His friends like to call him the Mayor of Mount Vernon Avenue – that’s because he looks out for the place he’s called home since childhood.
Al Edmondson doesn’t let urban issues like gun violence and drugs drive him out of the place that he’s always loved.
Instead of leaving his heart on the east side, he worked to become the heart of his home turf.
And if he isn’t the beat, at the very least, he’s the buzz of the neighborhood.
In his barbershop, A Cut Above The Rest, he has a “though-the-years” mural.
“Somebody has to step up and say, ‘I’m going to do it,’” Edmondson said. “When you come in, we talk about issues, community politics, and it all stays here. We can solve the problems of the world in a barbershop.”
Edmondson walks the talk and uses his business to do so.
Plaza cleanups start at the barbershop. So does the community newsletter.
A see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil message you see on the side of his building is what he preaches at the barbershop.
“He is a civic-minded man of integrity. As he’s moved forward, he hasn’t gone alone. He has pulled the community with him, he’s taken the community with him,” said customer William Butler.
“We’ve been on life support for 20 years, and now all excitement with development, people are coming back,” Edmondson said.
He knows that even pushing the small stuff, like a fresh coat of paint on a business, makes a big difference in a community.
He understands that people want to feel good about where they live.
It’s why he works to make the “back-in-the-day” spirit of his barbershop mural a present-day reality that hopefully will inspire future artists.
“This community has been a mother and father to me for so long,” Edmondson said. “I have an obligation to business, the people young and old to help make change.”
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