Thursday, February 7, 2013

It could happen to you

At first blush it might seem that my ego is getting the best of me when I ask you to watch a performance about me on stage. But hang in there...this isn't about me, it's about you.

Two wonderful playwrights from Toronto, Alicia Payne and Donald Molnar, read my book SWEET FREEDOM some years ago and were touched by the story of Maurice Carter and Doug Tjapkes. In about 1995, I made a decision to try to help this black man sitting in the Michigan prison system, claiming that he was wrongly convicted. The fight was waged over the next nine years. Alicia and Don thought that the story could best be told on the stage, so they obtained some grants and over the next couple of years conducted their own research into the story. They went through my files, they traveled to Benton Harbor, they interviewed key players in the case. As a result of all that came the stage play: JUSTICE FOR MAURICE HENRY CARTER.

We are so grateful to the Calvin Theatre Company for scheduling two staged readings of this play, on February 22 and 23, 7:30 PM, in Gezon Auditorium on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids. Yes, someone will be playing Doug Tjapkes on the stage...a frightening thought. The actors will be aided by a gospel chorus.

I had to go through the files to find some old pictures of Maurice and me for publicity, and it revived many of the old memories.

What does all of this mean to you?

This is a story that you MUST hear, not to inform you about things I did or heroic efforts of other volunteers, but to show you how easy it is to wind up in prison, and how hard it is to get out. The system can and does make mistakes. This mistake kept Maurice Carter in prison for 29 years.

It could happen to you.

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