Michelle is a native of Denver, Colorado. At the age 7, Michelle and her family moved to rural Verbena, Alabama in the late ’70s. Michelle experienced bullying through racial bias at an early age. Outspoken as a child, Michelle began combating her attackers through physical confrontations leading to multiple suspensions. During her last suspension, Michelle’s father gave her an ultimatum, “Prison or Art.” He challenged her to seize the moment to be creative.
At the age of 13, Michelle harnessed her entrepreneurial spirit and started a hand-painted T-shirt business. After graduation, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and attended the Art Institute of Atlanta studying Graphic Design and Visual Communications.
For nearly 35 years, Michelle has used art, history, and “real talk” conversations to mentor marginalized and disfavored students through visual arts and spoken word. She has created and branded art diversion programs used by juvenile detention centers in Atlanta, Georgia, and Montgomery, Alabama.
Michelle’s art has been shown in galleries across the country notably the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. She has painted for Tyler Perry, Denzel Washington, and countless other stars. She opened a gallery and restaurant called PJR’S FISH AND BBQ RESTAURANT that employed high school students, returning citizens, and the homeless. Michelle has traveled across the country speaking and motivating our children to be More Than a statistic, generalization, or stereotype. She challenges all children and students to defy the odds of victimization.
Michelle is the founder and director of I AM MORE THAN… Youth Empowerment Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. She owns and operates More Than Tours, a social business providing educational tours for nearly 10,000 underserved students in marginalized communities of color. Michelle’s mission is simple,“Exposing Our Children To The Truth, Will Give Them Access To A Seat At The Table.”
Today, Michelle is the creator of The Mothers of Gynecology Monument in Montgomery, Alabama.
She’s USA Today’s Alabama 2022 Woman of the Year.