The Prison Advocate and MacArthur genius turns what could be Malcolm Xs former cell into a library and place for hope and a library

The Prison Advocate and MacArthur genius turns what could be Malcolm Xs former cell into a library a ...

Reginald Dwayne Betts is the rare person who has voluntarily chosen to return to prison, speaking freely.

Betts was kidnapped at 16 and paroled at 24. He has since been a notable author of the MacArthur award and earned a prestigious 'the macArthur "genius grant'.

He was awarded a grant of the Mellon Foundation two years ago to build libraries in prisons to create spaces that inspired him to dream of what life might become while incarcerated.

That is how he settled in MCI-Norfolk one day this month, placing the first of those called Freedom Libraries in a hallowed spot, the cells thought to have been occupied by Malcolm X during his prisoneration and his conversion to Islam in the late 1940s.

He got the chance to become a leader of an intellectual community. "An event like this, what better place to start?

Malcolm X hailed the midwest but spent some time in Massachusetts, after a time to work for a general practice evaporating and taking crime, and larceny, and entering.

The idea that prison was, if it were, history, where he began a intellectual life and found his religious path, a transform eloquently captured in his classic memoir, The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

Having a degree in Law from Yale, and a doctorate for a degree there, he found the inspiration behind prison as a place of transformation. The idea of a prison was inspired by Betts imagination, and he has become a poet and changed his mind and became a professor of justice.

While Betts was raised in Maryland and now lives in Connecticut, Massachusetts is closer to her, he is a fellow of Radcliffe School and taught at Middlesex Community College.

It's so important that the Freedom Library puts them on housing units. Every day when they look out their cells or even they look around their living rooms, they can see something beautiful. This book is useful for people who don't have to be there. These books allow them to have access to themselves and can be transformed into a conduit for them to not be there.

Many prisons, including MCI-Norfolk, have libraries. But they are often law-oriented, who have been turned over by inmates, hoping to find a way out of their predicament. Betts is thinking of something broader, maybe loftier.

Another part of the book has Spanish heritage, like the Dame of the Old Testament, the Dame of the Old Roman Empire. And the Dame of the New York Times, the most valuable of the books is the King in the Old Town.

It's quite diverse with a lot of women writers and well-organized isn't one of those who are interested in studying modern work, Betts said.

It took him to MCI-Norfolk, but he was not sure, so he decided to put that in the secret prison on the memory.

I feel bad having to admit that it wasnt my idea, Betts said sheepishly.

And so we built this beautiful thing with all this knowledge, with the hope and expectation that it will benefit the staff and those doing time, as well as, the working / what work...

DOC officials say they can not definitively confirm that the cell that was supported by the library was Malcolm X; but say they are pleased with the collaboration, regardless of the quality of the collaboration and anticipate that more Freedom Reads libraries will be built in the states prisons.

It's an opportunity for people to close to personal discovery and closer to reflection. Made X said that a prerequisite to changing life is to realize what it means to be guilty, Betts said. For a while, to find some and think about what it means to become a guilty matter, I think about reading it, one can afford the extra time and then be close to reflection.

Betts' own story his personal redemption looms as an example of the potential to become more than anyone imagined.

The author said that he'm trying to change a narrative of possible and hope rather than slogans.

For him, changing that narrative means getting returned to prison, and it means returning to Massachusetts.

Betts was launching his career as a poet here when he started his career as a lawyer, and a professor wanted to promote prisoners.

I thought I was leaving poetry behind to pursue law and freedom, Betts said.

Its fitting me to go back to Massachusetts, where I started to discover a journey of love that took me back to prison in very profound ways.

Adrian Walker is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at. Follow him on Twitter.

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