All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Saturday, July 23, 2022

July 24: A special day!

College student Matt Tjapkes had a great topic for his speech class, back in the late 1990s. His father, Doug, was trying to free a Black man who claimed wrongful conviction. Matt’s opinion was correct. His professor gave him an A. 

The paths of Maurice Carter and Matt Tjapkes would continue to cross. 

After graduation, Matt would become a sports writer for the Grand Haven Tribune. When his father was able to persuade famed prize fighter Rubin Hurricane Carter to come to Michigan to raise awareness of the Maurice Carter scandal, he arranged for Matt to get a personal interview with the internationally known pugilist. That made for a great newspaper exclusive. 

Then, on July 24, 2004, when that very same Maurice Carter was released from prison, having served 29 years for a crime he did not commit, Matt’s story made the front page of the Grand Haven Tribune. His photo of Maurice holding his freedom papers later appeared on the cover of a book, written by Doug, that told the Carter story. 

So, on this July 24, there are reasons to celebrate. We call it “M & M Day."

We not only celebrate that day when Governor Jennifer Granholm finally granted a medical commutation for Maurice Carter. The 24th is also Matt’s birthday. Born on July 24, 1978, Matt was the youngest of Marcia and Doug Tjapkes’ offspring. 

Yes,  on this July 24, we remember the earliest days of HFP and we proudly observe our present status. It was Maurice Carter’s idea, back around the turn of the century, that he and I should form an organization that would help prisoners with their most basic needs. Maurice lived for only 3 months following his release.  And today, Matt, is the head of HFP, now entering its 22nd year of “Action with Compassion” for Michigan’s incarcerated. 

Soli Deo Gloria!

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