Renaldo Hudson is an educator, minister, and community organizer, and focuses his work on ending perpetual punishment in Illinois. After being sentenced to death row, Renaldo worked for 37 years while incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections, founding groundbreaking programs including the prison-newspaper Stateville Speaks and the Building Block Program, a transformational program run by incarcerated people within the Illinois Department of Corrections. Renaldo’s work and life have been featured in media outlets throughout the state and are the subject of the documentary Stateville Calling. Renaldo is the Education Director at the Illinois Prison Project.
I was sitting in the cell watching the news, listening to people going off about crime. And why they should throw the keys away on all of us. I heard these words ” FREEDOM COST “I remember listening as the officers came down the gallery to take one of the brothers to execute him. The words were screaming in my head. FREEDOM COST! And don’t you forget it. [The man I painted] is trying to breathe, way before G.F. was killed by the cop that stood on his neck until he died. We were trying to breathe through the fog of racist stuff, and his hair being connected to the bars is simply the link of imprisonment that will follow you for the course of your life. Always trying to pull you back into a cell. Our hair is able to carry our strength.
“Freedom Cost” by Renaldo Hudson