Damn What A Shame – Jacob Delgado Rest In Peace

Today is the ninth anniversary of the death of a friend and former student.

Jacob Delgado was 19 when he was shot and killed on Broad Street in Providence, RI.  He was an artist and employee at the AS220 Broad Street Studio at the time of his death.  We had met about a year and a half earlier at the Rhode Island Training School (RITS), where he was incarcerated for several of his teenage years.  The first time I ever went to the RITS I met Jacob.  He had amazing energy, a stack of notebooks full of writing, and was one of the best freestyle rappers I have ever heard.

The first classes I taught at the RITS were poetry classes in the maximum security unit and every class would end in a freestyle cipher at the back of the room.  We would all rhyme, but Jacob and Matthew (who was killed two months after Jacob) were the leaders and they would often battle each other for long stretches of time to see who could come up with the most creative ways of insulting each other.

But while his rhyme style was aggressive, not everything Jacob wrote was…  While he was incarcerated he drafted a 13 page “proposal for change” which prioritized education as the most important thing for his peers and outlined plans for peer mediation, a teen summit, support groups, mentoring, voter registration, a tribal council, and a gang peace unit.  When he was released from the training school, he pursued these plans, going back to meet with administrators and joining the staff of the Broad Street Studio.  On staff at the Studio, Jacob participated in many things including writing and interviewing politicians for the Muzine, a bi-monthly publication of the Studio.  He also went to area high schools and helped recruit young writers to get involved.  The energy he brought on those school visits was contagious and engaged students like nothing else I’ve ever seen.

Maybe because he was on such a positive path from anger and destruction to creativity and peace, he didn’t think the situation would lead to violence…  Or maybe because he was incarcerated in an environment without guns for so many of his teenage years, when he got into an argument with some dude at the chimi truck late on a Friday night, Jacob expected it to be resolved with words and fists.  But even though they were both on Broad Street, the other guy was on a different path.

This is the prescient poem Jacob wrote the day before he was murdered.  I found it on the floor of the Studio the following Monday:

My Life

my life what it izz, lost full of emotions

that’s ready to flip.

Holly spirits – trying to capture my live

do i lose it? na I’ll manetane still not

undersanden how theas streets captured my vaines

scary sight on every corner lay’s a stane

memorys of splader brianes, young souls

curpted by fame killing another nigga fa a

name dam what a shame

- Jacob Delgado  RIP

10 Responses to Damn What A Shame – Jacob Delgado Rest In Peace

  1. a. herring December 15, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink |

    A lot of people couldn’t believe they lived to see a black president be elected. Will I ever get to not see another story like this? I don’t have the words for this reoccurring story told in so many fashions. And I surely can’t allow myself to be as angry as I want to be.

    May Jacob Delgado live on in all of our lives. And the thousands, if not millions, live on as well.

  2. Reefinyateef December 16, 2010 at 5:26 am | Permalink |

    Great tribute! So often people that have artistic talent just need it to be guided in some way, then they can take over the world …

  3. Nuni Skerrett May 9, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Permalink |

    That was my uncle. My mothers brother. God bless you for postin this. it feels good to know he didnt die in vain. he will always be remembered. i love you Jacob. Rest in peace tio. -Samuel Junior Skerrett

  4. david delgado December 15, 2014 at 7:32 pm | Permalink |

    My brother was my world he will never be forgotten..
    Daviddelgado a.k.a babyboi

  5. sam seidel December 15, 2014 at 10:29 pm | Permalink |

    i was thinking about him all day today too, David. he will never be forgotten.


  6. Alexsandra Rolon September 10, 2015 at 2:24 pm | Permalink |

    Love u Tio Even Though I Wasnt Even Born To See You But I Know That u Were A Good Person And U Will Be Looking Down On Me N Jacob…..❤❤❤❤

  7. Noemi Delgado January 25, 2017 at 7:17 am | Permalink |

    He was my brother .Till this day I can’t still believe he is gone .Always in my heart .. Gone but never forgotten love u bro

  8. Ivan delgado January 26, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink |

    Man smh this really means alot to me life for me has never been the same for me since my little brothers life was taken but this is all true on how my brother tried to turn his life around we did everything together my right hand man i love you and miss you everyday.

  9. Javier Delgado August 31, 2019 at 3:10 pm | Permalink |

    My little brother jacob. Today your sister maribel has left us. May you be there to greet her at the pearly gates.you guys are in a good place. Until your brother’s and sisters see yous agin. We love you and always in our memories. Your brother,javier delgado

  10. Ruthy(akahisblueeyezlittlesister) December 15, 2019 at 1:30 pm | Permalink |

    Today marks 18 years since you have left us! God knows how much we miss you down here! But like Jav said Maribel left us to meet you give her a kiss for us! I’m sure she’s happy to see you! Thank you for the happy memories you left us! Like I say it’s never good by it’s see ya later! Rip my brother! AS220 thank you for this post I will always cherish it!

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