March 27th, 2011 Comments Off on A Reflection and Personal Reminiscences
When I met Ernesto Rodriguez he was in his 40’s and close to being released from the last prison he would experience. His many years in and out of prisons had defined his life. His struggle to be “straight” was not for the faint of heart – not for him nor for those close to him. He was angry, defensive and paranoid. That he was able to overcome his many years of being treated like something less than human is a testament to his mental strength. It didn’t happen overnight. He evolved slowly into the man he is today and it required the faith and patience of those who dealt with him in his first few years out of prison. He has often said that what kept him from going back to prison was his wish not to disappoint those people who he met in the Milwaukee community who did not judge him for his past and expected only the best from him.
Someone once asked me which living person I most admired. I did not hesitate to answer, Ernesto Rodriguez. I’ve not known anyone else in my life who had so much to overcome and who managed to elevate himself above all the damaging effects of incarceration. He has certainly paid his dues and now his voice deserves to be heard. He has much to teach us all.