The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Features

March 5, 2012

‘From Prison To PH.D.’

Professor details rough childhood, homelessness, incarceration before Momentum, others at SCC

Monday, March 5, 2012 — Momentum, the Stanly Community College (SCC) Men of Color Mentoring Program, and the student government association welcomed guest speaker Dr. Nkrumah Lewis on Wednesday.

At noon Andell McCoy, counselor and coordinator of Momentum at SCC, opened up the lecture by explaining why there is a Men of Color Mentoring Program.

She then turned the event over to Lewis.

Lewis began by talking about his childhood and the abuse that he received from his father. Lewis’ youngest memories are of his father hitting him and beating his mother. He also remembers his father punching him in the face at the dinner table and calling him ugly.

One day when Lewis’ mom was being beaten he snuck away and called the police. When the police arrived his father stepped out onto the porch and the police left. At that time Lewis knew his father was the preacher, but he was unaware that he was also the magistrate.

At one point he went to a trusted teacher. The teacher quickly took him to the school’s resource officer. The officer knew who his father was so Lewis gave up on telling him.

Lewis recalled lying in bed at night listening to his mother being beat and talking to his younger brother about ways to kill his father. Lewis had gotten in trouble so his father picked up a fire poker and hit him in the back of the head with it. Lewis decided at that moment to fight back. At that point his father kicked him out of the house. He was 16 years old.

Being a homeless 16-year-old, Lewis began hanging out in a gang. Lewis spent most of his time sleeping in cars, breaking into houses that were under construction and hanging out in the projects. Desperate to have money, he started selling powder cocaine and heroin.

The gang started robbing people and shooting at the police. Lewis even witnessed a fellow gang member kill himself. Not everything in Lewis’ life was bad. At 17 he graduated from high school with honors and then joined the Marines. When he graduated from boot camp, his parents showed up and all he could think about was how much he wanted to kill his father.

Lewis was stationed at Camp Lejeune and was then arrested after being accused of killing a man in Kinston. Lewis explained the process of being arrested and the humiliation he felt.

“There is nothing manly about prison and having to spread your cheeks for another man to check for weapons,” Lewis said before a packed auditorium at SCC.

Held in a maximum security prison, on one side of his cell was a man who had killed a lot of children and on the other side was a man that had caught his wife cheating, killed her and beheaded his best friend.

He recalled the sounds that he heard while in prison.

During his stay in prison, many of the inmates passed Lewis books and he was able to apply to college.

After a ballistics test proved he was innocent in the shooting he was released from the prison. After being released he still faced charges of robbery in four different counties. He had to face 65 charges in Orange County alone. His cousin took full responsibility on many of the charges because Lewis had a baby on the way and he had gotten into college.

By the time Lewis was done facing the charges, his son had been born. He asked the mother of his child if he could have custody and she agreed. In the fall of that year he started college at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His son lived with him in the residence halls on campus.

Lewis, now a sociology professor at Winston-Salem State University, discusses all of these topics in his novel “Becoming a Bufferfly: From Prison to PhD.”

Lewis believes this novel is about forgiving.

“Sometimes you have to be the bigger person, so that you can have closure,” Lewis said.

Lewis continues to talk to churches, civic organizations, schools and prisons to deliver his mission. He believes it is his destiny to help others.

“There are so many things in society that bother me. Ph.D. isn’t the end for me. If someone is in a gang or being abused, then there is still something for me to do,” Lewis said.  

The novel can be purchased online or in most bookstores. Lewis said his book is written in the stages of a butterfly and how a person transforms. Lewis also explained how he doesn’t hold anything back in the book.

“This book is me being naked for everybody.”

1
Text Only
Features
  • Can black women have it all?

    In a powerful new essay for the National Journal, my friend Michel Martin makes a compelling case for why we need to continue the having-it-all conversation.

    July 29, 2014

  • This Weekend in Stanly County

    After a week at work, weekends are a good time to get out into the fresh air on these long, balmy summer days. Stanly County offers plenty of places for you to do just that.

    July 29, 2014

  • Ruth Moose Author inks book deal from 26-year-old draft

    After 26 years tucked away in a drawer, one might think the story had grown stale, that it had sat in the dark too long to be revived into something palatable.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Uwharrie Players No. 1 Anyone know whodunit?

    So whodunit?
    Forget Col. Mustard, the library and the candlestick, this time it was the drama student in the Jesse F. Niven Center with the bottle of poison.
    At this year’s Uwharrie Players Drama Camp, campers took the stage not just to act, but to figure out who poisoned Gladdis, the talent scout.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • Kudzu Quiche A Bonus in Study of Invasive Species

    High School students who chose to study invasive species during their week at the National Environmental Summit at Catawba College probably didn't think they'd be baking a kudzu quiche. But they did, and they served it, along with other kudzu creations, at the final festival.

    July 19, 2014

  • Pottery No. 1 Wheel of Clay

    Rome wasn’t built in a day and a potter wasn’t made in one either, Seagrove potter Sid Luck, 69, said at his pottery class at the Niven’s Center Tuesday.

    July 15, 2014 3 Photos

  • Archie Smith Psaltery Sounds

    About two years ago, Archie Smith got into an argument with his table saw.
    As he says, the table saw won.

    June 30, 2014 3 Photos

  • P1160049_zps0528ec83.jpg Jammin' at Junior's

    Benjamin Franklin once wrote: “ … in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” If Franklin was alive today in western Stanly County, he would need to amend his statement to include “and Friday night jam sessions at Junior Harris’.”

    June 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • KelliePickler_TheWomanIAm_LPCover.png Kellie Pickler set to release album with limited edition vinyl pressing

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Black River Entertainment announced the release of a limited edition vinyl version of country music singer/songwriter Kellie Pickler’s critically-acclaimed current album, The Woman I Am.  This is the first vinyl album for Kellie Pickler, and it features exclusive cover art, different from the CD version.

    June 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • wedding (12 of 21).tif Fairy Tales Can Come True

    Once upon a time in Stanfield a little girl was born, but experienced problems during her delivery. Five years earlier, a little boy was born in Georgia with similar complications. Both suffered a brain bleed during child birth and had ventricular shunts placed in their heads.

    June 16, 2014 3 Photos

House Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Featured Comment
Twitter Updates
Seasonal Content
Poll

Will you participate in March Madness?

Yes I watch the games and complete a bracket.
Yes I complete a bracket.
No
     View Results