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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Echoes of a Footprint


Why should I be envious of a horse that has never known freedom?

The American pastime of horse racing will reward the victorious hoof prints of AMERICAN PHAROAH with a lifetime supply of hay and oats for consumption; continuous pampering by the hands of humans; and now that his genes are a 20 million dollar commodity, his sexual appetite will always be satiated. 

But, he still has no idea what its like to run beyond a man’s finish line; diminishing the echoes of his thunderous imprints by mimicking the high valued presence of SEATTLE SLEW, SECRETARIAT, AFFIRMED, and a slave master’s fiddler.  “Good Stock” on any plantation.

The more I think about life before going to prison, the more I hate existing on the inside.  This is what drives me to raise the bar on my own standard of improvement, when it seems natural to conform to the perks of being oblivious to life on the other side of the wall.  I guess this would explain the brief envy I felt toward a racehorse unaware of anything better than the environment he was placed in.

Revolution begins with knowing who you are.  Understanding your role within the cause and being the best at what you are called to do.  For this reason I chose not to emulate the footprints in the mud before me. Through the use of an ink pen, I am blazing a trail atop the mire of inequality so that others can make footprints on solid ground.

Going to sleep anxious – only to wake up angry can incite the greatest efforts a Mann has to offer.  It feels like I’ve been fighting ever since I was exiled from the protection of my mother’s womb.  Cloak, covert, and colloquialisms are the birthmarks of a successful revolution because they disrupt the abortive confidentiality of informants who have proven reliable in the past.

The echoes of a revolutionary’s footprints hold more relevance than a horse bearing the misrepresented title of a king that never had to fight for a thing.


Copyright © 2015 by Leroy Elwood Mann

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Speaking From the Grave: A Scribe to Justin Bieber


I am not a fan, but I am a lover of music.  I am not a racist, but I am concerned when reminded of inequality being my reality.  

Therefore, I am compelled to lean the mirror of consequence in your direction.  Hopefully, by the conclusion of this scribe, you will see the reflection of your immature actions, and the impact these exploits have on others.

Feeling untouchable is a natural characteristic of being young.  Being reckless to the point of squandering the lifelong success that only a select few get to experience is simply self-destructive.  Through your eyes, Usher, P-Diddy, and Jay-Z may be the norm for elders that pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps, to become the musical stalwarts they are today. 

But, the words before you were written by your reality check.  You see, my son and his children will probably never know the American dream that you publicly toy with as if it was no more than a hobby.

I was born and bred in this country and I feel somewhat accomplished to have lived to be 46 years of age.  At 27, I lost my rights as a first class citizen.  I am a first time offender who lives in a world where taking a polygraph exam means, “we know you did it,” but they will allow you to believe they just need you to ease their suspicions. 

Here are some examples of how this works:
“Mr. Bieber, are you a pothead?”
If you answer is ‘yes’ and the polygraph indicates you are lying, your word wins because you just confessed.  Making a case against you that much easier.

Let’s try it again:
“Mr. Bieber, did you egg your neighbor’s home?”
If your answer is ‘no’ and the polygraph indicates you are lying; the machine wins.  Now you’re a liar – giving authorities probably cause to search for things that will bury you in a court of law. 

Do you understand how this works, Justin? I’m sure you’re thinking I’m just young and living.  Making mistakes comes with the territory, right?  Well, you are living; living in a country where you are simply one poor choice away from being in a situation where there is no right or wrong answer; only the answer that concludes what you know to be your life.

I know the extents of your self-induced thug image are misdemeanor offenses.  I just can’t understand why a Mickey Mouse Club alumnus would desire to be a hooligan when there is a paved road to riches for youngstas like yourself.  Just look at your fellow alumnus.  Justin Timberlake.  He figured it out and hasn’t turned back since. 

By the way, I still have not introduced myself.  I am the rapper that didn’t make it.  I’m the artist who paid my dues in the studio; invested in recording equipment; sold tee shirts to promote my label, P.O.T.U.S. (Products of the Urban Streets); and the performer for some of the grittiest audiences known to make a rapper become a M.C. 

My passion for this art worked against me when a complete stranger sold 12 more strangers on the theory of my hip-hop image to be a viable reflection of a murderer.  The state of North Carolina knows me as, #0255136, but you can call me, MannofStat.

Why me? You might ask.  Well, you fan base is predominantly young white Americans.  A following that consists of future presidents, senators, governors, judges, and lawyers.  One way or another, these people are influenced by what you do on and off the stage.  These people are six degrees of separation from my grandchildren.  So you need to tighten up, my man.

If your lewd endeavors are a proverbial cry for help, then help yourself by reaching out to some grounded youngstas.  Conscious brothers like Kendrick Lamar and J-Cole can add balance to your life on and off the stage, simply through sharing their awareness of batons, Tasers and bullets. 

The profound understanding of the American dream through their life lenses may be the wake up call you need.  If not, you might end up reflecting on your life from inside of a concrete box, as if it was a Disney fairytale.  Ya heard?

Always 100,

Copyright © 2015 by Leroy Elwood Mann

Monday, June 15, 2015

12 Good Men


This summer, the Unit 3 death row housing unit will reach new heights of achievement.  Our very own drama class will perform their rendition of the classic play written by Reginald Rose, “Twelve Angry Men.”

The irony behind this feat is probably scrambling some brains and forcing the eyes of some viewers to do a double take.  But, I assure you my words are not a misprint.  

North Carolina’s death row is excelling through theater arts – dispelling the general stereotypes of men eclipsed by the cloud of reproof.

It is said that good men are hard to find.  When I look at this cast of men fighting to live, rehearsing their lines, and striving for the best results, the degree of pride I feel is similar to one family member attending another’s graduation ceremony.  I am really looking forward to this performance. 

The entertainment factor is secondary to the fathers involved, replenishing their legacies before the final act is written in stone.  Allowing their offspring to know that a good man may be no more than a letter, or a visit away.

In the spirit of Father’s Day, there is a cast of good men I would be honored to acknowledge: Mr. Julius Samuel, Mr. Leroy E. Mann, Sr., Mr. Dennis L. Wilson, Sr., Mr. Walter F. Williams, and Mr. Thomas L. Carter, were the producers of this art we know as life.  

They have moved on to the realm that knows no drama, but their contributions to our stage of living warrants the highest of moral reviews.  Rest in peace.

A heartfelt applause goes to the directors of today’s keys to life.  These men are the workers and doers that epitomize the title of this post: Mr. Elliot C. Dabney (Pops), I love you, Man.  

Mr. Eugene Brown, Mr. Peter Kuhns, Mr. Jewel Illis, Mr. Jonathan Hartgrove, Mr. Lamar Whidbee, and my son, Mr. Daveante E. Mann.  12 Good Men.

On this side of the wall that number continues to climb.  The fathers partaking in this upcoming display of art imitating life have to endure the frustration of living in the box while their children graduate, marry and honor them with grandchildren.  

Life on the row is no act – by far, but it cannot stop the progression of a good man.  “Twelve Angry Men” is just a play here on the row.  Happy Father’s Day!!

Much Love,

Copyright © 2015 by Leroy Elwood Mann

Sunday, June 7, 2015


 This post was originally scheduled for the week of May 17, 2015

“ I am under the belief that if I impact at least one child, that could provoke change in the rest of his family tree.”
Lamar Whidbee
Visual Artist


Running the stairs has become my latest cardio workout addiction.  Sixteen stairs of solid concrete, framed in penitentiary steel is my daily routine of climbing the hard times, en route to the best results.  I strongly believe anything in life worth reaching for should not be as effortless as an escalator ride toward the oblivion of life’s setbacks. 

In order for the upcoming generations to embrace this philosophy, the “Stairmasters” preceding them must show the way to a rigorous ascent.  This gesture could shorten the generational gap that has bred conflict amongst our people for far too long.

Steps 1-5:
Whether you’re educated or illiterate, whether you live on the boulevard or in the alley, you’re going to catch hell just like I am.”Malcom X

I have been working with Lamar Whidbee for over a year.  As I am sure you can see, his artwork is pure genius.  He has a distinctive way of capturing a moment.  During one of our Hidden Voices sessions, I witnessed a mere slice of his artistry when he sketched a portrait of one of my comrades in a 20-minute span. 

The fact that this particular muse was engaged in discussions and adjusting his seated position from time to time, was no match for the visionary equipped with a sheet of paper, a single pencil, and a desire to rehabilitate the image of someone deemed as a threat to society.

Steps 6-9:
It’s time for us to submerge our differences and realize that it is best for us to first see that we have the same problem, a common problem – political oppression economic exploitation, and social degradation.”Malcom X

Standing well over 6’4”, Lamar possesses a unique degree of humbleness.  Though he is much younger than me, we share the same enthusiasm for our beloved Hip-Hop culture.  And both of us understand the importance of young black males having strong, positive role models in their lives. 

“My father was at my first little league baseball game.  He taught me more about sports than my coaches.  He was the best man at my wedding, and he showed me how to be a man through example.”

Lamar speaks of his Dad with a great sense of pride.  I was impressed by his zeal to give back what has been given to him, through his devotion to mentoring kids.  This places Lamar in a position to alter the direction of a wayward child’s path toward suspension, self-destruction, and possibly death. 

Lamar exhibits the natural tools to change what most people only discuss; a societal thermostat in the truest sense: “I discuss prison pregnancy, addiction, and every thing required to keep them from being gullible in the real world.” That’s what’s up!

Lamar once used the Chinese culture as a metaphor to describe his reasoning behind his close association with death row prisoners.  He said gorging on Chinese food does not bring a person any closer to the authenticity of Chinese culture.  You would have to go to China to learn the real. 

After hearing and reading so much about the flaws in capital punishment and the unruly lives to be annihilated by its practice.  Lamar has chosen to make the journey into Unit 3’s “death house,” in order to know the real about a lively culture intent on making a positive difference for the up and coming generations.

Steps 10-13:
Instead of wasting all this energy fighting each other we should be working in unity…” Malcom X
Without question, the late, great Malcom X was a “Stairmaster” in his own right.  

The steps throughout this article are emblematic of the hard times within his own life and the words that spawned future generations efforts to learn from history and climb higher. 

Asante sana for laying the foundation to rise above any circumstance.  Elevating our mental-state to reach the top of life’s proverbial stairs, where a cloud of collective consciousness awaits, and prosperity is infinite.  Happy Born Day my Brother!

Steps 14-16:
“I try to expose children to things beyond their normal environment so that they can make, and have a choice like I did.  Due to the fact that I am trying to impact young males, I have to visually be what I speak.  I have to live to the best of my ability to expect that from them.  I became a mentor because I would always hear people speak on the issues within our schools and communities, but not one would step in to make a change.”
Lamar Whidbee
Visual Artist

The obvious difference between a thermostat and a thermometer: One changes the environment, the other simply tells you what you feel you already know.  This is our rise to the top!

Nuff said,

Copyright © 2015 by Leroy Elwood Mann