#MLKDay Series 2021: Joseph Langdon
As we celebrate the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, we asked a few of our staff and participant colleagues to share some reflections. What emerged are powerful statements touching on the unfinished work of racial and social justice, the importance of CEO’s mission and enduring legacy of Dr. King’s example.
I was released from prison in September 2020 after 22 long hard years of incarceration. I went into prison as a 19-year-old young man and returned to the community as a 41-year-old grown man. While in that mad house that is prison, which is full of anger, rage and negativity, I emerged as a new person with new thinking. While in prison I used my time to engage in self-reflection, education, and hard work, with a focus on being a more productive human being. In that very dark and lonely jail cell, I discovered my untapped talents and purpose. I discovered that I wanted to write and be a public speaker. I want to share my story of struggle, oppression, and redemption with people so the lessons of my life can inspire others to be their best selves.
Upon my return to the community, that very week I walked into the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO). I left with a paying job, a team of counselors to support me, and a game plan. Most importantly, I left feeling that CEO knew exactly what I needed upon my release from prison. Ninety days later I am following my dream of becoming an author, entrepreneur, and activist for prison reform. No one would’ve ever thought that I would have gotten out and succeeded. That’s why programs like CEO are important; they help to level the playing field for people leaving incarceration.
As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr's birthday, I am reminded of a quote from his Letter from a Birmingham Jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny, that affects all indirectly.” Dr. King was a visionary who knew if the problem of injustice and racism that plagued America back then were not corrected, they would become worse. The recent attack on the nation's capital is a prime example of what Dr. King was worried about. My hope is that we will all reflect on Dr. King’s words and come together to make our country better.
My journey has been a long one, but I am committed to changing my legacy and uplifting and empowering young people who are our future. That is why I wrote my book. I want to right the wrongs of my past and become the change that I want to see in the world. I am the living dream of Martin Luther King. I’m “free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty I’m free at last.”
Joseph P. Langdon’s forthcoming, self-published, debut book is titled: From the Sandbox to the Cell Block: A Story of Struggle, Oppression & Redemption. Joseph describes the book as “ a very raw, honest and inspirational read” The book will be available on Amazon Kindle on January 25, 2021. Joseph is also the founder of Joseph P. Langdon Enterprise LLC.