The Underground Railroad Of Reentry
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Freedom Fighting Missionaries presents ,The Underground Railroad Of Reentry a photographic documentary.
This artistic documentary features seventeen of our top underground supporters who have helped shape our reentry program.
Each one of those featured chose a location that relates to our work together and each individual contributed to the creation of a county wide reentry program that has created a meaningful pathway to self sufficiency for returning citizens and those impacted by the criminal justice system. The seventeen photographs include elected officials, community leaders, healthcare professionals, banking, government officials, non profit founders, law enforcement, and real estate developers.
How often do you know something absurd to be true and you simply do nothing about it?
Attorney Bob Ward is quoted as saying “ I understand Kenny’s frustration; it's like he is always trying to explain the obvious to the oblivious. “
“Over 10,000 ex-prisoners are released from America’s state and federal prisons every week and arrive on the doorsteps of our nation's communities.” (1) Often persons are released without resources, housing, employment, medicine, food, clothing, transportation or identification.
“It’s a cruel jest to say to a Bootless man that he ought to lift himself up by his bootstraps.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
The people honored and celebrated tonight are doing the work in powerful, important, strategic and everyday ways and in most cases outside of the norms of their predecessors.
In January of 2020, Kenny Robinson formed Freedom Fighting Missionaries to focus on the transition out of incarceration towards self sufficiency. Having served a 10 year federal sentence, Kenny brings personal experience to this work. In just two and a half years, he has built a broad collaborative network of people and institutions focusing on re-entry, resources and connections. Freedom Fighting Missionaries has had an outsized impact in a short period of time and the work of this documentary was to listen to and see the stories to understand what drives the power of this work.
The Underground Railroad to Re Entry consists of 17 documentary portraits created with the intention of telling the who and the why. The words in quotation marks below are all taken from my notes and work. The attributions are less important than the threads that were repeated through many conversations.
“What makes Kenny unique is the combination of his hustle mentality, the streets, and his curiosity and appetite for structured learning.” He is an avid learner. Make a mistake; learn from it; create new solutions. Several have mentored Kenny. It is evident the wisdom, skills and experiences brought to this work by those I photographed and Kenny’s willingness to listen, observe, learn and grow.
“He is willing to do the work.” Many people know what needs to be done and have a heart for creating change in the community. Few have the follow through it takes to do the hard, uncomfortable work. Long hours, physical and emotional toil.