In early June, protests in response to police brutality swept the nation. These protests caught the attention of the media, putting in injustices black Americans face in the forefront of the country’s attention. It has been a slow ball to get rolling, but the work of brave men and women across the nation have put into advocating for black lives is beginning to bring cases of brutality back to light, as well as new laws to protect them.
While these situations can bring out the worst in people, they can also bring out the best. People across the country have stepped up not only to help protesters, but their communities. In Buffalo, New York, one teenager took it upon himself to clean up his hometown following a protest.
Antonio Gwynn Jr. was watching a Facebook Live stream of the protests when he was struck by the desire to take action. He started cleaning trash left behind on Bailey Avenue at two in the morning and continued on for 10 straight hours. By the time an organized cleanup crew arrived, Gwynn had already done most of the work himself.
“I went bought some trash bags grabbed my broom and my dustpan and I just started here,” Gwynn says, “It was just me by myself. I just started riding up and down Bailey to see where stuff was destroyed so I can clean it up.”
The teen’s hard work caught the attention of people across the community. When news of Gwynn’s good deeds hit the local news, fellow good-samaritans stood up to give back to the boy who gave to his community. One local, Matt Block, had been meaning to sell his 2004 Mustang convertible for quite some time. He decided to gift the car to Gwynn, and the gesture meant more than he realized.
In 2018, Antonio Gwynn’s mother passed away. She also drove a red mustang. Upon realizing the coincidence, Gwynn said he “didn’t have any words,” and Block said it gave him “goosebumps.” To help offset the cost of the car, one local insurance agent Bob Briceland promised to cover the cost of Gwynn’s car for a year.
After high school, Gwynn planned to attend trade school while saving for college. Moved by Gwynn’s story, Medaille College in Buffalo offered him a full scholarship. Gwynn now plans to attend the College in the fall to study business.
Antonio Gwynn never thought a simple good deed would grant him so much, but they weren’t the driving force behind his work. More than anything, Gwynn hopes that his actions made his late mother proud.