Two Former Rival Gang Members Bonded Over A Love Of Writing. Now, They Have A Book Out.
Long Beach residents Stanley James II and Travon Edwards left their gang activity in the past to focus on a new chapter.
September 14, 2021 at 10:42 pm
Long Beach residents Stanley James II and Travon Edwards weren't supposed to become friends, let alone business partners. They both grew up on two different sides of town and at one point were involved in rival gangs. But, Edwards tells ABC7 it was their mutual love of writing that led to their unlikely friendship.
Edwards was outside attempting to sell his books on the street when he was noticed James, who runs his own publishing company called Gang Tales. The two of them managed to put the past beef aside for the sake of their mutual interests and collaborated on a novel titled Project Baby, which was released last August.
The two now agree on a new purpose — to change the narrative of street violence and encourage younger generations to avoid gang life and spark positive interactions within their communities.
"I'm like this man, he's from a rival gang and he's really doing right by me. So, it made me want to do right by him," Edwards noted.
James said since the release of their book, he began recognizing the difference he was making in the lives of others when he started receiving messages from people who said his work inspired them. According to the writer, one man went so far as to share that James' writing has "been pointing me in a different direction."
"Knowing that I got a lot of kids and youngsters that are growing up in the street the way I came are looking up to me for a way out, and when they express it to me and verbally and physically show me that I'm doing something positive and inspiring, it just makes me go harder and makes me know that I got a lot more to do," James told the outlet.
Since the release of Project Baby, James continues to work on publishing more books, while Edwards has broken into the vegan catering business in Florida.
The collaboration is just one of a few examples of Los Angeles gang members who have come together in unity. There was a major gang truce in 2019 for a peace march after the death of Nipsey Hussle, according to TMZ. It marked the largest number of gangs to unify since the 1992 Los Angeles riots, which were spurred by the beating of Rodney King and the acquittal of the police officers that committed the violence.