My second trip of the year takes me to receive the Justice, Peace and Freedom Award from the 2016 AFL-CIO Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference. #1uMLK I feel humble and honor to sharing the stage with Dorsey Nunn, Rachel Bryan and the #BlackLivesMatter Co-Founders Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, Patrisse Marie Cullors-Brignac and different labor leaders. I couldn’t have be in this space without my Asian Prisoner Support Committee family and #AAPIsBeyondBars Coalition. Thank you for your leadership and support.
Eddy is the award recipient for the 2016 Justice Freedom Peace Award for his commitment and dedication to the advancement of civil rights and workers’ rights and for his exemplified service and work with the Asian Prisoner Support Committee.
Thirty year ago today, at the age of sixteen, I played judge and sentenced a family of four to a life sentence of trauma and suffering. As a result, the judge sentenced me to life in prison as an adult. I spent twenty-one years in prison, while my parents did twenty-one years with me in the “free world.” At the same time, I contributed to the violent statistics in the community.
We are never separated from the self, family and community.
I want to apologize to the family that I had harmed. I am sorry for the trauma I had inflicted on you. I had no rights to do so. I am forever grateful for the mother of the family for accepting the written apologies from me, my parents and community members.
It is timely that the film “Breathin’ – The Eddy Zheng Story” is completed as the country is focusing on criminal justice reform and de-carceration. Ben Wang and many people have created this space to highlight that transformation, redemption, and restorative justice are possible. My story is not just about me. It is about the narratives of many “Others” that do not have a voice to articulate the detrimental impact of the migration to the school-to prison-and-deportation pipeline.
I look forward to watching the film and engaging in dialogue with people on investing in solutions to mass criminalization, incarceration, deportation and dispelling the model minority myth.
In the meantime, I will continue to pay forward until the day I inhale my last breath.