I am one out of thousands in the Department of Corrections that’s convicted of a Felony.
I am one out of thousands ineligible to vote in the upcoming election.
I am one out of thousands who believes that all votes matter.
I’m just one….
We took action during the General Assembly and educated our families on Senate Bills and House Bills that could give us the opportunity to gain our FREEDOM back. Bills such as Second Look, Parole, Earned Sentence Credit, Fish back, Juvenile Parole and Geriatric.
We encouraged our families to let their voices be heard and show up in support at the Virginia Prison Justice Network rally, Second Look Lobby Day and to contact Delegates like Don Scott, Marcus Simon, Vivian Watts, James Leftwich and the list goes on.
We stood with 40 Strong, Sistas in Prison Reform, ACLU, Humanization Project, Nolef Turns and Coalition For Justice in solidarity at Monroe Park. Not only did our families have the opportunity to let the years and decades of missing us be felt through their expressed words, Democrats and Republicans were able to see the faces of the ones who care for us dearly. Our families presence, emails, letters and voices roared for us and left a mark. They now know that we matter and that our families are standing with us in this FREEDOM fight.
This FREEDOM fight to be able to vote….
This FREEDOM fight to be able to be free….
This FREEDOM fight to be able to be looked at as a civilized human being, instead of the felonies that come across the screen when they type in our names along with that seven digit number that belongs to the state.
This FREEDOM fight to be able to feel the impact from thousands of convicted felons if we were eligible to vote, be successful in filling the one hundred seats up for reelection in the Virginia House of Representatives, with legislators who believe that bills need to be voted in to give a mass amount who have earned it, another chance at FREEDOM.
This FREEDOM fight just to be able….
I am one out of thousands who knows what FREEDOM will look like to me.
FREEDOM will allow me to be there physically as that male model for my sons and daughters.
FREEDOM will allow me to be able to encourage my daughter that she is as smart as any teenager in her school.
FREEDOM will allow me to be there to show my sons that its so much more to them and to be who they dream to be.
FREEDOM will allow me to be able to walk with my daughter on campus and listen to her tell me about her major.
FREEDOM will give me the opportunity to show that I’m far from that young man that walked through those revolving doors.
FREEDOM will allow me to be able to show I’ve grown and that Yusef Hasan Sykes Sr., from Newport News, Virginia has become a writer for Prison Journalism Project, the author of Caught Up, Belly of The Beast(Being Revised), Soulmates Aishah & Muhammad, Recovery, NASEERF on Amazon, a writer in the Virginia Techs Center for Humanities Unlocked Vol.2 Winter 2023 journal on Amazon, a two time graduate from Stratford Career Institute in Plumbing and Creative Writing and the list goes on.
June 11th will mark 17 years that I’ve been incarcerated and over the time I’ve learned that change doesn’t happen overnight, but as long as we stand in solidarity together and remain relentless, we can’t be denied.
When the General Assembly met early this year we sent emails and made phone to our families to inform them about the bills being raised and events to attend. When the General Assembly met early this year we wrote, The Governor, Lt. Governor, Delegates and Republicans in support of bills being raised. Our efforts and our family’s efforts made a difference, but we still have a long way to go. This November, we have to put even more effort towards filling the one hundred seats in the Virginia House of Representatives. Families have to be contacted to inform them about the ones going up to be elected and about the rally’s during that time. We can’t wait until November, we have to start now. When the General Assembly met, I was relentless and I will continue to be relentless and encourage my family members to vote and let their voices continue to be heard.
In solidarity, we stand with Brilliance Behind Bars….
Yusef Hasan Sykes Sr.
River North Correctional Center, #1199406