Free/Pillars #writephoto

pillars
Photo by Sue Vincent

“Mr.  Johnson, how does it feel to be a free man after spending twenty-five years in jail?” a reporter asked Leroy Johnson as he stood in front of the courthouse with its massive pillars.  His mother was beside him.

He looked around at the sea of reporters with their mikes shoved in his face and the flashing cameras and smiled.  “It feels great!” he exclaimed.

Leroy was freed after spending twenty-five years of his life behind bars convicted of a murder he didn’t commit.  He was a free man now thanks to a couple of law students who examined the questionable circumstances surrounding his conviction and got his case opened.    Malcolm Holder, the real killer confessed to the killing.

“Do you feel any resentment toward Malcolm Holder?”

Leroy shook his head.  “Why should I feel resentment toward him?  He came forward and confessed to the killing twice.  The first time he did it was a couple of days after the shooting but he wasn’t arrested.  He tried to do the right thing but nobody listened.  They arrested me instead, an innocent man and sentenced me to forty years in jail with no chance of parole before 2029.”

“Is there anything you want to say to him?”

“Nothing except, that he did the right thing coming forward.”

“Mrs.  Johnson, how does it feel to have your son back?”

Mrs. Johnson smiled.  “It feels wonderful,” she replied.  “After twenty-five years, the Lord finally answered my prayers.  My son is a free man now.”

“Mr.  Johnson, what do you plan to do now that you’re free?”

He put his arm around his mother’s shoulders.  “I’m not thinking that far ahead but right now, I’m taking my Mama to lunch.”

I was inspired to write this story after hearing about the New York prisoner, Valentino Dixon whose conviction was overturned because of an investigation Golf Digest’s Max Adler helped to open.  Valentino was accused of shooting a man back in 1991.  He was arrested and convicted even though the real killer, Lamarr Scott admitted to local media just days after the murder that he shot Torriano Jackson but, he was never arrested.  To read the story, visit here.

This was written in response to the Thursday Photo Prompt – Pillars at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

 

Sources:  USA Today; Bossip

Zimele

‘Zimele’ means ‘standing on one’s feet’ in the Zulu language.  I love their logo.  It is of a woman not only standing on her feet but it looks like she is dancing.  This to me expresses the joy of knowing that you are empowering yourself–learning new skills, educating yourself–taking action instead of depending on others to help you.  Joy comes with knowing that you are standing on you own two feet.  Helping people to stand on their own feet is what separates Zimele from the rest of the organizations out there.  Zimele equips and empowers.

Zimele is an organization created from the vision of Rosetta Stander who wanted to develop community self-reliance in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa.  Rosetta was convinced that while non-profit organizations had good intentions, they created a short-sighted welfare environment in which people depend upon the charities for their everyday needs.  Her prior experience of training people in life, vocational, and business skills gave her the conviction that the key to developing South Africa lay in the education of its people.  Education and self-reliance is the best way for a community to survive and thrive.  Rosetta pursued her vision and in 2006, Zimele was formed.  A year later, Zimele USA was founded.  Today, there are Zimele organizations in Canada, the UK and Germany.  The organizations’ mission is to free the rural communities of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa and Zimbabwe from the poverty cycle by transforming each into a ‘Zimele’ community able to ‘stand on its own feet’.

Zimele Canada is throwing their first annual gala here in Toronto.  Here’s your opportunity to learn first hand about the work this organization is doing and to meet its founder, Rosetta Stander.

BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW! 1ST Annual ZIMELE Gala

March 23, 2012

Come join us in the inauguration of the highly anticipated 1ST Annual ZIMELE Gala! This event is an invitation for Toronto to experience a glimpse of the ZIMELE com­munity and see how the region of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa is being empowered to overcome generations of poverty and illness with long term sustainability.

Guests will enjoy a fabulous evening of great food, live entertainment and opportuni­ties to learn more about ZIMELE through various testimonies, including the organization’s founder Rosetta Stander.

Join us in helping the people of South Africa stand on their own two feet!

WHERE: The Columbus Centre, Carrier Gallery
WHEN: Friday, March 23, 2012.
TIME: 6pm cocktail hour , 7pm–11pm
ATTIRE: Semi-formal/cocktail
TICKETS: $85 (no tickets at the door/pre-sale only)

Tickets are on sale now. Click here to purchase your ticket!

For those of you who live in New York or close to New Jersey, Zimele USA is having their annual gala on Sunday, April 1st.  Find out more here.