Our nation pays tribute to one of its black heroes today.
Our office pays tribute to its black hero today.
Here in the United States, citizens mourn the loss of Congressman Elijah Cummings, who died on October 17. The Washington Post relays this interesting information:
Born to a family of Southern sharecroppers and Baptist preachers, Mr. Cummings grew up in the racially fractured Baltimore of the 1950s and 1960s. At 11, he helped integrate a local swimming pool while being attacked with bottles and rocks.
Here in the HFP office, we’re remembering the loss of our hero, Maurice Carter, who died on October 25, 2004. Born and raised in poverty in Gary, Indiana, Maurice wandered into the Benton Harbor area in the 1970s to visit a friend and look for work. Instead, he caught a wrongful conviction that placed him in prison for 29 years.
I learned of his case in the mid-1990s, and for the next decade he and I battled that injustice. And while we may not have attracted the attention of presidents, we quietly created a well-oiled machine that eventually focused international attention on a shameful case of wrongful conviction. Among our outspoken supporters were such prominent names as Keith Findley, Co-founder of the Wisconsin Innocence Project; Chicago freedom fighters David Protess and Rob Warden; Dr. Rubin Hurricane Carter; and author Alex Kotlowitz.
The entire story is told in the book SWEET FREEDOM and the stage play JUSTICE FOR MAURICE HENRY CARTER.
Hepatis C claimed his life just 3 months after his compassionate release. He was never exonerated.
The overwhelming support and interest that helped form a defense “dream team” for Maurice served to inspire him to help other prisoners. And that led to the formation of our parent organization, INNOCENT, in 2001. Several years later our company name was changed to better reflect our mission.
Today, thanks to the vision and tenacity of my brother Maurice, HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS is now a leading state prisoner advocacy agency. We respond to a thousand calls a month, and boast a client list of nearly 10% of the entire population of Michigan prisoners!
Author Alex Kotlowitz said about HFP, in a recent visit, “It is so commonsensical…I don’t know why we don’t have a HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS in every state in this country.
Someday that will happen.
Quite a legacy for an indigent black man from Gary, Indiana!
RIP, my brother.