Saturday’s journey into Rikers Island prison started off with a major hurdle. Upon registering at the trailer to get access to volunteer for the program, we discovered that of the (6) six people there with us were not on their list. After making a few phone calls we were granted access to the prison where we had to go through another security check point. Once inside the checkpoint ready to go through metal detectors, we discovered a red light alarm. This is an alarm issued whenever there is a major problem at the prison and no one is granted access nor allowed to leave the prison until the source of the alarm is resolved.
Going through two of these alarms, we were finally able to enter the facility to perform for 18 year old incarcerated youth. We were very well received by these young men, who responded very positively to our performances and message. Thank yous to Charles “Kais son” Coleman, Henry “distinquish” Gray, Jhrelle “Relle the poet” Benn, Quindell “Quev” Evans, Cindy “Blackangel” Peralta. Without these wonderful artists who did not give up despite all that was going on in the prison that day, these youth would not have experienced the unconditional love and empowerment these poets brought to them. These poets were so well received Saturday, that four of the youth participated in the spoken word poetry program performing a spoken word piece. We are going back in two weeks to continue the process of healing. Pictured from left to right: Relle the poet, Distinquish, Curtis, Kai’son,Cindy, and Quindell. All in all it was a wonderful experience for the youth , the poets and the correction officers present.