By BOTWC Staff
Raven Smith is the creator of Straight From The GO – All Good Things From ChicaGO, a t-shirt line she created as a teen in 2016 to dispel negative perceptions about violence in Chicago, the Obama Foundation reports.
“I was driving to Morgan Park High School and I noticed a Chicago flag on the way. I guess you can say that’s what sparked the idea for how I imagined the first shirt and logo to look,” Smith recalled.
That was the genesis of her clothing line and the signature t-shirts that helped unify locals under a singular mission of pride for their community. Smith then began donating a portion of the sales from the shirts to the families of fallen first responders and victims of gun violence.
“We’ve got to stand up for positive change, that’s what Straight From The GO is doing. It’s a movement for positivity. I want to see a better Chicago,” Smith explained.
When Raven graduated from high school and headed to the University of Missouri for college, she continued her Straight From The GO t-shirts, launching “GO COMO” shirts that were sold in Mizzou bookstores. In keeping tradition, she also donated a portion of the proceeds to Molly’s Miles Foundation, a non-profit based in Missouri focused on honoring the survivors of fallen law enforcement officers.
She is set to graduate this spring with a second degree in product development, holding a minor in business and a certification in digital merchandising. As she gears up for the next chapter, she plans to continue her “GO COMO” shirts while continuing more initiatives under her Straight From The GO company.
When noticing an increase in violent crimes in the city during the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith decided to create a campaign, calling on notable Chicagoans to sign one of her t-shirts in an effort to lend their support to her mission. Since then Raven has received more than 39 signatures including some from U.S. Ambassador and former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and a number of local reporters. Now the campaign has received support from one of the most famous hometown heroes yet – Mrs. Michelle Obama
Smith said she is overjoyed that Obama would sign her t-shirt and hopes this will inspire the youth in her city to come together.
“I just can’t believe this! I admire Michelle Obama. Seeing where she came from and where she is now is so inspiring,” Smith exclaimed.
She wanted to pick people who could serve as an inspiration and aligned with her mission of dispelling the myth that Chicago is synonymous with violence. While Smith has been grateful for everyone who has lended their support, she hopes that other young people will see the initiative and be inspired to choose similar paths, ones that bring people together and foster safer communities.
“I chose people for the shirt who embody Chicago. I selected successful people who could empower the youth. It’s important for young people to see individuals they can look up to because you never know what you can be,” said Smith.
She is hoping to have the shirt put on display at the Museum of Broadcast and Communications so that all the people of Chicago can remember the time in history when a young person led the way!
Cover photo: Michelle Obama lends support for youth-led t-shirt campaign to combat perceptions of violence in Chicago/Photo Courtesy of @StraightFromTheGO/Instagram