By Keith ‘Kiko’ Robinson
On June 26, 2016, inmates at United States Penitentiary Lee County, A maximum security Federal Prison located in Jonesville, Virginia, witness and partook in the first official book signing.
The event was coordinated by inmate Fredrick Singleton who organized the book signing outside on the institutions recreation yard. During the 1:00 pm rec move, inmates of different racial backgrounds, different parts of the country and different affiliations came out carrying copies of a popular novel titled: “Loves…Gun” by Demond A. Jackson, who is also known as ‘D-jay’ and is also an inmate at USP Lee.
Singleton couldn’t have picked a better day, for the event. The weather was beautiful on this hot summer afternoon. The crowd gathered around a small table on the rec yard as D-jay sat surrounded by them, signing autographs, answering questions, and took pictures with those who purchased the book. About 20-30 minutes later, the crowd around the small table had grown pretty big, to the point that I became personally amazed at the sight itself; it was as though a celebrity had just walked up in a park and then moments later a crowd appeared with books in tow, smiling, shaking hands, dap, and showing him mad love. What really caught me by surprise while watching the event, D-jay is the first person to ever pull off a book signing inside a United States Penitentiary. And he did with so much humility and respect. Wow! I had to tip my hat hat to the Brutha for making history.
After signing autographs, speaking on the book, giving advice and explaining what inspired him to write such a unique and powerful novel, D-jay was ushered off toward the camera man by Singleton with the crowd in tow. It was time to start taking pictures with every person that purchased his book. I thought that was real grateful of him. Now there goes a guy that’s destined for big things in life.
While the camera man snapped pictures, one inmate, Hakeem Currie, who also purchased D-jay’s novel stated: “I’m proud of D-jay man. He’s done what a lot of dudes around here claim to be doing… I hear it all the time ‘Hak, I’m writing my life story; a movie script about this or that!’ But at the end of the day, they’re just talking. But not D-jay. He wrote a book, published it and he’s pushing his book on his own!” He smiled toward D-jay and then continued. “This book tells a story that many a men even myself have experience and personally can relate to, you know…stories that have never been told. And you know this book has to be good if its got me standing out here for 2 hours in 90 degree heat!” He states chuckling. “I ain’t never seen nothing like this…but I’ve got to admit, I don’t think anyone else on this yard would’ve pulled this off or would of even tried ” He threw up opened hands, with a proud smile, looking directly at D-jay who was now smiling for the camera man with one of the guys who bought his book.
As I moved along from Hakeem and mingled with a few others, I couldn’t help but notice that nearly all the guys that perused D-jays book shared the same sentiments: They really loved the book! What shocked me was… not one inmate had anything bad to say about it. And we al know how judgmental an inmate can be–really cynical! Okay?… 🙂
Finally, as the book signing came to an end, D-jay shook hands with the crowd again, thanked them and then inspired many amongst them with the following words before his departure: “Hard work won’t guarantee you a thing, but without it, you don’t stand a chance!”