By Gail H.M. Brown, Ph.D.,
While naysayers were telling him that they do not know why he would want to stay in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago, evacuee Thaddeus Moten, a New Orlean native, saw opportunity.
“They would tell me, there is nothing in Mississippi, and I would tell them that I see opportunity,” said Moten who first fled to Bazelle, La. with his children, their mother, and their mother’s relatives before coming to Jackson, Miss.
Moten’s father and stepmom had evacuated from New Orleans to Jackson but they later returned.
“I stayed in the Jamison Inn for three months,” he said. “It was really nice back then. I went back to see it recently, and was so disappointed at how run down it is now,” he said.
Moten is glad he listened to his heart and not many of the people who criticize him for staying in Mississippi. He also credits some of the ladies who worked at a local Regions bank for always encouraging him, and answering questions for him about different things when he asked.
He said one of the most important reasons that he stayed is because his children came and went to school here.
He admits that he was involved with friends who did not see the same opportunities that he saw. “It held me back for a while until deep down I realized I wanted more in life, so I had to separate from those people,” he said. “It wasn easy because I did not have any friends here.”
“One thing I try to tell these young men is that education is the best thing you can get,” he said. He said he is also a proponent of staying positive. “I try not to be around negative people, and I will tell anyone to do the same,” Moten explained.
He also believes in keeping his body fit and healthy. “I workout daily,” he said.
He was a licensed barber when he lived in New Orleans. Since being in Mississippi, he had been blessed to own his own shop called Teamslim Barbershop for several years on Robinson Road in West Jackson. “I had to shut down because of COVID-19,” Moten said.
He had also worked in a shop at the Metrocenter Mall.
“My grandparents (now deceased) used to walk the mall for exercise,” said Angel Hampton, a friend who was one of his positive encouragers. “My grandmother occasionally stopped there to let him trim her hair until he offered to come to their home to cut their hair,” she said.
Moten’s belief in God and vision of a fresh start in Mississippi not only manifested into a successful business (until COVID), but also a great daytime job now in the Barber Shop at Jackson State Universit where he encourages young men to be positive. He also has had a “fantastic” night job at UPS for the past year in a half where he became a supervisor in about two weeks.
“They told me they had a supervisor position open and it was mine if I wanted it,” Moten said.
He is also blessed to have achieved the American Dream: homeownership. He has a home in Byram, one of Mississippi’s great places to live.