This weekend I got to meet one of my favorite people, for a second time! You may have heard of him, he attended Harvard with our current President, he is a NYTimes best selling author, an actor (Covert affairs and my personal favorites were his cameos on The Game and his role opposite my SISTER Dr. Kerry Marisa Washington in for colored girls) and an activist and advocate and probably 6 other awesome things I can’t think of right now but most of all he is close to me as a person that I look to for guidance and inspiration through his work so much so that when I decided to build my own outlet, this very blog, I used one of his quotes as the headline on the home page.
I met Hill for the first time at Essence Magazines annual Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. Hill was on a panel at the convention center and he took time after the panel to take photos and sign books. I have a funny story about how I got my book (The Conversation) signed that I won’t share the details of today but it was so worth it. When I heard hill was coming to Brooklyn I HAD to be there. Not to mention Brooklyn Restoration is so close to where I live.
I had just recommended Letters to an Incarcerated Brother to someone on twitter who was looking for a good read when I stumbled into the Greenlight bookstore to pick up a calendar of events that included Hills presentation. I immediately texted my friends inviting them to join because I was surely going and I was definitely buying the book.
What I love most about Hills books is that you don’t just read the book, you have homework to do afterward and you can always pass the book on and bless someone else’s life with it, unless of course its hand signed by Hill himself in which case you Share some integral passages via email with those you think my benefit from it in order to avoid having the person you loaned said autographed book to losing it without a trace (yes I’ve had an unanticipated parting with my first copy of the conversation).
Hills most recent book “Letters to an Incarcerated Brother” addresses the mass incarceration issue in the United States and more specifically in the African American and poor communities.
Hill began his presentation asserting that Mass Incarceration is an issue that no one talks about and later recounted part of his struggle with his publishing process was his fight with a publishing house that was convinced that this was an issue that Hills audience, or anyone for that matter, are not concerned with or interested in the issue.
He guided the audience to the first passage in the book; A letter from an imprisoned 16 year old boy that after reading Hills first book (Letters to a Young Brother) wrote Hill a very honest and moving letter from, but not in the usual fashion of moving and honest letters like we get from loved ones. The letter made it evident that the young man was writing and probably also reading at roughly a 4th grade reading level for an average American child. After reading the letter Hill recalled asking himself “Had he failed us or have we failed him.”
Thanks to Hills commitment to young men and women, to his community of readers and fans and his understanding of a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,. he admits to carrying with him “We are all tied together in a garment of mutual destiny” Hill took a pay cut and put up a fight to publish this book and make it an agent for change. You can purchase the book HERE. The book includes a list of prisons to send a copy to via the warden for the Prison library.
Check out my throwbacks with Hill and a few Photos from Saturday night Below !
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