In July 2019 I will have the good fortune to marry the love of my life. As a part of my bachelor weekend festivities on June 29th I completed a Spartan Race (as if getting married wasn’t enough motivation to increase my fitness level). For those that are not familiar, the Spartan Race is a series of outdoor obstacles inspired by the warrior society of ancient Sparta. I’m not sure that I consider myself a “Spartan”, however, since I’m going to subject myself to this strenuous physical trial I figured why not do it with a purpose in mind.
Over the past few years, the plight of the incarcerated in the United States penal system has been prominent in my consciousness. My interest in this plight was further heightened after viewing the movies like 13th and Milwaukee 53206. The recent release of “When They See Us” has pushed the conversation around injustice experienced by African American men in the criminal justice system further into the consciousness of mainstream America. With that in mind, I have decided to use the run as an opportunity to promote awareness around the issue of mass incarceration and raise funds for community organizations that assist those directly affected by mass incarceration.
I will share relevant facts regarding this issue to raise awareness and money for the following organizations: Chicago Books to Women in Prison (CBWP), Texts for Teaching in Prison, and First Afrikan Presbyterian Church Fawohodie Ministry.
Chicago Books to Women in Prison (Chicago IL)
Chicago Books to Women in Prison (CBWP) is an all-volunteer group that distributes free paperback books to incarcerated women, including transwomen, nationwide. They are dedicated to the promotion of self-empowerment, education, and entertainment through reading. The women send their requests for books directly to CBWP, which matches each request from their stock of thousands of donated books. CBWP sends three books in each package with a note of encouragement from a participating volunteer. I’ve been fortunate to spend several Sunday afternoons with the group over the past two years gathering books and sending packages to women. Donations will help fund CWPB's operating space and its biggest expense—about $1,400 a month in postage.
Texts for Teaching in Prison (Chicago IL)
My good friend Dr. Dewitt Scott currently teaches a weekly course titled "Black Male Leadership" inside of a prison in the Chicago Land Area. Topics within the class include, but are not limited to, conflict mediation, male-female relationships, African American history, and fatherhood. Donations contribute to the purchase of the books for class and plays a significant role in rehabilitating prisoners, making the streets of Chicago safer, and suppressing mass incarceration in America.
First Afrikan Presbyterian Church Fawohodie Ministry (Lithonia Ga)
Fawohodie is an adinkra symbol which translates as: "Independence comes with its responsibilities.” The primary aim of the ministry is to support individuals and the families of individuals who are incarcerated or were previously incarcerated. The initial focus of the ministry is on providing particular and grouped services to members of the FAC community who have been incarcerated or who have family members who are or who have been recently incarcerated. Partnering with the First Afrikan Community Development Organization (FACDC) the following services affected families. Funds raised will assist with programming and distribution of resources to families affected by mass incarceration.
At the end of the campaign, I will match the first $150 in donations allowing for minimum gift $100 dollars to each organization. Money raised above that amount will be split evenly among the 3 organizations. During the last campaign, I was able to successfully raise over $600 giving over $200 to each organization. I hoping to match and exceed the $600 total. I greatly appreciate your time, prayers and consideration!