Roach Brown on the Radio and in the Media
||Inner voice unveils secret of Merry Christmas - Washington Times
||Remembering Christopher Marion BarryBarry was found unconscious and unresponsive. He was taken to George Washington University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a couple hours later, the report said.
Cora Masters Barry, wife of the former mayor, issued a statement on Sunday.
"Christopher's sudden death has been devastating news to me. My heart is broken. I am in shock. The news of his death is beyond comprehension.
"I would like to thank everyone for their concern and support. I would also like to send my condolences to Mrs. Polly Lee Harris, Christopher's grandmother, for the loss of her only grandchild.
"Please understand that I will not be making any further statements at this time."
Community leaders and friends of Barry gathered to remember him Sunday night in Southeast.
Some said despite Barry's personal struggles, he was always fighting for his community.
"Through him I saw strength, I saw vulnerability. I saw the type of heart that creates a community," one man said at the vigil.
Marion Barry was mayor of Washington, D.C., from 1979 to 1991 and 1995 to 1999. He also served on the Council of the District of Columbia for three terms, one as an at-large member and two serving Ward 8.
His prominence as mayor and a civil rights leader changed after he was videotaped and arrested by the FBI on crack cocaine charges in 1990.
The former mayor always hoped his son would follow in his political footsteps, but Sherwood said Christopher Barry never seemed to warm up to the public spotlight like his father. Christopher Barry's bid for a Ward 8 seat, running as Marion C. Barry, fell short in 2015, coming in sixth place. Christopher Barry also had his share of problems with the law, starting in 2005 with a misdemeanor assault charge for resisting arrest. He also faced drug-related charges in 2011, 2013 and 2014.
Effi Barry died of leukemia in 2007. Cora Masters Barry, widow of Marion Barry, confirmed to Sherwood that Christopher Barry died.
A News4 I-Team investigation found that synthetic drug overdoses, including overdoses on K-2, accounted for 10-times more EMS calls than heart attacks in D.C.
||Roach being Interviewed by Rebecca VallasRoach Brown sat with Rebecca Vallas for this interview depicting his life story, his career in the media, his theatrical troupe, The Inner Voices and his radio show, Crossroads. This is a very powerful interview and shows what a gigantic heart Roach has, especially when it comes to children and the returning citizen community. Roach is certainly a force to reckon with.
||Metropolitan AME Church - Good FridayPublished on Apr 4, 2013
Washington Informer recap of the Good Friday Silent March last Friday held by the Metropolitan AME Church in Washington DC.
||Roach Brown and Rock NewmanRoach Brown on the Rock Newman Show aired on October 12, 2013. The show was called, "The Many Lives of Rhozier "Roach" Brown".
||Roach Brown Celebrating 55 Years of Service with the Ali'sBen's Chili Bowl celebrated 55-years of service on Thursday, August 22, 2013. Along with Roach, Bill Cosby joined Mayor Vincent Gray and the Ali family to celebrate the U Street institution.
||Roach's Cameo on DC CommercialThis is a cameo of Roach Brown as one of DC's finest community leaders.
||Kodie Brown, shot in face by father, receives free plastic surgeryKodie Brown, nickname Koko, who just turned three years old. She was with her grandfather, Derrick Ferguson, a D.C. Police officer, and they had just returned from Los Angeles along with grandmother Roshann Ferguson, where on March 28, Kodie underwent the first of a series of surgeries from the Face Forward Clinic – free of charge.
||Roach Brown VSC HonoreeRoach Brown was honored at the Voices for a Second Chance formerly Visitor's Service Center with the Billy L. Chandler Community Hero Award on May 29, 2014.
||Highlights of Ex-Prisoner Arts Protest, Washington Harbour, Georgetown, Washington, DCThe art on this page was created by imprisoned artists and is sold as low-cost special edition prints online or at our many prison art sales locations. Also, our Prison Art Consignment program is available to organizations and businesses across America. Please visit www.SafeStreetsArts.org
"The Safe Streets Arts Foundation, incorporating the Prisons Foundation and the Victims Foundation, is proud to publish prisoner-written books and to sponsor the annual From-Prison-to-The-Stage Show at the Kennedy Center."
The Safe Streets Arts Foundation organized a protest in Georgetown on Monday, Aug 4 at 3000 K St. NW, Washington, DC in front of the luxury apartment building that is harassing Ex-Prisoner Artists who are legally disseminating information and selling art. Here are the highlights of the protest.
||Roach in the studio giving his views on domestic violenceRoach Brown was very adamant about his position on domestic violence.
||Kodie Brown honored at 5th Annual Free Christmas DinnerTwo-year-old Kodie Brown was honored at the 5th Annual Free Christmas Day Dinner at Torries @ Wilson’s Restaurant in Northwest Washington, DC Wednesday. The young victim of domestic violence survived a shooting, in which her mother was killed by her father, according to Roach Brown, founder of Inner Voices, Inc., which organized the dinner. Brown said Kodie’s grandparents are caring for her.The toddler was on hand for the dinner, which was served to the homeless, veterans, senior citizens, the formerly incarcerated and anyone who needed a meal on Christmas Day. More than 500 people were served, according to Mertine Moore Brown, Roach’s wife, of MELM People Relations.She says Kodie’s grandparents, Officer Derrick Ferguson and his wife Roshann, attended the event, as well. “The restaurant’s owner, John Goodwin, has been feeding people on Christmas Day for 17 years,” Moore Brown said.
The Inner Voices, Inc. is a member of the United Black Fund. For more information about upcoming programs or to find out about next year’s dinner, call (202) 580-7365.Torries @ Wilson’s Restaurant is located at 7th & V Streets, NW, across from Howard University Hospital. Each year, the dinner is broadcast live on WPFW-FM 89.3.
||Roach Brown at the Kennedy CenterThis event was at the Kennedy Center and entailed Roach doing his one-man stand up show. It was hilarious and Roach highlighted the show with truths about himself and the time he spent in prison.
||Roach Brown and Perry Redd at the Kennedy CenterRoach and many others were invited to the White House to talk about their pardons and what it meant to them to be pardoned by the President of the United States of America
||JET Magazine - Ticker Tape USA On Apr 15, 1971, Roach Brown and the Inner Voices performed at the Senate Building and received high accolades from Senator Edward W. Brooks (D., Mass.)
||Jet Magazine - The New York BeatOn May 16, 1974, Richard Pryor opened up the Apollo on this night by introducing the Inner Voices, who had traveled from Washington, DC to New York.
||Jet Magazine - The Washington SceneThe Inner Voices were invited to see the play "Hair'. The who's who of Washington were in attendance.
WPGC Panel Celebrates Black History, Black Love (Watch)
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Former Prisoners Laud Delbert Jackson, Long Time Friend
12 Years that Changed Washington
Roach Speaking on Clemency
Roach Brown Speaks on His Pardon by President Gerald Ford
Merry Christmas!” proclaimed Rhozier “Roach” Brown, 71, as he stood in line to get into the White House. He wore a blue suit with gold buttons, a naval captain’s hat, and a white mustache. “Every day is Christmas on this side of the fence.”Brown, who was convicted of murder in 1965, applied to President Nixon for clemency several times and was denied. But President Ford accepted Brown’s petition on Christmas Day 1975 (after pardoning Nixon).
Clemency, Brown told me, was “like reincarnation”—”You go from the darkness to the light,” he said.
In his lifetime, he stressed, he had never seen the kind of attention in the general public to criminal justice reform and helping former inmates.
American Justice Reform Program Panel
AJRP RISE DEMONSTRATION CENTER
Jan. 15, 1973
The Law: Prison Playwright
"I was going insane in that room," says "Roach" Brown. A onetime street hustler convicted of murder, he was talking about his solitary confinement after a 1968 riot at the Lorton Reformatory near Washington, D.C. Brown lost track of time—first the date, then the day of the week, eventually even night and day. "I used to talk to myself and laugh and cry," he remembers. "I wanted someone to see me, to say they cared." Finally, one day, the sliding panel in his cell door clicked open, a hand reached in with two packs of cigarettes plus a ration of candy, and a guard's voice said, "Merry Christmas." Somehow, starting from the absurd incongruity of that gesture, Rhozier Theopelius Brown Jr. began his trip back to sanity. He scratched "Christmas in prison" in the dust under his bunk, and then he began expanding the phrase into a poem. Released from solitary after seven months, he found the poem growing into a play. He started scrounging materials for a stage set and recruiting prisoners as actors. He and 18 other inmates were finally allowed to put on the play. "Most guys came to ridicule us," says Brown. "If we had laid an egg, it would have meant a lot of embarrassment, because there's no place to hide in a prison."
The play was a success, and since then, "The Inner Voices," as Brown's theater group is now known, have made 463 trips outside the prison to perform various plays and participate in community discussions. Last week the Public Broadcasting Service network showed an hour-long program about one such encounter. It included excerpts from Brown's Christmas play; then, in a question period, members of the audience incredulously asked the actors about the reality of such scenes as the casual murder of a convict by three other prisoners. Roach Brown insists that his play about how various prisoners react to Christmas is all too accurate.
Indeed, after every trip outside, it has taken all his strength to readjust to prison. "Sometimes I think it's harder doing time this way than staying in Lorton all the time," says Brown. "Comin' back in, I move slow. Try to get the feel in the air. I take three times as long to put on my shoes, lace 'em up. I got to get the feel. If I can't, if I laugh or tell a joke 'cause I'm feeling good and haven't felt the vibes of the prison—if I can't get with the mood, the agony, the pain of the place, I could get killed, and it would be just another accident. That's prison."
But Brown and the other actors always go back. Brown himself has been out some 800 times. In addition to supervising The Inner Voices, he has taught drama courses to workers at the National Institute of Mental Health, reported on prison life before various groups of Senators and Congressmen.
Despite his self-rehabilitation, he must continue serving a term of 20 years to life for shooting an acquaintance whom he and two others were trying to rob. The murder happened in 1965, when Brown was 20, and according to regulations, he will not be eligible for parole until 1984. A petition for presidential clemency filed last month has thus far brought no response. But Brown did get special permission from Lorton authorities to stay out and help finish the PBS program. Then, as last week ended, he again disappeared into Lorton, lacing his shoes up slowly.
Find this article at:
Washington Times Article Freedom from the Shackles of Abuse
Freddi House offers freedom from the shackles of abuse
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Miss R has had a broken arm and a broken jaw, and both eyes blackened by beatings, one so badly that her socket had to be braced with a plastic cup.
She’s a survivor of domestic violence and now helps other women along an underground railroad, of sorts, that operates in the D.C. metro area.
In her modest office this week, Miss R sits across from a white board that lists various schedules of Freddi House
, a cluster of safe houses for abused mothers and single women.
She does not reveal clients’ names, and I do not ask.
In fact, their names and Miss R’s are inconsequential, as it is the services at Freddi House
that underscore the reason for this story as Congress
wrangles over funding to help get battered women situated so they no longer have to depend on their abusers.
provides more than a welcoming bed; it’s a first step toward leading women down a path of survival and self-sufficiency.
“We try to make them whole again,” said Miss R.
Receiving women involved in the criminal justice system, Freddi House
clients are given shelter, food, clothing, social and medical services.
Once there, the women get hygiene kits, are assigned furnished bedrooms and given a frank orientation. On the third day, they work with staff and caseworkers to develop individualized action plans that include job-seeking or education options as well as a list of in-house chores.
The clients also are handed a form that lays out Freddi House
rules — old-school rules of the order Grandma used to lay down.
Some of the rules are obvious — no weapons, drugs, alcohol, unsupervised children, unsafe or unclean habits, violent or abusive behavior — and some just make good doggone common sense — out by 8 a.m., in by 10 p.m., and “no visitors.”
The No. 1 Freddi House
rule: “This location is Not to be disclosed to the abuser. Violation will mean immediate eviction.”
“We tell them to read it at their leisure and they must sign,” said Miss R. “It’s for their own good.”
Some of the women balk at certain rules, like the one that says no food deliveries.
After all, who doesn’t like a slice of cheesy hot pizza now and again?
But delivery orders place clients, children and caretakers in jeopardy.
“Their violent partners might work [at the establishment], or frequent there, or see the victim at the door,” said Miss R.
The houses this writer visited were clean and orderly, with laundry rooms, community areas, Internet access and well-appointed kitchens and bathrooms.
One house had a master en suite for Mom and four children, while two safe houses had beautifully appointed brick walls.
All the houses had locked gates in the front and rear, and windows were secured as well.
A completely different house run by another organization was unappealing: The bedrooms were tiny and the unsecured and unguarded entryway left visitors nervous because anyone, including abusers or anyone else off the street, could enter unquestioned — making it an unsafe house, if you will.
— which began operating in January 2011 and also offers mental health and family counseling services, as well as free prescription delivery — aided more than 160 women and 90 children last year alone.
The average age of the women was 28, and the average age of the children (who are fed free, courtesy of a catering company) was 3.
The operator of Freddi House
, who asked to remain nameless, and Miss R said two other houses are ready to be occupied. One of them will include a novel component — a romper room where children and teens can read and study, or play games and watch TV.
“The other two houses mean we can give at least an additional 30 people a ticket out of violence,” said the operator, a native Washingtonian. “They are ready to go.”
Women who enter programs like Freddi House
are targeted for 30-day stays, and exceptions are made if, for example, more permanent housing won’t be available for another week or two.
“We’re one ticket out of the violence,” said Miss R.
Indeed, domestic violence is the third-leading cause of homelessness among families, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — and the fear of being homeless can keep victims of such violence in the grips of their abusers.
Scores of former clients have written to Freddi House
, thanking staff for helping them find a way forward.
“If I could stay longer I would,” wrote Miss Y. “However they’ve shown me the steps and provided the resources for me to maintain on my own.”
• Deborah Simmons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington Times Article "Ban the Box"
The Washington Times
By Deborah Simmons
Former D.C. felons seek to ‘Ban the Box’ on forms
Former D.C. felons are taking matters into their hands.
Some laws and policies are discriminating against them, and they are not going to lie down and take it anymore.
That was the message Thursday evening at Wilson
’s Restaurant in center city, where about 75 ex-offenders braved a thunderstorm to register to vote and plan how to effectively speak with one voice at the polls and in city hall.
These men and women comprise a substantial voting bloc in D.C. and feel empowered by their turnout in the presidential election of Barack Obama
. In D.C., an estimated 16,000 people are under the supervision of the federal Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency
), and with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics
having already purged more than 90,000 names off its voter rolls, former offenders aren’t taking any chances.
Their get-out-the-vote effort drew D.C. Councilman Jim Graham
, a Democrat who is trying to hold onto his seat; sports newsman Glenn Harris
; and boxing impresario Rock Newman
, whose white Rolls Royce drew in supporters —and the merely curious — alike.
“We want to stop the dependency,” said WPFW producer and host Rhozier “Roach” Brown
, one of the organizers of the campaign.
A primary goal is to “Ban the Box” — eliminate the box on housing, employment and social service forms that asks whether the applicant has a criminal conviction or criminal record.
Merely asking the question violates the U.S. Constitution and opens the door for discrimination, former offenders say.
They also say it hurts ex-felons and their families because checking the box means potential employers will automatically throw the application in the trash and, when it comes to housing, former felons can easily be denied the opportunity to reunite with their families.
Their agenda also includes:
* Increased funding for the D.C. Office of Ex-Offender Affairs. Currently, only salaries for employees are budgeted, Mr. Brown
*Building a facility in the city that would house soon-to-be-released prisoners so the transition from incarceration is smoother.
* Creating a D.C. ombudsman position to coordinate programs and policies with the federal Bureau of Prisons, the agency responsible for incarcerating and monitoring all D.C. felons.
A new phrase, said Mr. Brown
, has been coined in the District: “Suicide by prison.”
“Marking X on applications is the kiss of death,” he said.
Free Christmas Dinner for the Needy
December 23, 2012
For the fourth year in a row, a free Christmas
dinner will be served to the homeless, people who were incarcerated, military veterans and seniors, although everyone is welcome according to Inner Voices, Inc., which sponsors the event. It takes place on Christmas Day from noon to 4 p.m. at Torrie’s at Wilson’s at 700 V Street N.W. in the Shaw neighborhood of the District.
The dinner subscribes to the idea that every day is Christmas day, or at least should be. “Somebody cares, even on this special day,” said Roach Brown. “ We’re trying to spread the Christmas spirit every day, all year long.”
WPFW 89.3 Radio will broadcast live from the location at 7th & V Streets, across from Howard University Hospital.
Those interested in volunteering can call (202) 629-4910. To make a donation via credit card or Paypal, call (202) 460-4653.
For general information, call the restaurant at (202) 462-3700.
Examiner Article on Hope Village
Reginald Johnson, Examiner.com
Protesters march outside Hope Village, and vows to return
March 23, 2012
is a private, adult Community Corrections Center
also known as a community-based Residential Reentry Center (RRC), and since 1977, the halfway house has been lodged in southeast D.C. In 1982, Hope Village was the first private pilot Community Correctional Center program awarded by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).
On an almost weekly basis, Hope Village receives nearly 30 or more inmates
from various federal prisons. It's important to note inmates because in the District of Columbia, an inmate must complete 85 percent of their sentence before they are allowed to go to any halfway house. Once at the halfway house, they do the remaining 15 percent (there are minor or rare exceptions). And almost weekly, there are people leaving the halfway house either through successfully completing their time there, or by being removed for a violation.
On Thursday, protestors marched in front of the well-known halfway house to voice their discontent toward what they said were "demeaning and negative practices that seek only to send men back to prison."
, executive director of Returning Citizens United
said, "This halfway house has the largest number of sending people back to prison on technical violations, and that's a crime."
They chanted things like, "We'll be back! We'll be back! We'll be back!", "Hope Village is HOPEless!.", and "People united will never be defeated." And as they chanted D.C. residents who live across the street from the facility either looked from their windows or physically came outside and took part in the chants. Additionally, cars and Metrobuses that passed by, slowed down to hear and see what was going on (a few even honked in support of their cause).
was organized by Ellwood Yango Sawyer
, co-founder of the Coalition of Returning Citizens
. Sawyer gave a speech during the protest.
Also Rev. Motley
spoke. He said, "I'm standing here as a product of southeast D.C. I come from these streets here. I am also standing here as a returning citizen, and a military man. But also I am standing here because in 1984 I signed a letter supporting to bring Hope Village to this spot. I signed it in opposition to the community, because the community didn't want it. People were mad at me when I signed it. I said that I believed our brothers coming home have to have a place where they can gather, where they can get reacclimated to the community, where they can get the kind of support that's necessary to make a proper re-entry back into D.C."
He went on to say, "But now I'm here because Yango told me that we were having some issues - that we were having some problems with management's lack of understanding in what it means to support our brothers coming home and giving them the opportunity to engage the community...not in a punative way - not in a restrictive sense...but a way to engage the community in a wholesome and positive way. So I'm standing here saying that whatever is going on in Hope Village...that if it standing in the way of positive re-entry then we have to stop it. And we have to stop it, like Malcolm said, 'By any means necessary.' That's why you all are here, and I am here and others are here in spirit so Hope Village knows that we can't have their negative actions in out community. We just can't have it no more."
Motely added that he thanked people like Yango and the President of the Greater Washington Board of Trade
, whom he, Yango, and Rowe had an opportunity to address prior to coming to the protest.
"We had his undivided attention this morning," Motely said. "Debra and Yango both spoke about the issues related to re-entry, and the challenges. Charles Thornton
[director of the Mayor's Office of Returning Citizen Affairs
] spoke about the possibilities...The President of the Greater Washington Board of Trade and everybody there heard about what was happening here today - about the protest, and about how management at this facility is not conducive to wholesome, productive, and positive re-entry in the District of Columbia."
WPFW producer and host Rhozier "Roach" Brown
said, "We have a large population of returning citizens; larger than we did when this contract with Hope Village and D.C. and the BOP was established. This contract should be renegotiated."
Rowe added, "I have a specific example of what's going on in t here [Hope Village]. There's a brother in there right now that went out and got a job with Pepco. They hired him and Hope Village told him that he couldn't take the job because he couldn't drive until April of next month. He got the job at the end of February, but because he couldn't drive until April, they wouldn't let him take the job, so we referred him to another place, and Prince Dajour
hired him. Dajour said that they couldn't give him anything full time but could hire him on-call; that way they'll see see how things go and move on from there. Hope Village told him that he couldn't work on-call. So where is he at now?
...he's right inside Hope Village
, and probably more frustrated than we are.
Rev Kelly Wilkins
of Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ
said, "I have another example. At Covenant Baptist we had an employment program and the men didn't come consistently or couldn't come at all to get help. They would call us from the pay phones and tell us that they could not leave; that's why they couldn't be there. So if Hope Village isn't going to help them look for a job, and we can't help them look for a job, then, how are they going to find a job?"
Yango Sawyer said, "How can they get to the job if they don't provide transportation?"
"Again, Hope Village needs to know that these men are halfway home, not halfway in" Rowe mentioned. "When you're in a halfway house, they are suppose to be working with you to make a smooth transition, but thier's nothing smoothing about being at Hope Village."
One supporter of the protest group's cause remarked, "Being at Hope Village is a hopeless
cause." Roach Brown said, "They do a good job of keeping our brothers locked up in there and won't let them go out and get a job. With the discrimination that exists now with ex-offenders, with people who have a record, its hard to get a job. If you put on the application and fill it out truthfully, most of the time they just put it in the trash."
Change starts on the inside. Being at Hope Village shouldn't be your excuse for not changing," said Tenleytown neighborhood resident Candice Altwood. "People want to go to the nearest scapegoat, and for returning citizens, its Hope Village and the government."
Joan Moskowitz, a Columbia Heights neighborhood resident, said, "Hope Village can't be responsible for every negative thing that goes on there. My setpdad used to work at a halfway house in Indiana, and the staff usually were in the right, but these guys living there make it seem like they deserve something from us. They should understand that they have to win the staff over, not the other way around."
The entity has contracts with the BOP and the District of Columbia Department of Corrections
(DCDOC) to serve offenders who are pre-trial inmates, court-ordered misdemeanor, sentenced misdemeanors, and individuals who might be serving sanctions they've received from their probation/parole officers (CSOs who are a part of CSOSA
Each of the two-bedroom apartment style housing units can have as many as eight people inside. "It's hard to breathe and have any kind of space; let alone personal space," said a current resident who couldn't give his name because he's not suppose to talk to members of the press or media.
When a person first arrives at Hope Village, they are placed on no movement
for seven days. During that time inmates go through what known as a 7-day orientation
. They meet the facility leaders [representatives from Hope Village, BOP, and the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency
(CSOSA)], participate in an orientation class, are assessed for medical and mental health issues, and a must take part in a 12-hour mandatory life skills program, where instructors covering topics relating to substance abuse, job readiness, health awareness, life safety, financial management, parenting, and computer skills (although recent residents released from there say the computer component was sitting in a basement talking about different parts of the computer for an hour).
One of the main areas the protesters hit on was Hope Village demanding resident-inmates to pay 25 percent of their paycheck to Hope Village if they were employed.
"These people are ripping off our brothers in there," said one protester. "They are taking their hard earned money and doing what only God knows!"
Hope Village Director Joseph Wilmer
said, "The 25 percent thing is not of our doing. That's a mandate that was established by the BOP. We don't have anything to do with it, other than to make sure that those who have jobs are in full compliance."
A Hope Village staffer added, "Besides, there are opportunities for men to receive a waiver, and get out of paying the percentage fee. Everybody has that option."
On February 3, 2010, Jeffrey Varone
, Chief Executive Officer of Hope Village, Inc. testified before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
's Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and the District of Columbia. In his testimony Varone said in part, "I am pleased to appear before you today to discuss the effectiveness of residential re-entry centers or "half-way houses"
on public safety
, prisoner re-entry, and recidivism in the Nation's capital. Of course, I will be speaking from the experience we have garnered over the past thirty years at Hope Village, Inc. helping offenders re-integrate into the Washington, D.C. community."
He said that Hope Village is the second largest employer in Ward 8
of the District of Columbia, employing 104 full-time staff; a senior operations director, 2 program directors, 35 Charge of Quarters, 8 case managers, 5 vocational counselors, 2 certified substance abuse counselors, and 4 social workers.
He also said that the organization has a very low offender recidivism rate
and that should serve as atangible testament to the effectiveness of their programs for offender re-integration
Change is only as real as the person who really is interested in the idea, but still many believe that Hope Village doesn't offer that doorway for change. "We will be back!" the group shouted as they closed their protest.
Returning Citizens Trailer
FREE MOVIE SCREENING
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Doors open 6:00pm
"Returning Citizens" focuses on a passionate group of individuals who are looking for a second chance - or perhaps a chance they never had to begin with. Taking place in Southeast Washington, DC, the film offers a humanizing perspective on a community that has been negatively impacted by mass incarceration. From freshly returning individuals struggling to rebuild their lives, to community leaders working to end the on-going cycle of crime and violence, the stories unveiled in "Returning Citizens" offer proof that change is possible when the right opportunities are presented.
THEARC: Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus
1900 Mississippi Ave SE
Washington, DC 20020
Guest speakers include:
Kevin Donahue - Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice
District of Columbia
Gretchen Rohr - Program Officer, Open Society Foundation
Kara Gotsch - Director of Strategic Initiatives, The Sentencing Project
Deanna Hoskins - Senior Policy Advisor for Corrections & Reentry
Department of Justice
As well as activists from the film:
Lashonia Thompson-El - The WIRE
Tyrone Parker - Alliance of Concerned Men
Charles Thornton - DC Office of Human Rights
Roach Brown - The Inner Voices
For FREE tickets, click on the link below
Washington Times re: Roach Brown
50 Years of Service
"50 Years of Service" The Washington Informer
The Washington Informer's 50th Anniversary celebration honored 50 Influencers including radio talk show host and activist Joe Madison (right), who shared reflections about his first meeting with Informer founder/publisher Dr. Calvin W. Rolark. He led the audience in Rolark’s iconic quote, "If it is to be, it is up to me."
Everyone loves a party especially when they hold the coveted position as the guest of honor.
And to pay tribute to the contributions of leaders from the community, The Washington Informer recently hosted a 50th anniversary reception that allowed participants to reflect on the newspaper's 50 years of service.
"This paper was founded 50 years ago by Dr. Calvin Rolark because he wanted to provide a vehicle for sharing positive news about D.C.'s black community," said Ron Burke, advertising and marketing director, The Washington Informer.
"Now his daughter, Denise Rolark Barnes, continues that legacy despite the challenges that we and others in print media face today. This evening is about looking back, looking forward and recognizing 50 local trailblazers," Burke said.The 50th anniversary influencers' reception, held at the Carnegie Library in Northwest on Thursday, Oct. 23, marked the last of a series of events sponsored by the newspaper to mark its five decades of weekly news coverage of events in the Greater Washington Area.
The festive affair included performances by the Urban Nation Hip-Hop Choir and students from Richard Wright Public Charter School, a presentation by Jacqueline Woody, special assistant in the Office of the Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III and words of congratulations from some of the District's most respected business and community leaders.
"We thank you for the excellent coverage you've given us for 50 years and we encourage all those present to utilize the essential local and regional information that this paper provides every week," Woody said.
The District's top official, Mayor Vincent C. Gray, praised The Informer for a job well done.
"This is hugely important," said Gray, a vocal supporter of the newspaper.
"It is such a positive statement that The Informer has made in 50 years. People generally stumble coming up with the names of other newspapers after The Washington Informer but The Informer has been here for 50 years and the content is extraordinary," said Gray, 71.
Joe Madison, one of the honorees and often considered the dean of D.C. journalism, agreed.
"The black press is extremely important because while we read The Washington Post, when you see the columns and stories in The Informer, it's for us," Madison said.
"Don't undervalue, underestimate or marginalize this paper. These stories are those that other publications don't think are important. Most of us wouldn't have known about Emmett Till or Martin Luther King, Jr. if it wasn't for the black press. The white press didn't cover what King did because they didn't want to give him exposure. The black press put him on the map," said Madison, 65, an award-winning talkshow host often referred to as "The Black Eagle."
One representative from Pepco Holdings, Inc., which served as the title sponsor for the evening, said her company has been supporting The Informer since it first opened its doors.
"We have been advertising with The Washington Informer since 1964 – 50 years ago – and we applaud the paper's publisher for continuing the work that was started by her father," said Donna Cooper, president of the electric service provider with customers in D.C., Prince George's and Montgomery Counties."Because of Dr. Rolark and now Denise, the black community has had a voice when we needed it. We will continue to support this fine publication in every way we can," Cooper said.
One civil rights activist and now the interim president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association described the reception as a "momentous occasion."
"Tonight is two-fold: it is a mandatory reflection of the gift of the past legacy of Dr. Rolark and it is one of the most important gatherings of the future of D.C.," said the Rev. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., 66. "The nation's capital needs a strong voice to represent people still struggling for freedom, justice and equality."
An employee with AARP shared his views on the continued relevance of the paper.
"The Washington Informer serves as the quilter, stitching together the many patches of our African-American and black diaspora here in the metro area," said Louis Davis, Jr., state director, AARP, Inc., District of Columbia. "If [The Informer] didn't do it, no one else would. This celebration has been uplifting for all of us." One Ward 8 resident commended The Informer and its first publisher.
"I first met Dr. Rolark while working for the charity he founded, the United Black Fund, and remember him as being a person whose personality filled the room," said Philip Pannell, executive director for the Anacostia Coordinating Council.
"The Informer is often the only paper that will cover community events in Ward 8 and so it truly documents what goes on in our neighborhoods. When I worked on an initiative to distribute literature and condoms after our community had been hit hard by the HIV/AIDS virus, Dr. Rolark contributed money so that I could take the message to the streets. This event that showcases half a century of service has been spectacular," said Pannell, 64, who lives in Southeast.
One Maryland-based university professor said seeing photos from the archives of the paper took her down memory lane.
"It seems like I've known Denise forever but I know that can't be true," said Pat Wheeler, assistant professor, School of Global Journalism & Communication, Morgan State University.
"At the reception I saw a photograph from 1984 that included the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Jr., Mayor Marion Barry and my father who died about 10 years ago. Seeing him [captured while enjoying] one of his favorite past times, politics, was very moving for me. The Informer has always treated [blacks] fairly and it's still the place to go for news about our community," said Wheeler who lives in Northeast.
The Informer's publisher said she felt the spirit of her father celebrating with her during the reception.
"This evening is very special to me because 20 years ago on this very day my father died," said Rolark Barnes. "If he were here, he would be having a good time, going around the room making everyone feel right at home."
"We couldn't honor everyone but based on suggestions from the community we identified 50 influencers who have made significant contributions to the citizens of Washington, D.C. My father came from Texas where he saw black men hung. He served in the military as well. And he said when he started his newspaper he would only talk about the 95 percent of blacks who were doing positive things to enrich and assist their friends and neighbors. That's what we're still doing 50 years later," Rolark Barnes said.
Washington Informer Staff Writer Barrington Salmon contributed to this article.
A standing-room-only crowd attended The Washington Informer's
50th Anniversary reception at the Carnegie Library in Northwest on Oct. 23.
Ex-offenders pay tribute to former D.C. mayor Marion Barry
Ex-offenders pay tribute to former D.C. mayor Marion Barry, who died last week
||People gather on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building to take part in a memorial rally for former Washington Mayor Marion Barry
on Monday, December 01, 2014. The symbolic coffin had photos of Barry attached to it. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
Ex-offenders pay tribute to former D.C. mayor Marion Barry, who died last week
People gather on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building to take part in a memorial rally for former Washington Mayor Marion Barry on Monday, December 01, 2014. The symbolic coffin had photos of Barry attached to it. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
By Miles Parks
December 1, 2014
Rhozier T. “Roach” Brown remembers the moment last week when he heard that former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry was dead.
“I cried,” Brown said. “I started shaking. He was our hope.”
Brown was among more than 30 ex-offenders who marched west along Pennsylvania Avenue NW on Monday morning to honor a four-term mayor of the District and later a D.C. Council member many of them credit with saving their lives. Brown served 30 years of a life sentence for first-degree murder after being convicted in 1964, he said. He joined Barry’s staff as a liaison for ex-offender affairs after he was released on parole.
“He changed my life tremendously,” Brown said. “I had never had a legitimate job before that. My job was hustling.”
The march was sponsored by the activist groups Cease Fire . . . Don’t Smoke the Brothers & Sisters, and Universal Madness. Cease Fire’s Al-Malik Farrakhan looked out on the marchers who gathered at 950 Pennsylvania Ave. and said almost all the men gathered were ex-offenders.
Kevin Petty, left, and Sidney Davis, right, help carry a symbolic coffin as people march along Pennsylvania Ave. N.W. to remember former Washington Mayor Marion Barry. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
The marchers included Barry’s adult son, Marion Christopher Barry. A police escort closed off streets as the group escorted an empty coffin adorned with smiling pictures of Barry. The group chanted, “Marion Barry! Mayor For Life!” as they headed to the steps of the John A. Wilson Building. Marion Christopher Barry, 34, was flanked for the entire walk by marchers who threw their arms around him while stomping to the beat of a lone drummer.
Barry was known for legislation that helped curb discrimination against those convicted of crimes. Ex-offenders are a significant part of his legacy. The former mayor also embraced an image as a flawed human being.
“I got a job, and I didn’t have to lie or get around it,” said Sam Leonard, 66, who spent 13 years in prison and was able to get a job after acknowledging on a job application that he had served time.
After the coffin was placed on the steps outside the Wilson Building, local ministers said prayers. Barry’s son helped pour a libation into the plants outside the building to honor the former mayor.
More than 10 friends and others spoke on the steps about Barry, with council member Vincent Orange (D-At Large) beginning his tribute by reciting William Earnest Henley’s poem “Invictus,” which Barry loved.
“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul,” Orange said. “I love Marion Barry!”
Christopher Barry, right center, speaks on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building during a memorial rally for his father. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
Speakers focused equally on the late mayor and his son, who they said needs support as he grieves.
“This week, your prayers and good words have eased my burden,” said Barry’s son, who has previously been known as Christopher. He announced at the rally that he will now go by Marion.
The 34-year-old has been in and out of the legal system, with driving- and drug-related charges.
“It’s only appropriate that this week starts with the ex-offender community,” Barry said.
Thursday, the former mayor’s body will be at the Wilson Building for a public viewing before being taken Friday to the Temple of Praise at 700 Southern Ave. SE for a 6 p.m. memorial service.
On Saturday, the Washington Convention Center will host a celebration of Barry’s life from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. before he is buried privately.
Ex-offenders “are at the forefront of the black struggle,” said the former mayor’s son. “There are more young black men in prison than in college.”
Some rally participants wore shirts from Marion Barry’s 1994 mayoral campaign and portrayed him as a recent generation’s Martin Luther King Jr.
Diane Wilkes, 57, brought a sign made from the cardboard of a Snack Pack box.
“For the lives you touched, for the investments you’ve made, for the people you’ve inspired to want more,” wrote Wilkes, who got her first job when she was 12 through a Barry program. “You will always be my Mayor for life.”
Wilkes owns a landscaping business.
“He got me my first job,” Wilkes said. “I’ve loved him ever since.”
THE WASHINGTON POST - JANUARY 20, 2015
January 20, 2015
Honoring King at a time of tension
Civil rights leader’s legacy is debated during marches across nation. A man chants at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day peace walk in Southeast Washington. Tributes across the nation held heightened significance in the wake of recent deaths of African Americans at the hands of police officers. Coverage, A3, B6. Photos and video at washingtonpost.com. Thousands of people marched nationwide on Monday to commemorate the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., an annual tradition that took on greater urgency amid the growing national debate over police tactics in minority communities.
ANDREW HARNIK FOR THE WASHINGTON POST
On the national holiday observing King’s birthday — traditionally seen as a day of service or, for many, a day off work — the usual church services, prayers and speeches honored the slain civil rights leader. President Obama celebrated by taking part in a community service project, as did senior members of his administration.
But even amid the tributes, disputes arose over the meaning of King’s legacy in a new era of protest triggered by recent police shootings of minorities and other perceived inequities in the criminal justice system. In more than a dozen cities, the day was marked by demonstrations under the banner of Black Lives Matter, which has been a rallying cry for protests that have broken out nationwide in recent months.
The tension was most evident in St. Louis, where the August killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, by a white officer in the nearby suburb of Ferguson ignited a renewed national conversation about race and law enforcement. Protesters in St. Louis, angry about Brown’s death and other killings by police, disrupted the King holiday events on Monday, storming the stage of an interfaith celebration at Harris Stowe State College and using profanity-laced chants.
That drew them an admonishment from none other than Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, who was participating in the official events, which also included several days of teach-ins, marches and civil-rights-themed events and church services. Shouting into the microphone at the college, she said: “It’s too much disrespect. You’re disrespecting Martin Luther King first.”
The packed auditorium burst into applause as protesters were escorted out by police.
The St. Louis demonstrators also blocked the street where a march in King’s honor was to begin, ignoring requests from organizers to disperse. “Well, what can I say?” the Rev. Cleo Willis Sr., a march organizer, said afterward. “Our parade was hijacked.”
But protesters in St. Louis and elsewhere in the country countered that their actions were an appropriate way to draw attention to the problems faced by African Americans today and would have been endorsed by King.
It was the latest and perhaps most dramatic example of the rift between the new crop of young black protesters using headlinegrabbing tactics and older-guard civil rights activists, who favor peaceful, religious-tinged demonstrations.
Both groups found in King an example of their cause, with the protesters embracing his courage, strength and willingness to be hurt or jailed for his beliefs, and the traditionalists noting his calls for unity and nonviolence and his Christian faith.
More than three decades after the observance of King’s birthday as a national holiday was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, the demonstrators vowed to “reclaim” the legacy of a man who, while calling for unity and peace, also favored unapologetic and sustained civil disobedience.
“MLK was a radical, very strategic, and uncompromising in his strive for justice,” said Dante Berry, director of the New York based Million Hoodies Movement. “It’s reclaiming our own history in a way that is truthful. . . . What makes people uncomfortable is that we’re challenging people to think about what it looks like — what education, what the justice system, what society — looks like when black lives matter.”
In New York, more than 1,000 protesters covering approximately three city blocks marched from Harlem to the United Nations, chanting slogans both familiar (“No justice, no peace” and “Whose streets? Our streets”) and apparently new (“We will not remain silent while police remain violent”). They represented numerous activist organizations, from the large Justice League NYC to smaller groups including the Class Struggle Education Workers and students from Hunter College.
The protesters’ ethnicity seemed fairly evenly split between whites, blacks and Latinos.
Manhattan nurse Phyllis Cunningham, 75, who is white, was carrying a yellow sign reading “Black Lives Matter.” “My feeling is that we’re all racists,” she said. “This country has been racist from the beginning.’’
Referring to Obama and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, she said: “Now that we have a mayor with a biracial son and a black president in the White House, these issues are finally rising to the surface.”
But unlike earlier, more spontaneous protests that sprang up in New York and other cities after a grand jury in late November declined to indict the officer who shot Brown, Monday’s march was organized and coordinated with the police. The NYPD has also been the target of protests after the death of city resident Eric Garner after he was placed in a chokehold by an officer. That officer was not charged.
In Cleveland, dozens gathered at the snow-covered park where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed in November to begin the first of two King marches.
The park bench near the spot where the boy was slain by a police officer was covered with stuffed animals. On another bench sat black balloons that hoisted a sign reading “Black Lives Matter.”
“Some people think that we’re out here just causing problems,” said Courtney Drain, a 21-yearold protest organizer who lives close to the park. “MLK marched in the streets, he blocked traffic. He wasn’t convenient.”
In Oakland, hundreds marched through the streets chanting, “No justice, no peace,” and they carried a large papier mache King puppet. The puppet, made by low-income and black residents at a senior center for use at community events, bore a picket sign with the slogan and Twitter hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
We all owe Dr. King a lot...his impact was huge. There will always be naysayers and close-minded critics...Dr. King marched for all of us.
The Washington Examiner
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Washington Post Article: Dr. Frances Cress Welsing
The Washington Post
March 18, 2016
Memorial service to be held for celebrated, controversial Frances Cress Welsing.
Psychiatrist and author Frances Cress Welsing was known for her controversial views on race. (Elvert Barnes/elvertbarnes.com)
By Hamil R. Harris
March 17 at 10:32 PM
When family members, friends, and colleagues of Frances Cress Welsing began planning a memorial service for the psychiatrist and author who devoted her life to studying racism and its root causes, they knew they would have a tall order trying to capture her impact.
She was both celebrated and controversial, but never wavering in her belief that the persistent struggles of people of color were the results of the racism they had endured. Welsing died Jan. 2, a few hours after suffering a stroke. She was 80.
Welsing provided psychiatric services to D.C. government agencies and institutions for 27 years. She also maintained a private practice in the District beginning in 1967, counseling patients until days before her death.
Several of those she helped, such as motivational speaker and radio host Roach Brown, say they owe her their lives.
In 1965, Brown was a 21-year-old inmate at the D.C. Department of Correction’s prison in Lorton, Va. A year earlier, he and two other men had been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a “local fence in a dispute over the price of hot jewelry,” Brown said.
[The price of redemption]
No weapon was ever recovered, and Brown, now 72, has always maintained that he was not the triggerman.
Welsing testified during his trial that his actions were consistent with someone whose environment had led to mental-health problems.
“They ended up giving me life in prison because Dr. Welsing spoke up on my behalf,” said Brown, who went on to start the prison theatrical group Inner Voices. “She saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.”
Brown, who had his sentenced commuted in 1975, will be among those in attendance at the memorial service for Welsing on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at Metropolitan AME Church in the District. “Dr. Welsing turned me and other guys around,” Brown said. “She was our Harriet Tubman to get out of mental slavery.”
Welsing first gained notoriety in 1969 after she wrote an essay, “The Cress Theory of Color Confrontation and Racism (White Supremacy).” In it she theorized that racism was rooted in the varying degrees of melanin and the “color inferiority” of white people. She argued that the lack of melanin led white people to develop “hostility and aggression” toward people darker than themselves.
“She had a theory about race and why white people do what they do and I dealt with the what,” said Neely Fuller, author of “The United Independent Compensatory Code System Concept: a textbook/workbook for thought speech and/or action for victims of racism (white supremacy).”
In her 1991 book, “The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors,” Welsing again looked at the origins of white supremacy and its impact. She wrote that “black males must help one another to understand that they are being led by the dynamic of white supremacy to inflict extreme damage upon themselves and each other.”
[Welsing’s work provokes different reactions]
“Dr. Welsing’s major contribution as it relates to black mental health was that she had the capacity to challenge the dominant prevailing thought of our society and she gave it the name global white supremacy,” said Kevin Washington, president of the Association of Black Psychologists.
Ray Winbush, director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University and former director of the Race Relations Institute at Fisk University, said Welsing drew heavy criticism for her views, which she expected. She frequently engaged her detractors.
In 1974, she and Stanford University physicist William Shockley, who had argued that blacks were genetically inferior to whites, engaged in debate on the syndicated television show “Tony Brown’s Journal.”
Welsing was born in Chicago in 1935.Her father, Henry N. Cress was a physician, and her mother, Ida Mae Griffen, was a school teacher, and there were high expectations.
“We were taught that we were special,” said Welsing’s older sister, Lorne Cress-Love. “We were encouraged to read and discuss all types of issues.”
Cress-Love said their father and their grandfather, who also was a physician, were passionate about fighting for equality. “My father told us that our grandfather spent more time fighting for the race than practicing medicine.”
In 1957, Welsing earned a bachelor’s degree from Antioch College and in 1962 she earned a medical degree from the Howard University College of Medicine. After graduation, Welsing completed a residency at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington. From 1968 to 1975, she taught in the pediatric department of Howard University’s Medical School.
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