A mother’s mission: Combating domestic violence
Nova Henry and daughter had dreams cut short.
By Mary L. Datcher From the Windy City Word
(Part One of a Two Part Series)
CHICAGO, IL – It was a day that no mother or father ever wants to experience – a call informing them that their child has been murdered. The moment a child enters the world; most parents take on the responsibility of protector, nurturer, provider and gatekeeper. Often, parents prepare themselves for the tables to reverse when one day they will be the ones cared for by their adult children, looked after and worldly provisions passed on to their heirs along with their final wishes.
Yolan Corner didn’t have the privilege. Nor did her daughter, Nova Henry. Neither will be able to see Nova’s daughter, Ava, march across the stage to receive her college diploma, participate in her wedding or see Ava have children of her own. These precious moments-were stolen the night Frederick Goings murdered Nova, 24, and her 10-month old daughter six years ago in their South Loop townhouse.
Instead of being paralyzed by the tragedy, Yolan Corner has used it to become a champion for families that are surviving violent crimes. Now remarried, she reflects on how her life has changed since that tragic night in January 2009. A constant tastemaker on the House music scene, she is now married to Chicago event promoter, Reggie Corner; folks often call her by her nickname, Loni House.
“Actually Loni House became about when I started a Face-book page around 2008,” she explained. “Reggie and I began dating. When I started that, I had moved into House music. I’m with Reggie now; so I thought about ‘House’ because I like House music. Then, it dawned on me, that’s really my maiden name because my biological father’s name is House.”
Growing up on the Southside of Chicago, she spent time between her grandparents’s home in a middle class neighborhood in Cleveland and Chicago. After her grandmother became ill, she returned to Chicago to live with her mother.
“Growing up, I remember myself saying when I was a little girl, whenever someone would ask my name, I would reply, ‘My name is Yolan and I’m Black and I’m proud!’ I remember hearing this James Brown song, which was always playing in my mother’s house. So when someone would ask me my name, that’s how I would always respond. Every since then, I grew up always having my own opinion. That was kind of the beginning of me trying to do some things.”
During her senior year at Thorndale High School, she discovered that she was pregnant, prompting her transfer to a school for unwed mothers. As fate would have it, she was repeating a path etched by her mother. Instead of realizing her dreams of attending college and becoming an entertainment lawyer, she began making a living by working in her parent’s beauty and barber shop as a hairstylist.
“Every weekend, I had to be at work. That’s how I got into doing hair,” she explained. “I got married there; my dad’s shop was on 79th and Halsted. I would remember Father [Michael] Pfleger coming to the neighborhood and petitioning to close down some of the liquor stores. I really admired him for his fight and fearlessness.”
She did not know that she would later work with Father Pfleger, a noted Chicago activist, years later.
He wasn’t the only celebrity who would enter her life.
She also developed a close relationship with future basketball star Eddy Curry, who was often a stable in the Henry home.
“Our home was the house that our kid’s friends would hang out and feel comfortable visiting,” Nova recalled She noticed the platonic friendship that the two young adults shared soon turned romantic. Between Curry’s transitions from college to professional basketball, he moved Nova into his home, where Nova eventually became pregnant with the couple’s first child, Noah.
Ecstatic about the impending arrival of her first grandchild, Loni noticed a change in her daughter.
“Something in her changed; her self esteem was low, which I had not seen in her,” Loni remembered.
Suspecting her husband of infidelity, Nova moved out and began rebuilding her life.
(NEXT WEEK: Tragedy hits home)