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Winston Willis: A Memoir  

Published on February 14, 2024

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Winston Willis: A Memoir, takes readers on the compelling journey of a long-forgotten local hero in Cleveland. Written by the most attentive witness to his extraordinary life, his sister, Aundra Willis Carrasco, it delves deep into the heart of Winston’s unbreakable spirit, tracking his journey from the challenges of a Montgomery, Alabama boyhood, to the gritty streets of Detroit, Michigan, where he honed the grit and tenacity that would define his epic saga. It also recounts the remarkable journey of a young Black entrepreneur who reshaped Cleveland’s east side in the 1960s and 1970s. Starting at the historic intersection of East 105th Street and Euclid Avenue, Winston and created what was frequently called “an inner-city Disneyland,” and “Black Folks Downtown”, defying the odds during a tumultuous era. By the age of 28, he had become a self-made millionaire after leveraging the aftermath of nationwide urban riots and white flight, to invest in commercial real estate and reviving a crime-ridden area into a thriving symbol of Black prosperity. Literally creating something out of nothing. Yet, Winston’s meteoric rise ignited a firestorm of racial hostility, transforming him into a prey for the vultures of political and judicial malfeasance. This explosive narrative rips the veil off the ferocious war over prime real estate, pitting Winston against a relentless racist White power structure. Cloaked in the guise of “urban renewal,” the city of Cleveland and University Circle Incorporated (UCI), callously snatched his hard-earned land, feeding it to the insatiable expansion ambitions of the mighty and world-renowned Cleveland Clinic. Without compensation, just or unjust, to the rightful owner, as required by law. This book delves deep into the heart of Winston’s unbreakable spirit, and his determination to make the law work as it was intended to. There is a Kenyan proverb that rightly points out that “Until Lions have historians, hunters will be heroes.” And so, herein lies the Lion’s story. This memoir probes the contentious struggle of Winston Willis, now 84 years old, reflecting on the nature of righteousness in such conflicts. The story is a testament to one man’s undaunted fight against overwhelming odds, offering a fresh perspective on a forgotten man and a chapter of urban and racial history. Winston Willis: A Memoir is now available on Amazon KDP.

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