Charles Boyd has been fighting a Death By Incarceration (DBI) sentence for the past thirty-five years. He is co-founder of the Let’s Circle Up (LCU) Restorative Justice project and the internal coordinator for the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), which focuses on community building and conflict resolution. He has been a member of the Graterford Inside-Out Think Tank for fifteen years. He volunteers as a Hospice Caretaker and works in the Alcohol and Other Drugs department as a Certified Peer Supporter. Charles has a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from Villanova University. He is an environmentalist who loves music, art, and creating safe spaces where people can discover their personal and collective sense of agency. He is committed to ending the inhumane practices of DBI sentences and mass incarceration in general.
CHARLES: Instead of painting a flowery image for you, it was important that my partner, “Keebs” and I rendered a disturbing image. If it frustrates, angers, shocks, annoys, agitates, or confuses, it has served in part its purpose.
MAKEBA: I am in awe of how anyone in prison can effectively be an activist; how they can be so committed to social justice by any means. I think that we can all learn a lot about resilience, commitment, and perseverance when there are few to no tools available. I’ve learned that the decision to be committed to social justice is a choice to be a part of humanity; a choice to remain connected; a choice to live.
CHARLES: Freedom is being able to love without the fear of the repercussions. I just love you and fight for you because I realize that my existence is intertwined with yours and vice-versa. Freedom is to have a stake in the issues that affect you. No means no and if I don’t want your unwarranted advances or your corporations drilling for oil on my property then stay the f**k off. If it’s mine, then it’s sacred. Freedom means me as a human being having more rights than a corporation. When the people cry out for justice, freedom and equality and it does not land on a deaf ear… that’s freedom. When the people cry out that’s too much… whether it be misogyny, discrimination, racism, mass incarceration, xenophobia, etc. and it stops, then that’s freedom.
MAKEBA: I equate Black Liberation with freedom. I’m constantly thinking about Black Liberation and what that means. It is important for me visualize and articulate that before I can even try to work towards it. If, as Nina Simone says, “freedom is no fear,” then Black Liberation means the ability to be courageous…the courage to be…to show up fully as your self.
Makeba “KEEBS” Rainey is a Harlem native inspired by her community and fellow emerging visual and performance artists. She is the founder of Black Capital Coalition (BCC), which promotes both visual and performance artists from Harlem through creative collaborations between artists, businesses, and cultural institutions. BCC directs attention to young Harlem artists by teaming up with other young creatives; videographers, musicians, performing artists, and writers; to merge audiences andincrease their collective fan-base. She currently lives in Philadelphia. Learn more at http://www.justcallmekeebs.com/.