by Vanessa "Va-Va" Woodard Byers
Willie L. Bell, Jr. BKA Will “Da Real One” Bell, was gunned down early last Sunday morning as he was leaving his North Miami club, The Literary Café and Poetry Lounge. Various news reports describe him as a “poet” but Da Real One was more than that. He was a businessman, poetry guru/advocate and community activist.
I learned of his death through William “DC” Clark’s Facebook profile page. Clark was in disbelief as were others. I did what I usually do when there is breaking news, jump on Twitter and search for tweets on the topic. Oh yeah, it was true. Another victim of gun violence. When does the madness stop?
Here is but one of the touching tributes to Bell from a friend on Facebook:
Day two without WILL DA REAL ONE !!!
by Errol Bigdee Bryant on Monday, May 30, 2011 at 11:26am
Day two with out WILL DA REAL ONE,still trying to wrap my head around it but cant.thinking back many years ago while talking with him,he said he was going to change the poetry game he was going all in full speed ahead.me being the negative person i was at the time i said poetry is for "SUCKERS",he just laughed and looked at me and in comedic Will fashion told me then just sit back and watch me "SUCK" the life outta everybody with the words im gonna spit out my mouth.Lesson learned bro,you said it and you did it,and we all love you for that and the person you were to all.you will forever be an iconic figure,not just in the hood but world wide,because you touched lives any and everywhere you graced with your presence.
I only met Bell once several years ago. He was a cool guy. The spoken word community was devastated. Friends and those he mentored poured out their hearts on social media outlets. Mainstream media captured his tragic death from local news to CNN International.
Several fans showed respect for Bell at a candlelight vigil today. Of course there was candlelight, spoken word and tears. Will Bell overcome many obstacles in his life to provide an outlet for poets and, ironically, encourage young people to stop the violence.
There were witnesses to his shooting and it’s likely someone will come forth with information. Will Da Real One was loved by too many for this case to go cold. Anyone with information on this crime should contact the North Miami Police Department 305-891-8111 or Crimestoppers at 305-371-TIPS.
Photo Credit: Will Da Real One Facebook Tribute Page