2-2-Attitude and Aspiration
Despite the challenges of Halim’s backstory, he had an attitude of self-empowerment. He didn’t like the backstory of illiteracy, poverty, drug abuse, and a pipeline that would carry children from school playgrounds to the penitentiary. Rather than complain, he found a way to write a new chapter in his life story. He wanted to make a difference that would lead to a better community.
Halim coined a phrase:
“Love is the antidote.”
As he moved through his sentence, he developed his mind and understanding of the world by reading. Through reading, he trained himself to become a better communicator. He learned to put words into sentences, and sentences into paragraphs. Over time, he authored several books, including:
- A Reason to Breathe
- Mind Over Matter
- What our Fathers Never Told Us
- Makings of a Menace
- Buried Alive
- Time: How to Do it and Not Let it Do You
- For Young Offenders
- Be Great Wherever You Are
- Niggernomics: What Blacks Must Know about Money
- A Reason to Breathe
Knowing the importance of using many mediums to communicate, he also taught himself how to paint.
With words and pictures, Halim worked to help others see the pain that comes when society shackles a boy’s soul in chains. Despite living in cages, as years turned into decades, knowing that he did not have a release date, he learned to master the use of words and pictures. By communicating, he could take steps that would lead to liberty. He wrote books and converted ideas into images, transcending prison boundaries, influencing others to believe in him.
Mechanisms didn’t exist to change his life sentence. Yet Halim’s attitude gave him the fuel to keep working toward his aspirations. In time, he wanted to make a difference. Through his work, he could contribute to ending intergenerational cycles of poverty.
Like Mahatma Gandhi, Halim Flowers aspired to live as the change that he wanted to see. He gives us an example of what it means to live with the audacity of hope, believing that with the right attitude, he could be more than the label of “super predator” that society had bestowed upon him when he was only a boy.
He made a 100% commitment to that end.
Leaders inspired him.
But inspiration without actions is fantasy. Halim gives us an example of excellence. If a person has the right attitude, and if a person aspires toward the best outcome, perseverance and commitment can bend the arc toward justice.
By the time Halim served 22 years, the law changed. Those changes allowed a federal judge to take another look at injustice. The judge agreed that, based on Halim’s extraordinary and compelling adjustment, a double-life sentence no longer served the interests of justice.
In 2019, after 22 years in prison, Halim returned to court. During the second hearing, he walked out of the courtroom to begin his life as a successful artist, writer, and activist.
Write responses to the following questions in approximately ten minutes. If participating in a class setting, discuss verbally.
2-4: What role would you say that Halim’s attitude at the start of his sentence had on his eventual release?
2-5: In what ways would you say that Halim’s aspiration fueled his adjustment?
2-6: In what ways could a story like Halim’s influence your preparation for sentencing?