Antwan’s love of books didn’t stop once he left the juvenile block. He remembers how, in lockdown for 11 months in federal prison, books helped him stay calm and focused.
Antwan first got involved with Free Minds in 2007 when he was incarcerated at 16. He soon became an active participant in the weekly Book Club. “We used to talk with Kelli and Tara about uplifting ourselves and doing more motivating and empowering things for ourselves,” he says. He remembers how the books helped him to imagine other people’s life stories and to learn “how to make better moves in life.”
His favorite book is Snow by Kenji Jasper. “Everybody on the juvenile block at the time, that was their favorite book. Everybody took turns at night reading the book page by page.” But Antwan’s love of books didn’t stop once he left the juvenile block. He remembers how, in lockdown for 11 months in federal prison, books helped him stay calm and focused. “Books really played a good part in my life.” He was also an avid writer, exchanging frequent letters.
When asked about the impact Free Minds has had on his life, Antwan says, “They helped me think of better decisions to make and different ways to go about different things.” Now, Antwan is determined to give back to the Free Minds community. He came home in 2012 and found himself facing rough times with many different paths to take, but he is now the Free Minds Reentry Coach. His favorite aspect of the job is keeping in contact with friends who are still incarcerated and being a part of the movement, “the whole mission of helping the multitude.”
Executive Director Tara Libert recalls how she has always been impressed by his independence and maturity both on the block and in the office.
As Reentry Coach, Antwan focuses on reaching out to other Free Minds members in the community and coordinating various events, including job fairs, site visits, and poetry readings. He also leads the Apprenticeship Program, working directly with recently released members in the office. He enjoys helping Reentry members “to better resources such as job programs or whatever they need … It’s a nice present to help everybody else out.”
For the future, Antwan wants “a good salary, my own stable home, and to just enjoy life.” For Free Minds members who are still incarcerated, he says that the most important things are to stay strong and motivated, and to take advantage of all positive opportunities. “Shoot for the moon,” he says. “If you miss you still gonna land among the stars.”