The title is brokenness, but I’m still winning the war. I read the book, Bryan Stevenson’s book, Just Mercy. And the story seems very similar to mine. I would like to quote you from his book: “My many years of struggling against inequality, abuse of power, poverty, oppression, injustice, had finally revealed something to me about myself. Being close to suffering, death, and the cruel and unusual punishment inside the prison system did not just illuminate the brokenness of others in a moment of anguish and heartbreak. It also exposed my own brokenness. You can not effectively fight abuse of power, poverty, inequality, illness, oppression or injustice and not be broken by it. We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone, and have been hurt. We all shared the conditions of brokenness. Even if our brokenness is not equivalent, we can embrace our humanism, which means embracing our broken nature and the compassion that remains. Or we can deny our brokenness our compassion, and as a result, deny our own humanity.”
I definitely wanted mercy for the residents of Benton Harbor, Michigan. I would have done anything to create justice for my fellow brothers and sisters: black, white, brown, red, yellow, and all others. I cannot pretend that the people’s struggle was disconnected from my own. We have choices. We all owe the people who have fought inequality and oppression. And for justice, I have been threatened, terrorized, wrongly accused, wrongly condemned, but I never gave up. I survived the humiliation of three trials, several different charges against me. I survived two guilty verdicts and several wrongful condemnations by the state of Michigan. While I did not survive without injury or trauma. I still came out with my dignity.
I told people that I had overcome, what fear, ignorance, and bigotry, and oppression had done to me. I stood strong in the face of injustice. It’s made the rest of us a little safer, slightly more protected from the abuse of power, oppression and the false accusation that almost killed me. I suggest to my friends and my family and that my strength, my resistance, my perseverance was a victory worth celebrating, an occasion to be remembered. The establishment tortured me, but I’m still standing. The establishment lied on me and I’m still standing. The establishment sent me to prison with absolutely no evidence to be convicted. But I am still standing. The establishment gave me 30 months in prison and I’m still standing, which would be [inaudible] for a 66 year old man, but I’m still standing. The all white jury was motivated by something other than the truth, but I’m still standing. Let’s make this struggle a victory for all of us who are in the struggle against the oppressor and the corrupt criminal justice system in every town and every city in America. Thank you very, very much.
I got good news for everybody. On June the 13th, I will be released from prison and it’s a celebration for all. And I want to thank, I really want to thank everybody out at Prison Radio and everybody else, for all the support that they gave me also. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.