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Locked Apart

By Charles Boyd

December 7, 2019


We members and friends of Let’s Circle Up have participated in many circles, a way that indigenous people gathered to make important decisions or to resolve conflict. On this beautiful sunny day in September, Felix Rosado and I are exiting the Deputies’ Complex in the Graterford State Correctional Center (now closed).

We are both feeling really good about seeing another LCU project implemented well. On this day we had participated in a filming. It was part of a Prison Today Exhibit being featured in an Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site. It was titled “Locked Apart; The Impact of Incarceration on Families.”

Though the experience of the Let’s Circle Up Steering committee being filmed in a circle responding to prompts –i.e. name, where I’m from, how much time I’ve served, on what type of sentence, and how we are involved in LCU (what our roles are in LCU) was great….no one knew about the preparation leading up to the filming. It started that morning about 9. Members of LCU gathered to brainstorm and plan how we would participate in this event. We decided there to do a circle. Felix volunteered to be the Circle keeper. We each took turns sharing about a family member who had been impacted by our incarceration. Wow! It was so powerful. One of our members had just lost his mother, another was still grieving his mother’s passing fifteen years earlier. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as we sat there sharing stories and often pausing to console one another before we could move on to the next member. It was a good thing we had met before the actual filming, because otherwise we may not have experienced such a powerful opportunity to share our pain, remorse, empathy and redemption with the many tourists who’d be visiting Eastern State Penitentiary.

--Charles believes his purpose is to leave the world one day and the people he encounters in a better place. He is respectful of al life and seeks to be an asset to whatever community he is planted in.

He is a bit of a contemplative and leans heavily on the wisdom of his ancestors. He is committed to living a life of service and paying it forward. He is cofounder of Let’s Circle Up, and has felt from its beginning that LCU’s strength lies within its ability to connect people. He believes it also contributes to our personal and collective sense of agency.


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