Hidden Voices: 100 Prisoner Book Publishing Project!

As the founder of the United Black Family Scholarship Foundation, it is with great humility that I announce we are now accepting manuscript submissions from incarcerated authors for publication. Our objective is to select 100 prisoner written books to publish. There are no fees incurred by the author. Submissions that focus on the need, and solutions to, promoting societal change in order to bridge the racial gap between all people and that address the plight before underserved communities, so we may rebuild them, will be given special attention.

Here, we are bringing to life the stories of our voiceless—those hidden from society—with the publication of their untold stories with hopes of discovering real solutions to the constant struggles our communities face. For years our focus has been on identifying the issues/problems. It’s time to write words that carry forth messages of solutions for change, and put them into action through our organizational structure for a better today and tomorrow.

After spending close to two decades in prison, I have come to know many incarcerated people who truly want to give back to their communities. However, D.O.C. nationwide makes this virtually impossible. It exploits our capital and purposefully redirects our resources away from our communities. Consequently, many of us become dependent on prison slaves (i.e., jobs). And seldom do we ever overcome the stigma and stereotype propagated by the state that we are monsters.

Having acknowledged this, part of our objective here is to counter the stereotype by changing and controlling the narrative. In addition, aside of providing our authors a standard royalty, proceeds generated from this project will go towards funding the organization’s scholarship and Community Grant programs.

Moreover, in terms of writing and what it does for those of us who are incarcerated, we experience feelings of being trapped and we feel voiceless, or misunderstood because we cannot speak the words we truly wish to say, and have to use poor substitutes. Writing therefore becomes a total release for someone in prison.

Now, I’d imagine many of my readers have never been in prison. Try an imagine what an unending time period in here must feel like. Especially if you are innocent of what you were accused of. But even if guilty of something, writing and publishing a book can transform the person in so many ways. Just to experience the sense of release can transform a person’s life. The stories told from such people are often thoroughly visceral and amazing for the layperson to read.

The best writers, of course, can take you to their inner places, to the place of a crime or a life changing experience that is positive, or the moment they knew they’d grown into a new person and why. In the Writers Room Workshop I have taught over the years throughout California prisons, I explain, “You have to be willing to go deeper than the person on the street. You have to take them for a ride of which they cannot take themselves. So unlike acting, you have to go into yourself to bring out the real you or other characters within you that feel real and also need to come out. It’s just an amazing process when done well. And perhaps first you learn to allow the page to take yourself out of your prison cell. But after many tales, you learn to take others on that same ride. On the backs of our words.”

That said, one of the main reasons that were working to establish this program is we want to be able to provide a sense of accomplishment for these men, women and children. The first time I published from prison walls I remember like yesterday holding my book, Domestic Genocide: The Institutionalization of Society, in my hand. It was then that I realized that these walls are more mental than they are physical. And through my writings I realized that if I could not be in the world physically, then I could bring the world to me and mend the community with my words.

Today I often explain to professors, students and the organization’s volunteers who, as a result of my writings have came into my life, that there are so many people in prison that have voices that the world needs to hear; that strive to do something good for the communities from which they hail. Let’s show them how to fulfill that good with the power of words and publishing!

Lastly, we definitely need donations as well as any volunteers that would be willing to assist with this endeavor. If you are interested in volunteering please contact us at:

ubfscholarshipfoundation@gmail.com. Thank You.

In Solidarity!

Ivan Kilgore

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