Dozens of local residents gathered at Richmond’s Civic Center Plaza on Friday night to watch a short documentary produced by San Quentin prisoners to promote nonviolence among youngsters.
The 10-minute video, made by San Quentin prisoners who call Richmond their home, is part of the Richmond Project, which prisoners initiated to stay connected with the Richmond community.
The video opened with a panoramic view of the San Quentin Prison and followed with interviews of a group of Richmond natives who expressed their hope for change and willingness to work toward it. The video portrayed the ordinary lives of the prisoners and ended with an original rap song advocating peace and change.
“The Richmond Project is for change,” said an inmate from south Richmond, called Waylo, in the video. “Help the Richmond community, the youngsters to stop violence and do something positive.”
“We were all on the same path. We made mistakes in our lives. We want to give back so others won’t fall into the same situation and predicament,” said another inmate, called Nate in the documentary.
“That’s why this project is so important, because young people would listen to those who come from the same culture,” said Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, adding that inmates reached out to her to help build a connection between prisoners and the community.
The video sparked lively discussion among viewers in the Whittlesey Room next to the main library, with some offering comments and others suggesting ways of how to get the message of the video to young people.
“This is an exceptional video,” said Rodney Alamo Brown, 47, a writer. “It’s delightful to see them in good spirit again and willing to give back.”
“The opportunity to reflect on our own stories and use them to shape other people’s stories is essential to recovery and transformation,” said Rebecca Brown, an organizational development consultant, who was in the audience. “We need more of these projects.”