the time the land we had we were renting from the church was about a quarter of an acre of land. So, in two years time, I go from a three by nine-foot vegetable bed to a quarter acre of land to grow some food. And mind you, I didn't know what I was doing in 2015, I was given some seedlings and here it is two years later and I still don't know what I'm doing really, but I've got this opportunity to, to try to figure that out, and I guess I was just naive enough to forge ahead.


Omer Jean Winborn: I think that's wonderful. I know you do a lot of work around people coming home after incarceration. Can you tell us more about that work and why you think growing is so important for people coming home from being incarcerated.

Melvin Parson: Yeah, that's a good question. I think I'll start by saying that I don't... I know what having my hands in the soil does for me, from the word go, from that three by nine-foot vegetable bed. It helped ground me, it gave me an opportunity to look beyond today, which is good. And so I felt like that might be beneficial to other people besides myself, right?

Omer Jean Winborn: Wonderful.

Melvin Parson: Not just people formerly incarcerated, but just people. It just... And because of my lived experience with having been incarcerated and knowing the challenges that I have come up against or faced when returning home, I felt like growing food or farming might be a good opportunity for folks coming home from incarceration. Yeah. 00:16:00And so yeah, that's what kinda drove me to take that approach, but that wasn't my original approach with farming, my original thought with farming was that I just wanted to have a farm, a booth at the farmers market in a place called Kerrytown in Ann Arbor.

Omer Jean Winborn: That brings back wonderful memories for me. I'll share them with you.

Melvin Parson: Oh yeah. I've heard some wonderful stories about Kerrytown before it became gentrified.

Omer Jean Winborn: Yes. I lived there. I lived on 4th Ave.

Melvin Parson: Okay. Yeah. I've heard some wonderful stories.

Omer Jean Winborn: So that was the farmers market.

Melvin Parson: Right. And so as a result, going down there several trips early on like in 2015 and 16, trying to figure out what kale was or radish 'cause I was really, again, I was really disconnected from food and all of that when I started. And I would see no one that looked like me down there and none of the farmers selling me my food looked like me either. And again, I'm a firm believer that either you got a seat at the table or it's your ass that's on the menu. And it felt like I was being driven to have a seat at that table in some way. So that was... Originally, that was my drive to just one day have a booth at that farmers market, that's all I really wanted to do. And the whole thing... Fast forward to 2019, so now I'm at the farm, the land that we rent from the church for two years and we're still there. And I began... And then I started thinking about like how can I incorporate 00:18:00folks who are formerly incarcerated into this process.

Melvin Parson: And that year I began a, what's now known as a paid internship program for formerly incarcerated men and women out at the farm, now, which is double in size. It's only a half an acre now. Yeah, and so now there's a formerly incarcerated paid internship program and into that. And that's been going since 2019. And the first year, it was just me scrambling around trying to find somebody that used to be locked up. But “man, have you been locked up before?” And it's like, “yeah.” I say, "Man, you wanna come? Man, I'll pay you $12 an hour if you... " Scrambling around trying to put together something like that. Had a couple people that were locked up or had been... It didn't even matter how long they had been home or how long they had been out, nothing. And so they would come out there and one of them was like, "Man, I can't be doing all of this. [chuckle] This is too much." It is only $12 an hour and I was probably... At the time, I didn't know how to... Like there's a lot I didn't know how to do, like in terms of managing people or even the farm itself, 'cause I was still trying to figure that out. 00:20:00And it was just all grass and not really good soil and had no rhythm to it, and all of these moving parts were taking place.

Omer Jean Winborn: So what impact has you doing this had on the community?

Melvin Parson: So, I would hope that the impact of me and the organization doing this, I hope the impact has been significant. I would like to think that it has. In the five years since we became a nonprofit, which was December 18th of 2018, December 18th of this year will be our five-year anniversary. In the second year of being a nonprofit is when paid internship program started, and since then we've had 18 people come through our program, both men and women.

Omer Jean Winborn: That's wonderful.

Melvin Parson: And this year we paid our interns $21 an hour to be with us out at our farm.

Omer Jean Winborn: Oh, that's quite an improvement.

Melvin Parson: That's quite an improvement, and we've also added other components along the way to the internship, where it's just not about them out there at the farm planting some vegetables or harvesting or pulling weeds and things like that, but they also participate in a financial literacy program. This year, we incorporated a nonviolence communication workshop into 00:22:00the internship. We also incorporated a social emotional learning curriculum that they go through while in their internship, and they also come alongside Habitat for Humanity’s volunteers, when a couple of times during the internship when they rehab a house in the community. They also get connected to Michigan Works for job assessment, some skills building. And so we've been able to bring on different community partners along the way.

Melvin Parson: Last year, a company called Trenton Manufacturing approached us with a really radical idea. And at the end of our interns internship last year, two of them went on to intern at Trenton Manufacturing Company and were paid to do so by Trenton. And this year we've connected with another organization that offer a pre-apprenticeship training, and after the training is over, they offer apprenticeship opportunities at different businesses in the community. And so four out of the six interns that we had this year are now involved with that.

Omer Jean Winborn: Wow, that's wonderful.

Melvin Parson: Yeah, I would also like to say out of the 18 people or so that have come through our program, only one person has had to go back to jail or prison for any considerable period of time. And given that it costs about 00:24:00$160 a day to house someone in jail, we've probably saved taxpayers over a million dollars, maybe a million two, something like that.

Omer Jean Winborn: Wow.

Melvin Parson: We've given away over 15,000 pounds of food back to our community at no cost to them. We've had over... In the five years, we've had over 1200 people come out to our farm to volunteer, whether that ranges from... It ranges from individuals to groups to different student groups. Yeah, and...

Omer Jean Winborn: That's incredible. That is incredible.

Melvin Parson: I guess. Right? [chuckle]

Omer Jean Winborn: Yes, that is incredible. Unbelievable. That is wonderful.

Melvin Parson: Yeah, so you made me think about... So I would like to say we've had some sort of impact on our community.

Omer Jean Winborn: Yes, absolutely you have. How was growing and buying and preparing food different when you were young as compared to it is now? How was it, if you can remember, or comparing to what's going on now in the world and how it was when you were growing up? Do you remember very many people in your neighborhood having gardens or behind their houses or vacant lots?

Melvin Parson: No, I don't remember that, I think... Yeah, there weren't many folks in my neighborhood growing food. I almost wanna think… 00:26:00I almost wanna feel, I want to believe that the reason for that is when folks like my grandparents and everything... In my neighborhood, I don't... Maybe they just kinda got away from that. I've lived in a neighborhood that... I would like to think that because both my grandparents worked and they made a decent income, especially together, that they moved away from growing food 'cause they could afford to buy food. There was only one person in my neighborhood that I knew that was growing food at the time and he lived right next door to us.

Melvin Parson: And fast food, I think when I was like 10, 11, 12 years old, fast food had just started to kinda take off like McDonald's and a Burger King or Jack in the Box or things like that. So when I was able to get like McDonald's or something, that was a real treat. To me that was a real treat 'cause the majority of the meals that I ate were home cooked meals. I remember as a child, and mainly doing part to... I just kinda reaped the benefits of, but I remember my grandmother who worked every day Monday through Friday as an accountant, she would get up early in the morning and she would make my grandfather a hot breakfast. And so I would get a hot breakfast too.

Omer Jean Winborn: Yeah. Yeah.

Melvin Parson: I wasn't grateful or thankful for it 'cause I'm just a kid. I don't really... I can't grasp the impact of that.

Omer Jean Winborn: You can appreciate it now as an adult though.


Melvin Parson: Oh, wholeheartedly.

Omer Jean Winborn: Yes.

Melvin Parson: Yeah, wholeheartedly.

Omer Jean Winborn: Absolutely.

Melvin Parson: Just incredible. And she would come home and make dinner. Sometimes there would be leftovers for dinner, but whatever, she would make dinner as well. One of the things that's different now, I remember Saturday mornings... So they had... My grandparents had really defined roles, but it worked really well for them. It wasn't, like you do all of this, and I'm just gonna do this a little bit. It was really defined and well worked out. And one of the things that my grandfather did was the grocery shop. And my grandmother would make the grocery list and he would go to the grocery store. And she would write out the list on a steno piece of paper in really beautiful handwriting. She had beautiful handwriting. And she would sit the grocery list and I think sometimes it was like 80 bucks, like maybe four $20 bills. He probably, I don't know where, who, whatever. And he would take that and go to the grocery store and he would come back. And he would come back with so many bags of groceries, like a big trunk. Like my grandfather drove LTD. I think that's what he drove. So yeah, a lot of trunk space in the LTD. And I remember all the bags that he would come back with for $80.

Omer Jean Winborn: Yes.

Melvin Parson: You're lucky today to get two bags of groceries for 80 bucks. And it would come and it would be 12 bags, 13 bags, 14 bags full of groceries. So much so that when he came back, 00:30:00I would try to go find something else to do 'cause I didn't want to help him...

Omer Jean Winborn: Put away the groceries. Yeah.

Melvin Parson: Yeah. So that's certainly different. So those are a couple things that stand out to me that I remember.

Omer Jean Winborn: Yeah. I remember too. I'm a little bit older than you, but for a family of eight was $30. That was a lot of groceries. So, state again for the record where you grow food.

Melvin Parson: So, I grow food on the east side of the county in Ypsilanti in a community known as... Affectionately known as Sugarbrook. And we rent some land from a church in that area called Grace Fellowship Church-House of Solutions.

Omer Jean Winborn: Okay. When you're thinking about the history behind land and farming, what comes to mind for you? The history of land and farming, what comes to mind for you?

Melvin Parson: So, I'm not a big historian in that way, but what comes up for me, what has come up for me, just thinking about it in a broader context, is trauma, that comes up for me. When I think about land and my folks and the connection to it, I think about blood, sweat, tears. What comes up for me is...

Omer Jean Winborn: Oh, you said trauma. Tell me what... Give me specific about trauma, what you feel about trauma.

Melvin Parson: Well, I feel like there's a lot of trauma associated to our forced labor 00:32:00in growing the agricultural, agriculture economy, especially in my grandparent's era.

Omer Jean Winborn: Yes.

Melvin Parson: I remember the story. There was a... And I don't know why this happened to me, but I was out at the farm that my organization and I have, and it was a hot summer day, and I think I was just out there by myself tooling around. So this might have been early on, maybe 2018 or something like that. And it was hot. And I just looked out into our farm and all of a sudden I could see in my mind's eye this young, beautiful black woman laying out there in the fields giving birth to this beautiful black baby boy. And one of the elders or someone snatching the baby away from her out of her arms and her being ushered back to work in the cotton fields. We don't have cotton, but to go back to work. And so this was a vision of my ancestors. And so when you asked me that question, that's what I think about trauma. There's...

Omer Jean Winborn: Oh, thank you so much for sharing that story. Oh my goodness. Sends chills for me. Oh my goodness. So that's 00:34:00such an inspiring story, and that's how you feel about history and passing down traditions like gardening. And you just explained it so well with that story. So is there anything else that you'd like to share about the history and passing it down?

Melvin Parson: Yeah.

Omer Jean Winborn: That's wonderful.

Melvin Parson: Thank you. So having saw that in my mind's eye and having read a little bit about our plight when forced to farm the land and our resilience, and our strength and all of these things that, beautiful things that come out of it along with all this trauma and suffering and pain and murder, and death, and there's a lot of life comes out of it too. But it made me kinda reflect a little bit on what's my responsibility in this, right? What's my... 'Cause it dawned on me, my ancestors had to go to work and they didn't have any say so in the matter. When they... What time they started, what time they stopped. And I find myself in a position where I've got an opportunity to say even then early on, what time I start, what time I stop. And so I owe a debt of gratitude, 00:36:00a debt of respect and honor to those who had no say so in the matter, which is one of the reasons why I, in designing our formerly incarcerated paid internship program, it's only four hours a day, five days a week, but the hours are from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

Melvin Parson: And it's 1:00 PM because most of the folks that come through our program, unfortunately, have been impacted by the criminal injustice system. And most of those impacted by that are folks that look like me, black and brown folks. And so, which means most of the population of folks that will enter into our program will also look like me. And so there's this ancestral connection in there that I've gotta honor. And so we go from 9:00 to 1:00 PM 'cause I don't wanna be out there in July and it's 95 degrees and it's 2 o'clock in the afternoon and I can't breathe. It's too much heat. And I don't want them to feel that. And so that's one of the ways I try to honor this incredible gift I've been given to come alongside folks to help them change some soil in their lives.

Omer Jean Winborn: Oh my goodness. That is so moving. Thank you so much for that. Oh, Melvin. Yeah. 00:38:00Are there ways that growing food connects you to your ancestors? You described that so beautifully. Can you share with us how you feel when you're there touching that soil and the connection that you feel with your ancestors?

Melvin Parson: Yeah. Wow. Yeah, again, it just... I've come to find out that I'm a very anxious person. My life is closely connected to yeah, stress and anxiety and hypervigilance for my safety, and that's all lived experience stuff growing up in, being in the streets, being in prison and all of that. And being out there, just having my hands in the soil and being out there at our farm, like again, from the first day I did that, when I had that three by nine-foot vegetable bed, I felt different, I felt grounded. And being out there, fast forward six years, I still feel the same way having my hands in the soil. My grandson who's an adorable five and a half year old now, the first time he visited Poppy's farm, that's what he calls it, Poppy's farm, his dad and his mom brought him out there.


Melvin Parson: And he's walking around in the farm, he's running around, and he's got these brand new gym shoes on, and his mother was like, "Oh, he's gonna get his gym shoes dirty." And my son was intuitive enough to not stop him from running around, but he just simply took my grandson's shoes off, the gym shoes off, and the socks off. And so my grandson is running around out there in those... Some of the vegetable beds didn't have plants in them, some of them did. And the soil is really rich because over the time we've been out there, we've added so much rich soil, paid so much attention to the soil out there. And he's just running around there bare-footed and his feet is running in that good soil, and he's smiling and he's eating his organic apple, like the apple's almost big as he is. And he's running around, and then my son took his shoes off and his socks off, and he's walking around bare-footed in that soil at the farm. And then I was like, "What the heck? I took my shoes and my socks off."

Omer Jean Winborn: Oh, wow.

Melvin Parson: And so there's three generations.

Omer Jean Winborn: Yes. And you're passing that down. Yes.

Melvin Parson: Yeah. And I'm passing that down.

Omer Jean Winborn: Yes.

Melvin Parson: And again, there's this obligation and there's this honor and there's this responsibility to pass down 00:42:00something filled with humanity and love from my ancestors to them.

Omer Jean Winborn: Yes. What do you think are values, traditions or lessons that you've learned from growing food and farming?

Melvin Parson: Some of the values that I've learned, I think about some... One of the biggest things I've learned about farming is that it's all about the soil, it's not really about... It's about the soil. And I learned this after our first year at the farm where we currently are, that very first year out there. And remember, I'm only two years removed from that three by nine-foot raised vegetable bed at that point. And I wound up, again, it's one of those things, I wound up with this three by nine-foot raised vegetable bed. And then two years later, as a result of a couple things that didn't go right between me and another organization, I wound up with this piece of land that we currently are on now and I got started growing some food there. And I wound up that year in 2017 selling some of it to restaurants. And the chefs at the restaurants would say to me, "Man, this food is amazing. This is really... This is so nutritious. It works well with what we're doing. It slices well, it cooks well."


Melvin Parson: And I would say to them, "Man, I'm really glad to hear that. I gotta be honest, it wasn't intentional on my part 'cause I really don't know what I'm doing here, but thanks for the feedback." But what I was intentional about was trying pay close, to be mindful about the soil for some reason, and didn't even know why. Just something said, "Pay attention to the soil." And I did. And as a result of that, I grew some... Humbly, I grew some amazing produce, and we still grow amazing produce at our farm. And in 2016, I got a bachelor's degree in social work from Eastern Michigan. And so those two things combined helped me to come up with the conclusion that it's all about the soil for plants. If you can be someone like me that doesn't know what they're doing, but if your soil's good, chances are your plants will flourish, chances are.

Melvin Parson: And if you can be I don't know, you can be a brilliant farmer who knows exactly what they're doing, has got all the science down to a teeth, but if your soil's not good, chances are your plants aren't gonna do so well either. And then as a result of that degree, I was able to make this human connection and understand that the same thing applies to us, that it's all about our soil. And if we're in good soil, chances are we'll flourish. And if we're not, chances are we won't. And so that's what I've tried to 00:46:00build and create with the nonprofit that I'm blessed to be a leader of and a founder of, is to create good soil for our staff to thrive in.

Omer Jean Winborn: Yes.

Melvin Parson: For our community to thrive in, and for the folks that we serve to thrive in.

Omer Jean Winborn: Wonderful. I have a last question, it's two part. The first part is, what would you like for people listening to this, either in the future or your descendants, to learn from this experience? And the second question is, have I left anything out, anything that you wanted to say? So I'll let you answer the first one first, and then the second one. What would you like to say to anyone listening to this or your descendants in the future?

Melvin Parson: I would like to say to my son, I love you very much. I would like to say to my adorable grandson the same, that I love you very much, and both of you are the driving force behind me doing the best that I can in life to suit up and show up and be a good example to the two of you and to be a positive member to my society as a whole. I would like to say to 00:48:00my grandmother [chuckle] and my grandfather that I am really thankful and fortunate to have been raised by you. And I hope that the work that I'm doing today has the both of you smiling down on me. Yeah, I would like to say that to someone who hears this that's not a descendant of mine, that I am... Yeah, I am just doing the best that I can. And I've got this opportunity to make a difference in that I am an exception and not the general rule to this because, and I'm not...

Melvin Parson: People say to me, "Man, you are doing some amazing stuff and you're great and you're this, and... " And I say to them, "I'm more like Superman than I am Clark Kent." I'm just this one person having this human experience and that I've just... Yeah, somehow or another, I stumbled into growing food and it just continues to morph on me. And I just want to make the best use of it, not only to continue to grow me, but to help others grow. 00:50:00Yeah, and I would say also there's a lot of value in treating people with kindness and dignity. It doesn't solve the world's problems, but it goes a long way. And if you can do that, then I encourage you to do that at every opportunity that's made available for you.

Omer Jean Winborn: Oh my goodness. What a wonderful interview. Thank you so very much. And is there anything that I have not left off that you would like to say?

Melvin Parson: I would like to say that this was a wonderful interview and I would like to thank you for taking the time to interview me. I would like to thank my dear friend, Finn Bell, who has been a role model of mine and a friend of mine for, oh, since we first met. And he's always been an inspiration to me and someone that I look up to. And yeah, I've... And I don't like to interview. Finn knows I don't like to interview and that I'm nervous and socially awkward all the time, but I'll do anything for Finn. And at no point did I feel socially awkward or not too nervous about this interview. And yeah, thank you.

Omer Jean Winborn: Oh, thank you so much.