This week, a song reminded me of the famed American middleweight boxer, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter*. The Hurricane was born in May of 1937, and was at the height of his career in 1966 when he was wrongfully convicted of a triple-murder and imprisoned for almost 20 years. He was exonerated in 1985, and became an activist for the wrongly convicted after his release.
Carter earned his nickname “The Hurricane” for his lightning-fast fists. After previous run-ins with the law, he learned to channel his anger and frustration into his boxing and in December of 1964, he was widely regarded as the best bet to win his next title bout. In prison, and frequently in solitary confinement, Carter survived by devouring books on all subjects -- reading law, philosophy, history, metaphysics, and religion. During his darkest times, he was confident that he would one day be proven innocent. After a long battle with the justice system, he was released in 1985. Carter moved to Toronto, Canada (my homeland!) where he worked on a book documenting his life, founded an advocacy group called Innocence International, and often lectured about seeking justice for the wrongly convicted. Up until the months before his death three years ago, he was found campaigning and writing about the release of those people in prison whom he believed to be wrongly convicted.
“They can incarcerate my body but never my mind,” the Hurricane told The New York Times in 1977. It’s one of humanity’s greatest truths – that what we learn, and know, is protected from imprisonment. Every day that our scholars are in our classroom, every lesson that they absorb, every single word they read, is a tool – a tool that equips them to change their community, their country, and the world. Each day, in very small steps, we are making big strides in the long and never-ending process of preparing our scholars for what’s to come in their lives. Every single one of us plays a role in that journey – whether you are on the ground in Zambia, working with our teachers and student every day, or whether you are here in the US helping to raise funds to support our schools.