August 16, 1938 – June 19, 2007
Although he has passed away, Brother Wesley’s profile remains a powerful testament to man’s ability to improve his own life and to embrace redemptive service to others.
Brother Wesley came to RAP some 20 years ago as a client. He later went to school to become a Certified Addictions Counselor (CAC) and worked with us as a counselor for the past 11 years. He made a tremendous contribution to the organization. For example, he used his experience as a former prison inmate to help sharpen our services for court-mandated clients and played a major role in developing our deinstitutionalization module. Also, he used his journey as a vegetarian to help teach others the value of a healthful diet. Brother Wesley was highly respected, well loved, and remains a shining light for us all. We will miss him.Brother Wesley’s journey in his own words…It was not until I was sent to RAP,Inc. Substance Abuse Program some 20 years ago, through the court system, that I came face-to-face with myself and discovered just who I was. Prior to then, I was on record as having 87 arrests and some 87 convictions.One of the first things I learned as a resident of RAP was its philosophy:
“As a community, we are united in our Struggle. We say “yes “to life and no to things which threaten to destroy us. Today we move toward a lifestyle of human values based on love, governed by honesty, and secured by trust. No longer do we stand alone. We must be open as the air, with the will to survive, the will to learn, and the will to create. We are a creative force motivated by each other. For the will of the people is the greatest force conceivable.”
Additional unique exposures provided by RAP during my treatment process were learning a new value system based on African centered treatment and learning to live by the following Rules of Discipline:
- Always be a servant of the people
- Always guide and protect the children
- Do not take liberties with the women or the men
- No involvement in physical violence or swearing at the people
- Do not take a single needle or thread from the people
- Pay fairly for what you buy
- Return everything you borrow
- Turn in everything that you find
- Be held accountable for your mistakes
- Do not damage property
- Speak politely
I was born in Nash County, North Carolina. However, I know nothing about my birthplace because my parents moved from there when I was very young–six months old. They relocated to a small town named Emporia, Virginia. At the age of 13, we moved to the Big City, Washington, D.C. Moving to Washington was the worst thing they could have done as far as I’m concerned. I was already into deviant behavior and I became Washington, DC”nized. I’ve lived in this city ever since. (Correction: I must, if I’m to be honest, include having lived in and out of jails, reformatories and penitentiaries—all over the world).
Like most fortunate children, I was born healthy, normal, and nurtured with that special and sacred love that only a mother/father can give. They were as devoted to my sister and me as the morning dew on a mother’s grave.
In addition to this love, my sister and I were provided all those fundamental things which make’s a child’s life wonderful, happy, meaningful and worth while living. Until the day my parents “passed away”, I’d always told them that I felt they loved me too much.
Because of the lifestyle I’d already chartered out for myself, I felt undeserving of their manifested, unconditional love for me. Even today, right at this very moment, as I look back at my past wretched life (life?) and recall the many times I’ve disappointed and hurt them, I feel the need to cry. But I can’t right now, for I’m still going through a process of trying to get back in touch with my feelings, my humanity.
Many years ago, while going in and out of prisons, I lost my natural feelings, sentiments and compassion. Someday, somehow, someway, I know I’ll recover these God-given qualities, although it will be done in a conflict that can’t be told in words.
During my early, formative years in Emporia, I developed a serious behavioral/attitudinal problem -- a problem that began when I was around 9 or 10. Somehow, during that time, I started, lying, cheating, fighting, not attending school, disrespecting classmates, school teachers, and hanging out with shady people, in shady places, doing shady things. I became so disobedient and rebellious that my friends, relatives, school teachers – even my parents, found it difficult to understand and accept me. Doing what was right, I found repugnant,unattractive, and disgusting. Simply put, I became attracted to any and all things considered out of the ordinary, finding sheer comfort in everything that was totally opposite of what was right.
Such distorted perceptions, thinking and behavior were to become my lifestyle into my adult years – a lifestyle I would justify and defend at the expense of so many beautiful people, even to the death.
Today, what I do know, without a shadow of doubt: I made the choice and decision to live my life the way I lived it. I also know, today, that no one is responsible for ME but ME; and that my recovery from a lifetime of perverted thinking, crime and institutions, saved ME from MYSELF.