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Episode 54: Tessie Castillo and George Wilkerson-- "Crimson Letters"

The Social Exchange

Release Date: 04/08/2020

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The Social Exchange

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Welcome to episode 54!

There are two guests on today’s show. My first guest is Tessie Castillo.

Tessie is a journalist and an author from Raleigh North Carolina.  Her new book is called "Crimson Letters, Voices From Death Row." 

In 2014, Tessie volunteered to teach a writing class to death row inmates at North Carolina’s Central Prison. She treasured the experience, as she learned to respect and understand these inmates-- her students-- as human beings.  As people, with a story to tell, and people with the capacity to grow, and to make positive contributions to society. 

But she found the prison system to be oppressive— unable and unwilling to give some of these men the chance to live to their full potential. 

She wrote an op-ed to this effect to her local paper, and when it was published, she was swiftly banned from doing volunteer work at any North Carolina Prisons. 

Eventually, Tessie— along with a group of four death-row inmates with whom she’d developed a working relationship— collaborated on this new book.

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Also joining me today is one of Tessie’s co-authors, George Wilkerson. George called in from the prison and offered me a window into the story of his past as well as his ideas about writing, growth, friendship, and life. 

Despite being on the inside of the prison, George is an accomplished writer and an award-winning artist (see below). 

Enjoy episode 54!  

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Learn more about Tessie Castillo and the new book: https://tessiecastillo.com/

Check out George Wilkerson's art: http://www.windowsondeathrow.com/incarceratedart#/george-t-wilkerson

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