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Welcome Message from New National Director, Tray Johns!

Dear Members,

Aloha and Greetings to you all, I would like to formally introduce myself. I am Tray Johns (pronouns, she, her, him, he, they, or just tray), the new National Director for Black & Pink. First off, let me express how humble I am to accept this enormous responsibility and immediately give you the reassurances that I fully intend to carry on Jason’s vision and make Black & Pink everything Jason continues to dream of. I am in awe of this man. I love him and his beautiful spirit and his amazing partner Johannes, so don’t fret: they will always be with Black & Pink because I refuse to let him go.

I’m 42 years old, born and raised on the south side of Chicago at the height of the crack epidemic, 1985- 1995. During those years, crack destroyed my family, but not me. I joined the Navy and got out, but the streets always found a way back in me. No matter where I lived, when the going gets rough for Tray the south side of Chicago gonna come out and I’m gonna make it. I was 21 raising five children, the streets took my sister, by 27 I had eight kids under 12, prison took my brother, and I was left with all the kids.

On May 10th, 2003, I graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with my Bachelors degree in Administration of Justice and made the Deans List with eight kids. Then, five days later, I was sentenced to 151 months in federal prison for 9.7 grams of crack cocaine. I served eight years, seven months, and 19 days for less than $500 worth of drugs. I became a jailhouse lawyer, I helped my sisters, I got “transferred” from Greenville, IL, to Hazelton, WV, to Waseca, MN, to Pekin IL, to Danbury, CT. Because I believe in the almighty administrative remedy and the tort claim. So I wasn’t the most compliant prisoner. I once told a warden, “Growing up I have not once told myself I wanted to be the best inmate I could be, that wasn’t in the plan, so don’t think you are gonna get it from me. If you can’t handle me, send me home.” I got “transferred” for a head count.

I have been home for six years, albeit I was sent back for four months in 2015 for leaving the district without permission, when my mother had a stroke in Chicago and I drove five hours to the hospital and called my PO “an hour after I already left.” My second year home

I was making $65,000 a year as an engineer for Continental Tires. By my fourth year out I was knee deep in Can-Do Clemency advocacy for the White House Clemency Project 2014. Many of you may have heard of it.

My rallying cry has been and will always be #freeTyniceHall. She is my prison daughter and friend and I have been slacking in keeping up but I will fight for her until she is home. I will fight against the prison- industrial complex, until it’s destroyed. I don’t give up. In 2016, I traveled to 125 cities, went to the White House three times, was arrested at the White House by the Secret Service. Went to the Department of Justice, organized a rally and march

for Lashonda Hall in Knoxville, TN. My sisters Karen Davis, Lenora Logan, Mackese Speight, and Bernetta Willis, and my brothers Aaron Brooks, James Ortega, and Lawrence

McCarroll—I have fought the good fight for them, and I will never give up. I have spoke at law schools and corner churches, crisscrossed this country, sleeping in my car, tired, broke and determined. I bring that same perseverance and determination to Black & Pink.

I met my wife in 2009 in prison Waseca, MN, I left her in 2010, I came home in 2011, and when she walked out those doors in December 2016, I was standing right there in the airport and we moved to Hawaii with one suitcase and $200 so she would never be alone again. I bring that dedication to Black & Pink.

While Black & Pink is going through this huge transition, I am recently married and am moving my wife, Foxxy, from Hawaii to Boston and dealing with probation. I would ask for your continued support— this organization is nothing without its volunteers. I have a dream opportunity here, and amazing work is already being done throughout the country in the prisons and out.

Our chapters came together at the National Gathering in August and put together the future of Black & Pink and they were simply brilliant— ideas flowed, the conversation was like we had known each other for years, and I was able to capture and see the passion that these volunteers have for this work and feel encouraged that when I officially join the team this train ain’t even slowing down. I applaud every last one of you. I thank you and I look forward to your guidance and your patience as I take on this task and align our visions to destroy the prison-industrial complex in our lifetime.

I look to hearing your feedback.

Yours truly,
Tray “Rock” Johns

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