In our first year of existence as a ministry, Speak Ya Truth has sought to, among other things, be a voice for those who are incarcerated and rendered voiceless to the ears and heart of the outside world. It is a horrible feeling to be silenced and to feel invisible, though living and breathing. Sadly, this is the truth of all of those locked in cages like animals in prisons across the United States — all in the misappropriated name of correction and rehabilitation.
The advocacy that we at Speak Ya Truth are most proud of in this vein this year is the voice and awareness that we have been able to bring to Corey L. Sutton, Jr. and his mother, Arica Reddick. At the age of 16, Corey was sentenced to 58 years in prison for a crime he adamantly contends he did not commit. We wrote and published a blog about the nuances of his case and the toll his incarceration has taken on him and his family as told by his mom, Arica, fittingly on January 15th, 2018 — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.
The outpouring of love and support that they’ve received as a result of others learning about their plight has been phenomenal. After five years of languishing, Corey and Arica are finally getting the help they so desperately need and deserve. On behalf on all of us here at Speak Ya Truth, we thank each and every one of you that have reached out to this family in one way or another — even if that simply entailed reading about Corey and sharing his heart-wrenching story.
Today, on the first anniversary of Speak Ya Truth, we want you to hear directly from young Corey. The following is a transcription of a letter he wrote to the system which has him physically incarcerated. No changes have been made to the letter. This is Corey’s authentic voice. We invite you to listen to him with your ears and your heart as he speaks his truth eloquently and passionately from behind the wall of a sweltering prison cell in the state of Florida.
Forever speaking our truth and encouraging you to do the same,
John & Vivett Dukes
Co-Founders, Speak Ya Truth
This is my second letter to the system.This time around, Im going to expand on why I deserve my freedom And to also put you inside a great mind a bit.When I first entered these walls.I was angry at the whole world.Then to put the sprinkles on top.I was sentenced to 60 years.Oh boy! Oh boy!."I was an UNTAMED BEAST".A very young and immature one, I might add.In this environment, I learned over a period of time, that being angry at the world was not going to help the situation, but worsen it.My childish mistakes, that I take full responsibility for, as I got older and wiser.I actually started bettering myself. I feel so much better about me and who I am.Because this journey has not been easy.It yook for me to sit down and ponder on which route I wanted to go on in life, I realized that the grass was not made for driving.That is why they made a systematic route for us to drive on pavement to steer us straight in this world of wrong we live in.I had to overcome all obstacles by systematically gaining these characteristics one by one.Discipline, patience,integrity, bearing, respect and self control,and having peace with myself as well as others around me.Even when authority treats me or the other population in an inhumane unprofessional manner.Being consistant everyday because two rights dont make a wrong,nor does two wrongs make a right, but I know the righteous will always prevail.
About 2 months ago I was stabbed nearly to death 7 times on my mothers BIRTHDAY.Being taken away from my family.Over what?Nothing but pure hatred and envy.Unity is a must.You cant beat someone who had already won.I have no fear.None.Only ambition and I will do whatever it takes to be with my family again.I thank everyone who is here for me. I love and appreciate you.Your work is not in vain.Im very dedicated and determined to spread my wings and fly.WITHOUT STRUGGLE THERE IS NO GROWTH.And you have to have a test to be a testimony.What a story I have to tell? Can I be heard?Am I going to be a statistic? Being an African American male stripped of his life because he was successful or on his way to success and you the system couldn't stand it.So you take him and hide him forever?An innocent man falling off the face of this earth being purjurred upon? Stripped him of his sanity and soul?Make him do things that he will NEVER DO.Its a hard place behind these walls.I've viewed it happen to the best.And they dont have any hope for freedom.I look in their eyes and see nothing but doom and they have given upon life itself.
For me to be standing up fighting for freedom, not giving up on myself and family.Not being the one who has given up and just existing without a cause.This isn't easy.Its easier said than done.Yes I deserve my freedom.I have bettered myself and stayed sane to be fit for society AGAIN.Refusing to give up.This experience has on made me gain strength to show thyself approve.I am destined for greatness.This mind will not go to waste in this inhuman environment.We need great minds in society.Make America great again President Trump said.But how is he making it great again when History keeps repeating itself? Over and over again.How can we elevate? Go back into slavery?Is that making it great again? We are still in bondage.Modern day slavery.I'm going to end this with this "Sometimes its best to be kind, than to be right".At times we do need an intelligent mind that continuously speaks, but a patient heart and ears that listen.
Corey Lee Sutton Jr.