More Than Tours a social enterprise funded out of necessity to expose students and immature travelers to Alabama’s rich history. Montgomery is widely known as the cradle of the confederacy and the birthplace of the civil rights movement. Montgomery, Alabama gave birth to notable musical musical talents, world renowned folk artists, authors, and abolitionists.
FOUNDER & VISIONARY
Michelle is a native of Denver, Colorado. At the age 7, Michelle and her family moved to rural Verbena, Alabama in the late 70’s. Michelle experienced bullying through racial bias at an early age. Out spoken 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.
Today, 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.”
WAYS TO SUPPORT
DONATE TO THE MORE UP CAMPUS CAPITAL CAMPAIGN
For the first time since the civil rights movement there is a national reckoning around race in America. More Up seeks to participate in this reckoning by finding creative ways to honor the voiceless, the minimized, the ignored. Phase I is the erection of the “Mothers of Gynecology” monument, to honor the sacrifice of Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey, the enslaved experimental subjects of the so-called “father of gynecology,” J. Marion Sims.
More Up is located in Montgomery, Alabama, and the “Mothers of Gynecology” monument will stand not far from where Sims’s dastardly experiments were conducted. Drawing on a comprehensive re-examination of Sims’s career, and never-before-seen archival documents that reveal the lives and fates of Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey, the “Mothers of Gynecology” will act as a first step toward teaching and reimagining the true story of the nation, facing the injustice of the past and honoring the courage of overlooked heroes.