My name is Jy’Aire Smith-Pennick, and I’m currently being housed in SCI Chester.
This is a tribute speech to Tina Marie Crawford. Today I would like to share a story about a remarkable woman by the name of Tina Marie Crawford. This is a woman of many virtues, attributes such as compassion, strength, love, and vulnerability. But more importantly, this is a woman of forgiveness. You see, Tina experienced the pain that only a mother who truly understands. However, she didn’t allow this pain to make her bitter nor hateful. Instead, she saw understanding and reconciliation, and that to me is admirable.
In 2014, a man by the name of Ira Hopkins was sitting in front of his apartment with a group of friends having drinks. It was during this time that a group of young men approached him, guns in hand, demanding cash. Shortly thereafter, the group of young men led off a barrage of bullets, killing Ira and wounding another. Ira had been celebrating his 35th birthday. He was Tina’s only child. It didn’t take long for the coppers to be arrested and charged. Tina was obviously distraught, yet slightly relieved to know that her son’s killers will finally be brought to justice.
In 2017, Tina got to have the opportunity to face one of the young men involved in her son’s murder. She was taken aback by what she saw. He didn’t look like the monster she had envisioned. Rather, he looked like a boy who was lost. A boy who made a poor decision. A boy in need of love. Prior to the young men being sentenced, he looked Tina directly in her eyes and apologized sincerely, to which Tina simply replied, “I forgive you.”
The two have since developed the relationship that [inaudible]. Tina continues to keep track of his progress, and he continues to have a positive impact on everyone he encounters. I chose to share this story with you today because in the world, we see so much anger, hate, and division amongst us over things that pales in comparison to Tina’s situation.
I pay tribute to Tina because she is the epitome of forgiveness. Not only does she forgive this young man, she embraced him as a son. I know this to be true, because I am the young man that Tina embraced. I’m the recipient of Tina’s virtuous attributes. She was courageous enough to embrace me in spite of those who disagree. Compassionate enough to extend compassion. Strong enough to continue to smile. Loving enough to care. Vulnerable enough to cry. Yet forgiving enough to want a bright future for the very man that snatched the future from her own son. If that’s not the virtuous tribute, I don’t know what it is.
You know, when I did this speech today, I was aware that I will be opening myself up to scrutiny, judgment, and criticism. And that’s okay. I deserve it. But as I do so, I ask that you think of Tina. She didn’t forget what I did. How could she? I’m sure she’ll never forget. But somehow, she had the capacity to see me for more than my worst decision. She forgave me. Which leads me to wonder. Could you?
These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.