BY CORTEZ DAVIS EL
VOD Staff Writer
Jan. 1, 2018
The men at the Thumb Correctional Facility began the annual Kwanzaa Cultural Celebration early this year. They were blessed with the presence of the Honorable Judge Bruce Morrow and Frank Murphy Hall of Justice General Counselor, Attorney Valerie Albright.
Attending this event was a must for so many men that cling to the hope and promise of what tomorrow might bring. Listening to a judge speak and share words of wisdom and encouragement while fighting for your freedom is rare, but welcomed.
Without knowing who Judge Morrow is, one would believe that he was a super star from the warm reception that he received. There was laughter and nonstop smiles of joy throughout the evening and the days that followed. Before Judge Morrow got into his message, he introduced the men to the Beautiful Spirited Angel, Valerie Albright.
Mrs. Albright’s message, although short and sweet, was deeply felt and it hit home for many. She is a reminder of the joy that is absent and the joy that is possible. Mrs. Albright reflected on her two year old son and stated “the same light that I see in him, I see in the eyes of the men here. ”
That statement ignited a sense of urgency in the hearts and minds of all that paid attention to the compliment. Her words were like being touched by an angel. To a degree, you felt healed and energized and ready to be the change that is needed in the world.
Judge Morrow once again took the podium and began to share his message. He made listening fun. He started by showing various images of well-known products. The men were happy to share their knowledge and ability to identify each product. However, the message was really about what you see and how you are seen by others. The men engaged Judge Morrow and as a result the mind was opened and the desire to think was unlocked.
The Honorable Bruce Morrow opened up about who he is and what his 26 years of service has been about. He left no doubt that he is a reflection of the spirit of God and serves His people by the service that he gives on and off the bench. The first principle of Kwanzaa is Umoja which means unity. Both Judge Morrow and Attorney Valerie Albright helped us to understand what it means to have unity and why unity is important.
Judge Morrow stated ” content and context is always important ” and this was felt deeply especially when our superstar and in that moment, the voice of God, read from Genesis 24 to remind us that true and lasting unity begin with unifying with God first. When most people that are incarcerated think about judges, they tend not to think of them as human. Judges are most often seen as the enemy or the cause and effect of the problems in the lives of the incarcerated.
However, being up close and personal with Judge Morrow and being able to speak freely and embrace him as if he was a long lost friend, relative, or neighbor allowed us to see him as someone that feel, love, and worship just like us. The prisoners were able to see him, the man not just the judge. There was no fear or negativity displayed in Judge Morrow. There was only the reflection of spirit of man helping the hopeless restore that which was lost, their faith.
Having this honorable judge in the midst did more for the self esteem and morale boost than one could ever have hoped for. Being able to witness and feel the energy of this event was nothing short of mind blowing and the men are grateful to have someone that takes an active interest in their positive development the way that Judge Morrow does.
Judge Morrow gave honors to the men that are changing their lives for the better in spite of the environment and circumstances that we are. It felt really humbling to have someone, a judge nonetheless, actually see who we are today, opposed to who we were yesterday.
I could not help but to think about another great judge that that took an interest in the positive development of a prisoner that lost his way early in life. The Honorable Judge Vera Massey Jones touched this writer’s soul and is partially responsible for the man that I am today. She saw beneath the rock soil of my carnal nature and saw my value long before I knew that good is in my power.
This is also what Judge Morrow is doing for the prisoners that look at him as family. To judges like The Honorable Bruce Morrow and Vera Massey Jones and to attorneys like Valerie Albright, thank you for your strength, support, and concerns. You will never be forgotten and your message will always inspire greatness in the lives that you’ve touched. Just like you all are able to see the true essence of who we are, we are now able to see it for ourselves and recognize it in others just as you do. Thank you all for being the message that you bring and for being a real inspiration to so many that is now able to see the path of wisdom.