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How Reading & Writing Are Helping Keep Former Juvenile Offenders Out Of Jail

Posted On: March 01, 2015

Reading and writing is not just a necessity for education, but also needed as a tool for survival. For example: if somebody does not know how to read and write, a bottle with a warning label on it stating that its poisonous, could be detrimental to them. So, reading and writing is a way of life. Reading and writing has long served a purpose of helping, inspiring and motivating others through literature.

A non-profit organization called the Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop took it to another level, when they founded the workshop to help inmates in jail and prison.

The workshop started when one of the founders who was a journalist at the time, started exchanging letters from a man on death row. The letters Kelli Taylor wrote to the inmate helped him deal with being on death row and gave him a whole new perspective about his sentence. Seeing the effectiveness of the letters, Taylor was inspired and wanted to help other inmates who were serving time behind bars, and recruited Tara Libert and started the the non-profit workshop.

The two of them came up with a mission statement of making an impact, to help inmates and juvenile offenders change their lives around and to redeem their souls through poetry, the art of literature and; writing from their hearts.

The members of the workshop meet every week to discuss and speak on various topics about books that they've read, contemporary literature, current events through publishing and memoirs from inmates who became writers; such as Nathan McCall, who is the author for the book, Makes Me Wanna Holler.

The website for the Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop shares blog posts of success stories from inmates who were and currently involved with their programs. When the inmates graduate, the workshop awards them with an alumni certificate upon their release from jail or prison, From there, the workshop continues to assist the inmates with job placement and also, registration for college, online courses and other career building classes.

In an article published by The Washington Post, they interviewed three former inmates who utilize the services which Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop provides. The inmates are juveniles who met while they were all behind bars, they are as follow: Robert Barksdale, Phil Mosby, and Juan Peterson. All three of them are friends who support and motivate one another, to not participate in any crimes, drugs ;and to remain focus, by being positive in order to change their lives.

Barksdale, Mosby and Peterson have written poetry and short stories about their experiences in jail. And also, have written artistic poetry, imaginative literature and more.

Juan Peterson who is aiming to become a lawyer wrote the poem below, about finding his light and being renewed.

Check out the poem below.

No more heartaching sins

from the dark place within

thinking of back then it’s too complicated to comprehend

I’m awestruck from the view

It’s like I’m seeing two

My mind is displaying a brighter hue

It feels good to be brand new

During their interview, Robert Barksdale expressed to The Washinton Post how the Free Minds Book Club & Workshop helped him find his passion for writing.

"Writing opened up a passion in me," Barksdale said "That’s what you need to get through. Phil and Juan know; they were on the block with me -- I began to read books, I wrote poetry, got my vocational certificate."

Phil Mosby stated how the workshop helped him attain his freedom and not just freedom from jail, but himself. 

"I want to understand freedom … I want to be able to have a job that can make a decent living," Mosby told The Washington Post. 

Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop continues to extend their services to inmates in Washington D.C. and plan to expand their organization from state to state.




Nike Celebrates Cleveland Cavaliers' Win With the Release of 'Worth The Wait'

Posted On: June 20, 2016

In an effort to congratulate the Cleveland Cavaliers for making history last night (June 19th), Nike release a celebratory video honoring their graceful win. This is the Cavs first championship in the last 50 years, so last night was something beyond special for the people of Cleveland. 

The Nike video is called "Worth The Wait" and it takes viewers into the emotional journey of Cleveland's outlook and apprehension for the 2016 NBA Finals. Keeping their hope alive in patience, to believe in what may have seemed impossible to others, the fans of Cleveland knew in their hearts of its possibility. 

Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, NBA's MVP LeBron James and more are featured in the video below. 

Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 NBA Champions


Roc Nation and Kevin Durant Join President Obama's Education Intiative, The Roc to Donate 30,000 Backpacks

Posted On: June 14, 2016

Roc Nation formed an allegiance and parternership with STATE Bags which is a a buy one, give one backpack brand benefit program from Brooklyn to participate in President Barack Obama's Education Intiative. Roc Nation also partnered up with My Brother's Keeper Alliance which provides resources to improve the social narratives for Black boys and young Black men. 

Combining these two partnerships, Roc Nation is set to donate 30,000 backpacks as past of the The White House and the U.S. Department of Education's MBK Success Mentors Initiative, according to published documents. 

Kevin Durant was in attendance at the White House along with STATE Bags' Co-Founder, Scot Tatelman for a My Brother's Keeper Success Mentor initiative gathering (Summer of State), to raise awareness about the importance of mentorship, and how it guides youth in both their school and home life.  Durant issued a call of action for community leaders and mentors to ensure that the youth are attending school and partcipating in their studies.

STATE Bags and Roc Nation will continue with an ongoing partnership to get athletes like Kevin Durant invloved and other artists involved, in taking part of raising awareness about the importance of young people's attendance in school. Roc Nation and STATE bags will host signature bag drop rallies across the nation in six select cities such as: DallasLos AngelesMiamiNew York CityPhiladelphia, and Seattle.

Jacqueline Tatelman who is the STATE Co-Founder/Creative Director, made a statement about the purpose and goal of their partnership with Roc Nation. 

"This partnership and initiative with Roc Nation not only provides a tremendous platform to equip thousands of students across the U.S. with the proper tools for success, but will go beyond simply a material donation through our motivational bag drop donation events in select cities. It's an absolute dream come true for us, and exactly why we started the company!"

And the intiative of the bag drops to motivate children to conquer the odds against them. Also, to be role models that are shaping a better tomorrow for them. 

"Our approach at bag drop events is to simply ignite a fire within these children, motivating them to beat the odds often stacked against them. The inspirational team of STATE PackMen/Women - child development specialists that have successfully risen from at-risk neighborhoods themselves - serve as role model figures to the children served. Layering on idolized artists and athletes from Roc Nation? Just incredible!"



Harvard Medical School Students Take a Stand Against Police Brutality and Injustice

Posted On: December 11, 2014

Medical student from Havard wore black hoodies to honor the lives of Trayvon Martin and also joined in solidarity to take a stand against police brutality, and injustice.

Pictured below, the student hold a powerful quote to make a strong statement.


Motivation 101: Kendrick Lamar - 'Hard Work'

Posted On: December 28, 2015

In a new video titled, 'Hard Work' to promote and raise awareness about mentorship, Kendrick Lamar displays role modeling and; even fatherhood to an impressionable young boy.

The footage opens up with K-Dot at a basketball court teaching the plays and discipline on the blacktop to the young boy, as far as the game of not just sports but the application of ambition, determination and; hard work to win in life. The visuals demonstrated the fruits of labor in Kendrick's success of recognition, the appreciation of creativity and his music from fans. Also, being bless with kindness and love following him everywhere he goes as a reciprocation of Kendrick sharing his gifts and talents with the world. The young boy in the video is absorbing all of it like a sponge, in order to stay afloat and anchored in life.

Congratulation to Kendrick Lamar on his hard work and the success of his album, "To Pimp A Butterfly."


Boss Don Billionaire, Robert F. Smith Pledges $50 Million to Cornell Engineering School

Posted On: February 09, 2016

When it comes to making moves like a don, Robert F. Smith pedals like a brinks truck in financial affairs and business investments. Smith made history in 2015 when he became the wealthiest Black men in America with $2.5 billion in assets and joined the list of other Black billionaires across the world, with Aliko Dangote being the kings of all kings in assets of $15.7 billion.

Robert F. Smith begin his billionaire journey when he made an investment towards his education and acquired knowledge in computer science. Confidence being a key for him, led to Smith's ability to open doors of resources and network in founding his own corporation when Smith went into capital investments, and became the CEO and chairman of Vista Equity Partners. Smith's company manage to generate $14 billion in cumulative assets of capital investments and is one of the most successful investment corporations in the world.

In addition to all of his success, Robert F. Smith is gracious in being a philanthropist and recently pledged $50 million to Cornell University’s School Of Engineering. A school that smith attended, earned a degree in chemical engineering in 1985 and is an alma mater. Reciprocating Smith's philanthropic funding, the school is honoring him by changing their name to Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell. 

During a press conference, Lance Collins who is the Joseph Silbert Dean of Cornell Engineering made the following statements in expressing gratitude for Smith's pledge.

"Robert’s generosity will not only elevate our School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, but it will ensure it becomes more accessible than ever."

"I believe an affordable educational path from engineering in Ithaca to Cornell Tech in New York City, for those who wouldn’t otherwise be offered such an opportunity, will produce some of the sharpest minds in engineering and technology. I’m thankful Robert shares this vision and is making it a reality."

Robert F. Smith's pledge will also fund the Robert Frederick Smith Tech Scholars Program and foster financial aid for mostly Black students to further their education.


Rick Ross Blesses Miami for The Holidays

Posted On: December 15, 2014

Maybach Music Group's boss, Rick Ross did some good deeds over the weekend and blessed the people of Miami by spreading love the MMG way. 

Rick Ross collaborated with Miami's 103.5, 'The Beat,' and held a charitable, giving event in Miami.

The event consisted of Rick Ross giving away free meals sponsored by 'Wingstop,' Christmas dinners, 'Reebok' sneakers, cash giveaways, shopping sprees to certain stores in Miami, free hair cuts and; just overall love to the people of Miami.

The event was held outside, Rick Ross provided inflatable bouncers and more for the children. It was an MMG Christmas indeed! was there to capture all the heart warming moments.


Kid Cudi Delivers Empowering Speech In a TED Talk to His Former High School

Posted On: December 28, 2015

Kid Cudi recently visited his former high school in Ohio and participated in a TED Talk speech to inspire the present students at Shaker Heights.

Cudi took to the stage and began his speech reflecting on the last time he was at the high school and how much he matured not just in age but also, his perspectives on things.

Kid Cudi expressed what made him the man that he is today, the diversity in his community growing up and even observing/witnessing it today. How his mother has always been his number one fan, evolving out of his shell in conquering who he is and making his mark in this world. Cudi kept it honest about not givng his all into his academics while he was in high school but displayed strength by admitting it and knowing he still has a lot to learn. By acknowledging this, Cudi is basically letting the youth know to make education/academics their priority, regardless what they are naturally great at and what their passion are. Cudi also admitted how he didn't get a chance to make his mark in the world academically but thank God for music, he was able to turn up the volume and elevate himself in his goals and dreams. Although, the music thing was going into unknown territory but it gave him the freedom to believe in himself against all odds because unlike passing a test where he was not confident in; music gave him the leverage and platform to spread his wings and soar.

"We are all the commanders of our own destinty."

Cudi made the above statement and quote as one piece of advice he would give to people and also, for them to pay it forward. He elaborated the importance of surrounding one's self with people who are smarter and more intelligent than us, who are ambitious and people we can learn from, grow with and; able to provide information to execute goals, dreams and etc. Kid Cudi seemed to have some regrets and being on that stage gave him a way to vent, release and; make peace with his mistakes in life. And again, it exhibits the strength of a leader because when we learn from other people's mistakes, it teaches, guides and; prevents us from making the same mistakes as well.

He ended his speech with these inspirational and powerful words:

"I just want you to know that life will throw you a sh*t ton of curveballs. It’s scary. But if you believe, man. If you believe, and if you want it, and if you want to work hard enough for it, it can be so. Because there’s no difference from me and you. I just really wanted this sh*t. I wanted it bad, and I didn’t want to be a failure. And nobody’s a failure in this room, don’t ever think that. We can all win."

There's more, plug to the video and hopefully you'll learn something new or discover gems of wisdom to shine brighter! 

Hi_ I'm Scott _ Scott Mescudi _ TEDxSHHS from illSwanson on Vimeo.

Footage Source: illSwanson



The NBA Launches Advertising Campaign Against Gun Violence

Posted On: December 30, 2015

Due to the high number of gun violence across the nation and mass shootings, the National Basketball Association known as the NBA has teamed up with advocates against gun violence to launch an advertising campaign centered around it.

The first commercial aired on December 25th during one of their games and starred Stephen Curry and Chris Paul.

During the ad, Curry detailed the effect of violence caused by guns, Chris reflects on what his parents used to say about guns and the lack of safety because of it.

The NBA will continue to utilized its athletes in a series of commercials that will air throughout the year in 2016 and their brand to raise awareness about gun control. Former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg is part of the campaign with behind the scenes effort to aide the NBA's collaboration with Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization founded by Bloomberg. But the person who brought this partnership together was Spike Lee who is a member of Everytown for Gun Safety.

Back in November, Spike Lee pitched the idea to ESPN's president John Skipper who was able to pull some strings and propositioned the NBA's commissioner, Adam Silver to manifest Lee's idea. Spike continues to play a role of hitting the pavement by linking up with protest organizers to participate. Mr. Bloomberg plays his part when it comes to politics and debates against the National Rifle Association and Congress to revise policies about background checks being conducted in any sales/purchase of guns, the banning of gun sales to former convicts of gun violence and domestic abuse; and penalties for gun trafficking.

Everytown for Gun Safety funded the production of the commercial which is directed by Spike Lee and a variety of players from the NBA lend their voice about gun violence and the effect of it. The ad was broadcasted by ABC and also features families and survivors who have been affected by gun violence.


Vince Staples Invest in a Summer Program from His Hometown, Sponsored by the YMCA

Posted On: June 17, 2016

Vince Staples recently made an investment into the future of tomorrow. Vince announced a summer program called Youth Institute which is sponsored by the YMCA, during a press conference. Assisting him with kicking off the project is Ninth District Councilman, Rex Richardson, who will be a part of the intiative to facilitate Youth Institute into Long Beach, California. 

The Youth Institute summer program will consist of various curriculum such as: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) training, creative arts studies in music and film production, product development, graphic designs and 3D printing. The program will also work with its youth in confidence building and their social skills, to help them frame a solid foundation within themselves towards achieving their goals and dreams. 

Youth Institute will be held at Hamilton Middle School, providing resources to eighth and ninth graders. Twenty students will be chosen to participate in the program. Long Beach Unified board member, Megan Kerr stated the importance of supporting Long Beach's youth and its leaders unifying to make a difference in their lives. 

"It’s important that we work together to support and educate our young people on being good citizens, as well as providing a safe space for them to thrive,"

The first expense of the program will be for $10,000 from the North Long Beach Education Fund, which was founded by Rex Richardson and Kerr. Vince Staples expressed how the Youth Institute program is designed to create environments for young people to succeed.

For more info, click on the following link: Youth Institute or call 562-570-6137 and log on to


Article Reference: Press Telegram 



Noisey Presents: Bompton feat. Kendrick Lamar - Part 2, 3, and 4

Posted On: February 22, 2016

In the continued Bompton docuseries in association with Viceland, Noisey presents part 2, 3, and 4 of 'Growing Up With Kendrick Lamar.' 

In part two of Bompton, Kendrick talks about breaking barriers for the next generations of leaders, innovators, musicians and etc. coming out of Compton. Zack sits down with Lil L and his grandmother for dinner and gets a taste of gumbo. (Lil L's grandma got some style: hair, accessories, the belt, you go granny!) After all of them said their grace, Lil L's grandma reflected on the 1965 Watts Riots, the casualties, how she endured and survived through her faith in God. Zack and the cameras follow L to the studio which most of Compton is consisted of as way for people to escape its poverty, violence, issues in economics, education and etc. Music is a resource as well as therapeutic to them (also on a wider scale, as a whole). 

The third installment of Noisey's docuseries opens up with Zack doing donuts in an empty parking lot. Viewers meet an enterprising 14 year old called Rjzzle Westbred who managed to launch and air his own digital/internet radio show with his mother called, "The Prince of L.A.." The radio show interviews aspiring hip hop artists from Compton, during the taping, Snoop Dogg called in and dropped some love. One of the rappers Special takes the camera into his side hustle, also Hitta J3's struggle with gang bangin' and his mother's strength of trying to keep him alive. Unfortunately, after Noisey's filming with Hitta J3, he got locked up and remains at a correctional facility.

In part 4, Kendrick Lamar shares an experience he had with an elderly lady who introduced him to God and gave him a different outlook about his neighborhood and community. Kendrick discovered the importance of having morals within the heart. Pastor Michael Fisher who ministers at Greater Zion Church Family sat with Zack to talk about the affects of violence in Compton and how it palgues the community because nobody is immune from it. He shared a memory of one of his protege, a youth pastor being a victim of it. He spoke about people hanging on to their hopes for their own survival as well as families, friends and etc. Next, viewers are met with G Weed who illustrated the different kind of gangs, the warfare on the street and protecting himself ever since he was a teenager. Zack hung out with G Weed and his homies (Zack looked bent, like he was on some lean), their activities, how they escape their woes and also, shared stories of enduring Compton.