A special evening to announce the first recipient of the Free Minds Congressman John Lewis Fellowship
Please join us for a special celebration of poetry and storytelling to announce the first recipient of the Free Minds Congressman John Lewis Fellowship. This is a new opportunity for formerly incarcerated Free Minds members to use their poetry and personal journeys of change to connect with middle and high school students and community members to stop the violence.
Named in honor of Congressman John Lewis, one of the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, this fellowship will be a year-long position for a Free Minds member returning from jail or prison. The fellowship will promote nonviolence through our poetry-based community outreach program, On the Same Page: Free Minds Poetry in the Classroom and Community.
We'll be joined by renowned poet, educator, Harvard doctoral candidate, and author of Counting Descent, Clint Smith.
He was named in both Forbes 30 Under 30 list and Ebony Magazine's Power 100 list and his two TED Talks, The Danger of Silence (2014) and How to Raise a Black Son in America (2015), have over 1 million views.
His poetry inspires thousands. He served as a Teach for America fellow in Prince George's County in 2011-2013. He is a 2014 National Poetry Slam champion and winner of the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
James Allen, Free Minds Poet Ambassador and inaugural Congressman John Lewis Fellow, will also share his passion for the life-saving power of poetry and his work with DC area youth to stop violence. Previously incarcerated for five years, he is now dedicated to giving back to the community as a full-time Poet Ambassador. As the current Congressman John Lewis Fellow for 2018, James promotes healing and nonviolence at local schools and other community spaces through storytelling, creative expression, and lived experiences. The Congressman John Lewis Fellow will study nonviolence techniques, mentor other Free Minds Poet Ambassadors, and offer a unique way to engage with the issues of youth violence and incarceration and to find healing and action through the powerful medium of creative writing.
"[Free Minds] is a safe space where we all talk and write. We forget about all of the bad things happening in the neighborhood and write about positive stuff." - Isaac, DCPS 8th grade participant in On the Same Page violence prevention project
Your support will help us make this fellowship a permanent part of our program, and an ongoing opportunity for other Free Minds members returning from prison in 2019.
The event will include hors d'oeuvres, wine, and beer, free of charge.
Although Congressman Lewis cannot be in attendance at this evening, he sends his best wishes for the fellowship.