things that matter

This Bronx Student Won A Full Scholarship To College But Can’t Use It Because He’s In Jail Trying To Prove His Innocence

Credit: WPIX 11

“I want my case dismissed. I’m not pleading guilty for something I did not do.”

A 17-year-old from the Bronx with a full scholarship to college has chosen to stay behind bars, instead of taking a plea deal that would have freed him immediately, so that he can clear his name.

According to WPIX 11 report above, Pedro Hernandez was in the news last year after he was beaten by a correction officer while housed in a detention center. Officer David Terrell, who had Hernandez put in the detention center, is currently being investigated on charges of corruption for allegedly forcing witnesses to say Hernandez was guilty of a shooting. Even the victim of that shooting has told reporters that Hernandez was not the person that shot him, but attorneys are not budging on the case.

The same officer was caught on video “gambling” for someone else’s freedom.

Credit: NBC4 News

According to video and witnesses, Terrell played a dice game while on duty “for the freedom” of someone arrested in the back of his squad car. Officer Terrell has been stripped of his badge and gun pending investigations.

Hernandez has been an exemplary inmate and student, earning his GED, being awarded certificates for leadership and even being awarded a scholarship through Posse, a non-profit that partners with schools to get students scholarships and educational opportunities. The scholarship awarded to Hernandez, according to the family’s crowdfunding page, won’t be granted unless he’s out of jail by September 1st to accept it. At his hearing yesterday, Hernandez’s trial was pushed back until after Labor Day — way after the scholarship deadline.


Update (7/27/17): After raising over $100,000 from a crowdfunding page set up by his family and with interest coming in from all over the world, the judge in the case has reduced the amount of bail needed for Hernandez to be released and as of Thursday his release has been set in motion. In an interview with NY Daily News, Hernandez’s mother said “Justice is being served. Still not fully there, but justice is being served.”


[H/T] NBC4 News

READ: She Didn’t Know Her Rape Led To A Pregnancy. Now, Her Stillbirth Has Landed Her A 30-Year Jail Sentence In El Salvador


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After 20 Years Junot Díaz Kept His Promise To His Goddaughters And Wrote A Picture Book

things that matter

After 20 Years Junot Díaz Kept His Promise To His Goddaughters And Wrote A Picture Book

Junot Díaz/ Facebook/ Leo Espinosa/ Penguin Random House

Dominican-American novelist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz (“This Is How You Lose Her,” “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” “Drown”), just announced that his new project is a children’s book. The 48-page book was illustrated by award winning Colombian artist Leo Espinosa. Twenty years ago, Díaz promised his goddaughters he’d write them a story, and he finally got around to keeping his promise.

“Islandborn” is Díaz’s first picture book and is the result of a promise he made to his goddaughter’s about 20 years ago.

According to the New York Times article Díaz shared on Facebook, the project started two decades ago as a pitch from his goddaughters, who asked him to write a story with characters like them: “Dominican girls living in the Bronx.” The book, released through Dial Books for Young Readers, is an attempt to bring more visibility to literature for people of color. As a young voracious reader, Díaz didn’t see himself represented in literature, saying, “It was an absence I felt acutely,” to The Times.

Two decades after his initial promise, it was another young girl who helped nudge him to keep his word. The daughter of a friend asked him to tell her a story and he obliged, coming up with one on the spot. After being recorded while reciting the story, and after lots of convincing from colleagues and his agent, Díaz eventually sat down to write the story that became “Islandborn.”

The book follows Lola, a young Dominican girl from Washington Heights who is asked by a teacher to draw her family’s homeland. When she can’t, having left DR as a baby, she asks her family for help. The story contains themes that Díaz incorporates into his vivid stories normally aimed at adults, including immigration, identity, and displacement.

The official description of the book on the Penguin Random House page reads:

So when Lola’s teacher asks the students to draw a picture of where their families immigrated from, all the kids are excited. Except Lola. She can’t remember The Island—she left when she was just a baby. But with the help of her family and friends, and their memories—joyous, fantastical, heartbreaking, and frightening—Lola’s imagination takes her on an extraordinary journey back to The Island.  As she draws closer to the heart of her family’s story, Lola comes to understand the truth of her abuela’s words: “Just because you don’t remember a place doesn’t mean it’s not in you.”

The book releases on March 13, 2018, until then, you can brush up on Díaz’s other work — probably best not to read those to children, though.

READ: Try Not To Cry While Listening To This Junot Diaz Poem About Latino Greatness

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