On July 30th, I hiked it on up to D.C. to support one of my friends from Elon University, Yasmine Arrington. Towards the end of her time at high school, she started a non-profit organization that provides scholarships for students with incarcerated parents. She herself has a father that was in and out of jail most of her life. Rather than let that hold her back, she took that ‘chip’ and used to help other students. She’s a real go-getter and was quite the force on campus! She just started a graduate program at Howard Divinity School.
She invited everyone in the area to the 4th Annual Ceremony and I was excited to go support her. I invited my friend Chineme and she joined me at the venue after she got off work. It was at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery. They had a pretty straight forward program, including a musical selection from Siera Toney, one of Yasmine’s childhood friends, and remarks from Madeleine Salon who is part of a presidential Initiative for Children of Incarcerated Parents. Salon’s updates were really interesting and I was particularly impressed by how they are trying to train law enforcement on how to properly arrest people who have children in their household.
The keynote speaker was Kemba Smith Pradia who wrote the book Poster Child: The Kemba Smith Story. She herself was incarcerated while she was attending college and had her son towards the beginning of her sentence. She was dating a drug dealer, and turned herself in 7 months pregnant and they still put her in jail. The NAACP and others made her case public and she was released after serving 6 years of her 24.5 years sentence. She missed the first 6 years of her son’s life because of being incarcerated, so she was really sympathetic to the cause of ScholarChips. It was truly powerful to hear her speak.
After that, the awards were given to the students. Three of them won $1,500 in scholarships and three others won $500 for books and such. They also had the previous scholarship winners stand up and talk about where they go and what they study. It was truly powerful. We ate, mingled, took pictures and called it a night. I was sitting with two other Elon students, who, along with Chineme and I, stuck around til the very end. We helped Kembra move her books to her car and then went our separate ways.
Over all, the event was really interesting and uplifting and I’m really glad I went. Enjoy the pictures:
What were some memorable parts of your summer? Any events that really got you thinking? Or warmed your heart?