RARE Stanley Tookie Williams Interview and more

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My Letter To Incarcerated Youth, No. 1

I’ve been on San Quentin’s death row for more than 21 years. I hope that this brief message will provoke thoughts of change among you.

Across this nation, countless young men and women, like you, are vegetating in juvenile halls and in youth authorities. More and more prisons are being constructed to accommodate your generation when you grow to adulthood. The question is, can you become motivated enough to defy the expectations that many people have of you?

For those of you who are fortunate enough to regain your freedom, prepare an agenda to survive outside the walls of incarceration. Learn about computer technology, politics and the sciences.

On the other hand, if some of you are facing a lot of time, I suggest that you strive to educate and discipline your mind. If you have access to a library, read every relevant book that you can get your hands on. Educate yourselves about history, world religions, math, English, spirituality and your culture.

It’s time to flip the script. You or I can complain 24×7 about the problems of poverty, drugs, violence, racism and other injustices, but unless we choose to initiate a personal change, we will remain puppets of unjust conditions. Unless we change, we will be incapable of changing the circumstances around us.

In conclusion, there are two ways to view your incarceration: either your present situation will convince you to straighten up your life or it will be the beginning of a wasteful future behind bars. Or worse – you’ll end up on death row.


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