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Tyrone Seals, Sr: “You got to find it within yourself to combat the situation and try to keep moving.”

Becca Newton

Tyrone Seals, Sr. lives in Columbia and spoke with the Missouri On Mic team at the Daniel Boone Regional Library in February. The library also serves as a warming center for the community.

Tyrone is currently unhoused and shared some of his experiences. He spoke about how he wants more people to understand the realities of being homeless.

Missouri on Mic is an oral history and journalism project documenting stories from around the state in its 200th year.

Tyrone Seals, Sr.: I was actually born here in Missouri. Yeah, the boot heel part of Missouri – a small town called Hayti.

I should have stayed in Wisconsin, I mean, I had a girlfriend. She was a doctor. She’d just came out of Med school. I was working two jobs, but the moment I came back here to Missouri, everything went downhill – I don't know if this place is just cursed, or I'm just cursed.

I’ve been homeless now for about… probably about three years.

A lot of people are just a couple paychecks away from being homeless. You can be riding around in a nice car, you can be living in a four-bedroom house, and, you know, and that can be snatched from you at any time. At any time.

I've slept in, under bushes. I've slept in cardboard boxes. I've slept in, I mean – the worst thing I've slept in was a dumpster, trash dumpster.

But the dumpster was clean, I mean – it's immaculate, spectacularly clean. I'm serious. I mean, it's like it was brand new and stuff, and I mean, I slept in there, but it was, you know – it was a little chilly and stuff and everything.

 Tyrone Seals, Sr. lives in Columbia and is currently experiencing homelessness. He wears a blue pair of coveralls and a ball cap. He wears glasses with one eye blacked out.
Becca Newton

I mean, I’m still homeless right now but I’m in a better situation.

If you don't have a strong mind – game over for you. Game over.

You got to believe in God. You got to pray to God. If you don't believe in God, you better find somebody, something, some higher authority in your life that you can talk to or relay your problems to.

Being around a lot of different people that's homeless, and everybody's got some sort of chip on their shoulder, and you never know who you come across, and then somehow, you know, fights can break out, and before you know it – somebody can be hurt.

Like I did. I got hurt in the fight, you know, and I don't even know what me and the guy got to fighting for, but now, here it is, I'm walking around with one eye.

It's costly to me and stuff because even though I thought I was gonna lose my eye. I'm scheduled for surgery next week and stuff to get, you know, for them to go ahead and re-attach my retina and stuff and everything.

Fortunately, for me, I was lucky and blessed.

It's just all about the situation – how you get yourself back up to face the situation and stuff again, you know, you got to find it within yourself to combat the situation and try to keep moving.

It’s almost like being a war veteran, y'know? It’s a very difficult situation. You gotta make hard choices and decisions.

I mean, I would like to set up a nonprofit organization that, you know, if you people would like to make donations, you know – I'd be glad to take those donations and help with, you know, pass it along to the right people

You know, I mean – myself, I'm trying to start a podcast that can help the homeless people or get people to recognize what homelessness is about.

Alice Wiche is a student reporter and producer for KBIA. She will graduate from the University of Missouri in spring 2022 with a Bachelors in Journalism and a Minor in History.
Becca Newton is a student reporter and producer at KBIA. They will graduate from the University of Missouri in spring 2022 with a degree in Multimedia Convergence Journalism and minors in Peace Studies and History.