From Prisoners to the President


In December 2008, as I was starting the final year of a 12-year sentence in a New York state prison, the African American Organization, led by prisoners in Otisville Correctional Facility, put together its annual Kwanzaa celebration. During the seven days of Kwanzaa men from the prison would gather in a classroom and observe each day’s principle. Every night for about three hours, we would listen to prepared speeches from our peers that explored the principle of the night. That year, on the second night, I was given the opportunity to deliver remarks aboutkujichagulia, Swahili for self-determination.

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