Free Minds Goes to Philadelphia

In October, the Free Minds team (staff and Poet Ambassadors Terrell, Roderick, and Nokomis) hit the road to participate in a conference in Philadelphia, PA, and share their poetry and personal stories with Philadelphia students.Read More

Baltimore Author D. Watkins Speaks to DC Jail Book Club

On a Thursday afternoon at the DC Jail, a group of men arranged chairs in a circle on the floor of the unit, surrounded on all sides by cell doors. They gathered in the circle to eagerly welcome their guest, author D. Watkins (The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir, The Beast Side: Living and Dying While Black in America). The young men had been reading and discussing Watkins’s memoir, The Cook Up, in preparation for this visit. Read More

Authors Coe Booth and Patricia McCormick Share Their Stories at the DC Jail

By Mbachur Mbenga

This spring, teenagers in our Book Club at the DC Jail had the incredible opportunity to learn from two talented and generous authors, Patricia McCormick and Coe Booth.

D.C. native and two-time National Book Award finalist Patricia McCormick visited the jail to discuss her young adult novel Sold. This was followed by Coe Booth, a long-time favorite of the Book Club, who traveled from New York to talk to the teenagers about her novel Bronxwood. DC Councilmember David Grosso (Chair of the Committee on Education) also attended the session with Bronxwood author Coe Booth. Read More

Free Minds Wins Renewal Award

In 2017, Free Minds was honored to receive the Renewal Award for Ingenuity from the Atlantic and Allstate. Free Minds was one of five winners selected from approximately 500 organizations across the country. Free Minds attended the Renewal Summit in Washington, DC, to receive the award. Poet Ambassador Nick spoke at the Renewal Summit. After the event, he said, “I want to thank the Atlantic and Allstate for allowing me to share my story, because I know it will help bring about a change. I hope people will treat someone from my experience with more dignity. That alone will give people from my background hope.” Read More

Former Child Soldier Emmanuel Jal Visits Free Minds Reentry Book Club

“When you are in a poor environment, you go into survival mode. Like me, you’ve all been to hell. But you came back!”

Emmanuel Jal, a former child soldier of the Sudanese civil war and now an internationally celebrated rapper and peace activist, stood before 14 members of Free Minds’ Reentry Book Club. The men, ages 18-56 had all returned to the community after serving time in federal prison. For the previous two weeks, they had read and discussed Jal’s memoir, War Child. Now they were getting the opportunity to meet Jal in person, and learn firsthand from the author, rapper, and activist how he transformed his own life after experiencing horrific trauma as a child. Read More