Finding Beauty in a Hard Place


“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature’s laws wrong, it learned to walk without having feet. Funny, it seems to by keeping it’s dreams; it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else even cared.”
― Tupac Shakur, The Rose That Grew from Concrete

Remain open to beauty, and you notice it exists everywhere, often lingering conspicuously in those hard places, sitting among boarded up houses, broken glass and buried dreams.

Like so many hip-hop greats, Tupac Shakur shared profound lessons with us, but his poem, “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” about beauty in unexpected places, resonates so deeply with my spirit. These lines about that unlikely blooming rose echo most loudly: “Funny by keeping it’s dreams; Pac wrote, “it learned to breathe fresh air.”

I am sure we were quite a sight yesterday; me wearing 3 inch stilettos, a vibrant dress, while holding my daughter Naima; Shannon-Eli, blog co-editor with Timberland boots, electric blue eyeshadow, and Keston, my husband and blog multimedia director, photographing us against colorful murals, epic in scope.

Artistic beauty pouring out from an unlikely place, along Greenmount Avenue, a street in Baltimore synonymous with crack and poverty, vulgarity and despair. I felt my body loosen as the sun lightly enveloped my arms and legs; for the first time in months I walked through this street I often drive by and saw it anew.

One feels a different sense of a place when walking, a kind of connection with the people who inhabit the space; you come to share an experience, if only for a moment.


There is beauty in taking time to see what you would otherwise ignore, jumping out of your comfort zone, and discovering when you move out of your own way, you soar.

As we headed back to the car, an older man passing by curiously asked how our photo shoot went; “we looked beautiful,” he said earlier as Shannon and I posed and laughed with one another. “What were we doing it all for?” he wanted to know. Shannon told him it was for our blog, Live In Color, and to visit us online; he said he would check us out, with an easy smile, and I believe he will. Connecting with another human being and bringing the light of art, there is authentic beauty.

Live In Color – Emelda

All photos taken by Keston De Coteau, multimedia director for Live In Color blog, filmmaker, photographer and founder of Keystone Productions

Emelda De Coteau
Follow Me:

4 Replies to “Finding Beauty in a Hard Place”

  1. That was beautiful! I never looked at those murals as nothing more than just a way to cover up the ugly. I get it, I learned a lot thanks for the roses!

Leave a Reply to Emelda De Coteau & Shannon-Eli Braxton Cancel reply