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A 13-year-old Mother, a Murdered Father and a Scholarship To Yale

Leonard Galmon’s favorite artwork from his senior year, his first and only year at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, was on display this spring at the Contemporary Arts Center. The three-dimensional painting-collage shows a young man in a gray hoodie, his shoulders hunched, looking back at the viewer. On the ground behind him is a gun. The young man’s shadow stretches over it. To the artist, it’s a simple exhortation: Walk away from trouble.

If Leonard, 17, had grown up in different circumstances, there are things that would have come to him as a matter of course. Enough food for the whole family, all month long. A good school. An art class with proper supplies. For most of his life, he had none of these things. What he had was a family that loved him, a library, a school, an art class.

He made the most of them, until he at last saw a way to something more. Leonard Galmon — artist, oldest of six children, son of a 13-year-old girl and a murdered drug dealer, veteran of one of the worst schools in New Orleans — is going to Yale.