To whom it may concern: A Letter on Dempsey Hawkins to the New York State Parole Board.

NY_-_State_Parole

I have written as an advocate for parole to the board on Dempsey Hawkins’ behalf before.  Since 2006, he and I have been corresponding on many but predominately literary matters.  He responded to an article in The Amsterdam News about my bookshop in Harlem, as did several other prisoners around the country.  My bookshop on […]

Letter from Prison by Dempsey Hawkins

DempseyHawkins

Rehabilitation.  Deterrence.  Retribution.  The words reverberate throughout every criminal courtroom in America the moment the judge strikes his or her gravel.  Three words with which I have become quite familiar during my imprisonment.  While the justice system once held fast to the faith in rehabilitation, tough on crime political agendas intersected with the wasting winds […]

Letters to Prison

Dempsey.arrest.SIA.76

Over the past year, Michael Wilson, the New York Times crime reporter, has been writing about my pen-itentiary pal, Dempsey Hawkins.  We have been corresponding since ’06, when Herb Boyd’s article on Jumel Terrace Books appeared in The Amsterdam News and brought me several correspondances from inmates, Dempsey’s being the only to sustain.  As family […]

Another Hopkins Guy. David Carr & The Night of the Gun.

David Carr

Friday night at a party in the West Village I was introduced to Brett Anderson, who writes for the Times-Picayune.  We started out talking about the newspaper’s tragic turn and restaurants – as he reviews them – until our host says, regards both of us, “He’s from Minnesota, too.” Where from turns out Hopkins.  No […]

Front lines

Monday morning and I am still marveling at the tall so-fey Alabaman Alvin Ailey dancer who visited the shop on Saturday afternoon.  After fielding the usual query to my ulterior motives, I was informed that a lot of black people don’t like to be reminded of their past, as it is too painful. “A lot […]

Paul Robeson’s thoughts on the Morris Jumel Mansion.

Paul Robeson lived at 16 Jumel Terrace.

“I am an American. From my window I gaze out upon a scene that reminds me how deep-going are the roots of my people in this land. Across the street, carefully preserved as an historic site, is a colonial mansion that served as a headquarters for General George Washington in 1776, during desperate and losing […]

On Being White…and Other Lies, Part 1.

“You know you’re white, don’t cha?” “This is a very good collection of books here. Too bad I’d have to buy them from you.” The colors of these speakers, my clientele, aren’t the same but their sentiments are. White man/black books.  That ain’t right. Amalgamation or miscegenation?  N—– Lover or C—– Bandit? Enquiring minds read the shelves […]