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‘Bus driving saved me:’ An’twon Colvin’s road to happiness

Cat Oriel

Cat Oriel

Archer's bus 803 driver An'twon Colvin stands in the bus aisle after a long ride. According to Colvin, bus driving has kept him grounded, and he appreciates Tumbleweed Transportation's support and acceptance.

Cat Oriel, The Archer School for Girls

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On any given school day, Archer bus driver An’twon Colvin sports his shades, Tumbleweed uniform and one of his many baseball caps showcasing his favorite major league sports teams.

Colvin, however, is not simply a bus driver. When he’s not working the Archer route, Colvin plays basketball in his free time, supports his family members and advocates for social causes.

The Oracle sat down with Colvin during a long, 13-mile bus ride to learn more about his personal life and the journey that brought him to Archer.

Childhood, Early life and Family

Colvin was born on Sept. 9, 1981, in Chicago, Illinois. He is the middle child in a family of seven kids, raised by a single mother after his father, a Chicago gangster, was killed when Colvin was only five years old.

In high school, Colvin traveled back and fourth between Chicago and Los Angeles. His grandma first came to California for treatment after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Colvin followed her to Los Angeles, along with members of his family trying to escape Chicago’s cold weather.

After high school, he attended El Camino College and then graduated from Los Angeles Community College with an Associate of Arts degree in Business Management. Since then, he has attempted to start his own business multiple times.

Colvin takes a lot of pride in being African-American and is very open and “not ashamed to tell anybody” that he is transgender.

“I love my race, I love my black people, I love everybody. But me personally, I love being black,” he said.

Listen to the audio to hear more about Colvin’s love for the African-American community.

He described his sex change transition as a “tug of war,” but thanks his family for being accepting throughout the whole process.

“My whole family accepted it, even my mom. She’s just been so supportive and such an angel,” Colvin said. “She’s my best friend.”

Although he has encountered people in his life who have not been as understanding, he has never let them get to him.

“People look [at us] like freaks that are sick, [and think] that it’s disgusting. But you know, we people,” he said. “I get hated on at the job by all the guys because I got all the girls. It’s because of who I am. But I don’t let it bother me. I’m just going to be me and do me regardless.”

“I try not to let a lot of stuff get to me… because people fall into depression. You’re pumping testosterone in your body. That has all kinds of side effects. So you gotta stay real grounded,” Colvin said.

Interests and Advocacy

Colvin’s hobbies include playing basketball and volunteering, two activities driven by his strong sense of family.

He comes from a family of professional basketball players. Colvin’s brother-in-law, Justice Graham, played and now coaches in Finland, while his first cousin Nick Young is a shooting guard and small forward for the Los Angeles Lakers.

“We [are] basketball players in my family,” Colvin said. “It was just a natural thing. [Now, my niece and I] go out there and shoot around, just to give her some more skill and show her what she’s going to be dealing with if she decides to play.”

After high school, Colvin was set to go to University of California, Davis, to play division one basketball — until an Achilles injury ended his career. But that injury has not stopped him from playing for fun with his niece or watching his cousins and brother compete on TV.

To showcase his love of sports, Colvin has a large hat collection — over 300 hats. He claims to wear a baseball caps almost every day because of his “peanut-[shaped] head.”

“My favorite hat that I have in my closet is a Satchel Paige hat. It was signed by one of his descendants, and it was signed by Rosa Parks… I keep it in [a] glass [case],” he said. “My favorite hat [that] I like to wear is my Chicago Bulls hat, because I’m from Chicago, baby. I got to represent that all the way.”

Aside from sports, one of Colvin’s biggest interests is giving back to organizations that raise money and awareness for diseases and disorders that have affected his family.

“I paint pictures… I auction them off and donate the money to Saint Jude or Breast Cancer Awareness, because my grandma died from cancer. So I’m a really big advocate for breast cancer awareness,” he said. “And kids with autism, because my brother has cerebral palsy.”

He also advocates for communities that are typically discriminated against in society or that he personally connects with.

“I volunteer at the animal shelter, I go downtown to feed the homeless for Christmas and Thanksgiving, I go down there to give them free haircuts… I advocate for the gay community, Black Lives Matter. And I’m an advocate for everything I believe in, as far as the have-nots. I’m with the have-nots, the people who are considered America’s disgrace,” Colvin said.

“I don’t see it that way. I am them. I’m transgender; I advocate with my people,” he said.

Journey to Bus Driving, Tumbleweed & Archer

As with basketball, Colvin comes from a family of musicians. He has many family and friends who have worked in the industry including his first-cousin Kendrick Lamar and his friend Left-Eye from girl group TLC and rapper Crooked I. Before working as a bus driver or coming to Archer, Colvin himself worked in the music industry. He was a part of a music group almost signed by Death Row Records.

“When that dried up and the bills didn’t work out, [I was just working] here and there,” he said. “Hustling. Just hustling.”

He turned to working odd-jobs and made money wherever he could.

“I worked at El Camino College in the lab department, and before that I had various jobs like Home Depot. Nothing I really stayed at, nothing that really kept me grounded,” Colvin said.

Wanting to do something different and looking for a job to keep him grounded, Colvin found bus driving.

“I kept my record clean, kept myself out of jail, I don’t do drugs and I don’t drink or smoke so that’s why I really didn’t fit in with my other peers. So I said, ‘Okay. Let me try bus driving,’” he said.

“I didn’t know if I was going to like it, but then I started liking it and it was cool, so ever since then I’ve been doing it,” Colvin said.

Colvin first worked for Durham Bus Company in Compton until hearing about Tumbleweed from a friend. He initially drove for Palisades High School until switching to Archer in 2013.

Although he was scared to leave Durham, he is content with his move to Tumbleweed.

“Before I was there, there was nothing about transgenders or respecting the transgender rights. I changed the paperwork. That’s how much this company supported me. That’s why I’m with them,” he said. “You’re going to deal with the hate, but the love just overcomes all that, especially when you’re a good person.”

Ultimately, Colvin’s main priority as a bus driver is the safety of the girls on his bus.

“I just try to do my best to get [the girls] to [their] parents safely. That’s my priority. [They] come first. My job is to make sure [they’re] straight,” he said.

Colvin credits bus driving for leading him down a better path in life.

“I was never a gang member, but I was always gang affiliated. But [with] that life right here, I wouldn’t be able to drive buses. That life right there… It can lead you to getting arrested and having a record. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do now if I led that life,” Colvin said. “I’ve seen my friends, I’ve seen them go down the wrong path, so I just took a different route.”

“It kept me with something to look forward to,” he said. “Bus driving saved me.”

Read the original story here.

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