When Charles Clemons was born, he had Coats disease, a rare disorder that afflicts the eye. At age 3, he lost his right eye to the ailment.
At school, he said, students picked on him. They would tackle him to the ground, pluck out his artificial right eye, and throw it in the grass, laughing. Clemons said the bullying continued until he was 10, after his parents divorced and his mother, Virginia, moved her five children to the Grove Hall area of Dorchester.
“It’s painful thinking about it,’’ he recalled. “I never told my mother.”
Clemons, now 52 and a candidate for mayor of Boston, tells this story on the campaign trail, hoping to drive home a message to the people of Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan that he knows what it is like to be picked on and counted out. He has been spreading the message that he would lead the city by creating better schools, improving public safety, and encouraging more men to be surrogate fathers to troubled youths.
“I know he has passion, because he wears it on his sleeves,’’ said Roosevelt St. Louis, a former Mattapan businessman who has known Clemons for three decades. “You can count on him.”
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