We asked the Board to write on the topic “What Project Hope means to me”. This is the first article in this series. We hope it will give you some insights into who we are as well as what we are all about.
BROTHERHOOD AND HOPE
When asked to write this article about “What Project Hope means to me” so many words came to my mind instantly. Words such as…….friends, family, support system, fighters and the words just kept trickling into my thoughts. However, as I readied myself to use that abundance of words to formulate this article my heart chimed in. My heart made me realize that I could use every word in the world and still I would not be able to express to you what Project Hope truly means to me. So, I decided to tell you a few things about Project Hope and hopefully you’ll get at least an idea of what Project Hope means to me.
When you arrive on death row, you arrive alone! You normally don’t know anyone…there’s no friends or family. So, you arrive out of sorts, on guard, on the lookout for and expecting prison games, (you’ve heard stories about) and attacks. Instead what I found were extended hands, good attitudes and caring people. Then came an invitation to attend an orientation of a prison organization called Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty. Yeah, right! Then I thought I don’t have anything else to do so I can at least go hear what these guys have to say. I listened and I heard what they had to say (because there is a difference between just listening and actually hearing what is being said), and I liked what I heard.
This organization had been formed out of compassion for another human being who had had an execution date scheduled, approached the guys asking them to save him and leaving them disoriented and heartbroken for their lack of not knowing how to save him and not knowing how to try. So, out of that injustice came their sense of duty. A sense of duty not just to themselves but to the other guys as well. A duty to educate themselves, the other guys, friends, family and the public about all of the injustices involved in having the death penalty. A sense of duty to fight! Yes, I heard what they had to say and it all spoke to me. So, I didn’t hesitate to join and the more I learned about this organization the more I knew I just had to be a part of it.
There was a guy whose father was a high ranking Ku Klux Klan member and who because of his misguided attempt to garner some sort of approval from his father made a terrible mistake. When he arrived on death row the administration wanted and planned to keep him isolated from the other guys because the crime he was convicted of was racist in nature. However the guys approached the administration and informed them that he would be alright and that there would be no trouble. Of course it took some convincing and negotiating but eventually the administration allowed him to be around the other guys and he received the very same invitation to a Project Hope orientation as I would. I would eventually come to meet and know this person, a man with a good heart and extended had to help his brothers, no matter the race.
So when asked “what does Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty mean to me”….a compassion for fellow human beings, a duty to educate myself and others on all the injustices involved in having the death penalty (because as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere”), and a duty to stand up and fight. Family is not always the one you’re born into, but sometimes the one you choose or that chooses you!
Be Blessed and Keep Hope Alive,