755. From Convicted Felon to Community Activist and Mentor
“We have become products of our environment and our culture and are not really living up to our expectations of who we are supposed to be. A lot of us do not dig deep enough to understand what value we hold, you know, innately. And that is some of the things I found out about myself when I was in prison, just trying to meditate and focus on who did I become and what potential I may have to become even better….”
Will Little grew up in the inner city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in a broken home with a mother and four sisters. Growing up poor and fatherless he ventured out onto the streets as a teenager—robbing, stealing, selling drugs and carrying guns until he killed a young man in a shootout. At 19 years of age Will was charged and sentenced to 20 years in prison. During his incarceration, he made a conscious choice to change his life around after his son was born nine months after he was arrested. After 10 years, Will was released to the same community where he grew up and became a community activist, mentor and life coach.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“My son was born while I was in the state prison waiting for my trial. I had always wanted a son, and was grateful for his birth while burdened by my circumstances facing possible life imprisonment for my crime. I knew I needed to change my thinking, needed to educate myself so that I could help him avoid the pitfalls that had plagued my early life and led me into a life of crime. So, I focused on taking courses to get my GED and started a process of introspection on my life, began healing myself and finding a place of forgiveness for my father, my mother and myself.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“When I was 19 my friend was brutally murdered in a gang fight and I was crushed by that because I had known him since I was a kid, and he was a funny and kind guy, not involved in some of the heavy drug dealing and stealing that the rest of us were. It was a big loss. Shortly after he died, my buddies and I were attacked by a rival gang who opened fire on us. I responded with gunfire and one of my bullets hit a young man and killed him. That tragic event led to my conviction and 10 years of confinement in a federal prison.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“Growing up, even though I opted into a life of crime because I could find no other choices at the time, I was guided by basic values—treating people with respect, helping out the older neighbors on the block with their trash. I also had to learn tenacity and courage due to the conditions in my family with no father to guide me, dropping out of high school, then learning how to fend for myself in a very rough and dangerous environment on the streets in my neighborhood.”
Steps to Success from Will Little
1. Don’t react to your life, be proactive: figure out what your talents are, what your higher purpose is.
2. Be reflective, learn to meditate and listen to those feelings and thoughts that are at the core of who you really are.
3. Know that you can always reinvent yourself, as you grow and learn and are exposed to opportunities and choices that come your way.
4. Make forgiveness—first of yourself, then those closest to you—a driving value.
On His Bookshelf
ICY—Inner City Youth: The Life and Times of Will Little, by Will Little
Connecting With Will Little
Your website: www.willvlittle.com
Your Facebook: Will latif little
Your LinkedIn: Will little
Your Instagram: Mrpoetrynmotion
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