Book Club for Incarcerated Youth and Adults

by Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop
Book Club for Incarcerated Youth and Adults
Book Club for Incarcerated Youth and Adults
Book Club for Incarcerated Youth and Adults
Book Club for Incarcerated Youth and Adults
Book Club for Incarcerated Youth and Adults
Book Club for Incarcerated Youth and Adults
Book Club for Incarcerated Youth and Adults
Book Club for Incarcerated Youth and Adults
Book Club for Incarcerated Youth and Adults
Book Club for Incarcerated Youth and Adults
Book Club for Incarcerated Youth and Adults
Book Club for Incarcerated Youth and Adults

Project Report | Oct 2, 2018
"We cannot be what we cannot see."

By Crystal Iwuoha | Communications and Development Associate

Latest Free Minds Connect Issue
Latest Free Minds Connect Issue

Thank you to all of our GlobalGiving donors! You all have helped us cultivate a community for hundreds of incarcerated youths through reading and writing. 

Our Prison Book Club has proven to be liberating for our members who are miles away from home. Every day, our members tell us how much they appreciate receiving books, discussion questions, cards, and our monthly newsletter, the Free Minds Connect. Here are some excerpts from letters with “attitudes of gratitude:”

“The good deeds of Free Minds (FM) will be immortalized in the history of time because for every one of those deeds, a seed was planted into every person that interacted with FM.” - Free Minds member Alex

“My confidence is bolstered now. I am eager to join in discussions, express my wit, and even offer guidance to others who have yet to see education as a beacon of hope and security. The book Girl Rising offered a powerful message of how fortunate we are in America to have so many educational opportunities available to us. I will never disregard these opportunities.” - Free Minds member Duane

Books Across the Miles: Slugg

Though Free Minds members have finished reading Tony Lewis’s Slugg, they can’t stop discussing it! This book has definitely been a crowd favorite. Slugg: A Boy’s Life in the Age of Mass Incarceration is a memoir by DC author, community leader, and reentry expert Tony Lewis Jr., who recounts his personal story after his father, Tony Lewis Sr., was incarcerated and sentenced to life in prison.

Grappling with the book’s themes of love, sacrifice, and service, Free Minds readers in federal prison continue to write us about the popular memoir. See a couple of their responses below:

“I disagree with his [Tony Lewis Sr.’s] decision [to choose the drug game], because he wasn't contributing to society or to his community in a lasting, and meaningful way. He helped assist with the destruction of his community. He left his wife without a husband and a son without a father (in a physical sense). I am ashamed that I, too, have left my ex-wife and daughters without me. I took myself away from them. The government didn't do it; I chose to commit my crimes, regretfully.”- DK

“The most important thing that I believe a parent should do to maintain a relationship with their children is communicate. Talk to them; teach them; learn from them. If it’s anything that I advise guys to do in prison? It is, I tell them to talk to their kids. I always hear “I don’t know what to say” but I tell them to talk to their kids like they are human. I tell them to treat their kids as an individual. Write them.”- SC

Free Minds members voted for our next nation-wide read to be Bastards of the Reagan Era, a collection of poetry by Reginald Dwayne Betts. Feel free to read along with us in the next Connect issue. We would love to have you join the conversation as well!

Renowned Young Adult Authors Inspire Teens at the DC Jail

This summer has been eventful with two fantastic author visits at the DC Jail for our young members in the Jail Book Club.

The 16 and 17-year-old members were honored to host New York Times bestselling authors Jason Reynolds (Long Way Down) and Elizabeth Acevedo (The Poet X) who both left the boys revitalized, encouraged, and inspired.

Jason Reynolds shared childhood stories about growing up in Southeast DC like many of our book club members. Captivated by his compelling story telling, the teens listened closely as Reynolds shared his introduction to his love for writing through poetry and 1980’s hip-hop. Reynolds parted the group with words of encouragement, stating, “We cannot be what we cannot see.” 

Following Reynolds’s visit, National Poetry Slam Champion and author Elizabeth Acevedo promoted determination, resilience, change, and healing for these young men and attributed poetry as a way to "hustle" her mind and "create an opportunity" to say what she wanted to say. During her session, Acevedo performed powerful pieces on womanhood and self-expression while centering discussions on “staying true to yourself” despite opposing expectations.

The young boys of our Jail Book Club were motivated to write their own books as Acevedo and Reynolds emphasized the importance of sharing your story, perseverance, and using creativity to create paths to success.

Connect: Healthy Communication

In the latest issue of our newsletter, the Free Minds Connect, our members, staff, and volunteers shared their thoughts — and poetry— on the theme, “Healthy Communication.”

Incarcerated at 38 years old, Free Minds member Cornelious believed he did not hold the capacity to advance his communication skills, mindset, nor self-presentation during his incarceration. After noticing that people didn’t find him approachable, he consciously altered his demeanor. He wrote, “I got to know some wonderful men I never would have had the chance to know if I hadn’t recognized I was not showing my true personality. Just a few changes [smiling, eye contact, and greeting] changed everything. I recommend it!”

When asked to share advice with our incarcerated members, Cornelious wrote, “Pause and think about the consequences, be calm but authoritative, stay in contact with positive people, and stand up for yourself without cussing or raising your voice; just state the facts.”

Once again, thank you for being an ongoing supporter and motivator to our members and staff. As we move into the rest of the year, we want to leave you with a quote from one of our Free Minds members, Marquis, who sees Free Minds as more than just a book club, but a brotherhood:

In prison, it has gotten to the point where I really only open up to individuals that are Free Minds members.  Whenever I meet fellow members, they have more on their mind than your average.”

As always, thank you for having a kindred spirit and believing in our mission! Your open-heartedness has made this all possible.

Slugg: A Boy's Life in the Age of Incarceration
Slugg: A Boy's Life in the Age of Incarceration
PBC Member Dustin's handmade thank you card
PBC Member Dustin's handmade thank you card
Author Jason Reynolds (center) visits DC Jail
Author Jason Reynolds (center) visits DC Jail
Author Elizabeth Acevedo (center) visits DC Jail
Author Elizabeth Acevedo (center) visits DC Jail
Next read: Bastards of the Reagan Era
Next read: Bastards of the Reagan Era

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Jul 5, 2018
Books Not Barriers

By Crystal Iwuoha | Communications and Development Associate

Apr 5, 2018
"I Can Use My Education to Make a Difference"

By Jessica Richards | Project Intern

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Organization Information

Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @FreeMindsDC
Project Leader:
Tara Libert
Washington , DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA United States
$35,040 raised of $40,000 goal
 
1,032 donations
$4,960 to go
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