Voices of Fortune: Social Justice Through Creativity

Voices of Fortune: Social Justice Through Creativity


At Fortune, we understand the power that creativity has to transform individual lives and ignite change across the social justice landscape. In fact, our own story began from a creative work.

The Off-Broadway play Fortune and Men’s Eyes was produced by our founder, David Rothenberg, who was inspired by its subject matter to make a tangible difference in the lives of individuals with justice involvement. Today, 50-plus years later, creativity continues to take center stage in the holistic services we provide.

In our Creative Arts program, participants find release through poetry, short stories, drawings, and more. Select pieces from their artistic output is compiled into Voices of Fortune, our creative arts annual publication. Art from individuals who are currently incarcerated are also included, adding welcome nuance to this collection of works from people impacted by a criminal justice system in need of reform.

Inside these pages are words of conscious self-confidence:

“My beautiful complexion is my / essence / and they don’t like when I manifest it / cause this right here has been passed / down from / my descendants.” – from I’m Labeled a Menace… by Miguel Alverio


Words of forgiveness:

“I forgive myself for failing achieve the dream of being architect via ink / flourishes precipitated by fluid movement of wrist owned in conviction,” – from I Can’t Surrender by Feliz Guzman


Expressions of pressure:

“Too much thoughts at once / Too much to bear with / Too much adults that act like children / Too much talk with very little heart” – from Too Much by Bryan G.


And expressions of pleasure:

“Love is wonderful and quite serene, / you’ll be in such a sexy scene. / Especially when you’re in love with a Black goddess / To stay in love, you’ll do the hardest” – from Love by Curtis Holden


Daily, participants find new versions of themselves at Fortune. They learn to embody unique individuals with potential to thrive. And through art, they discover that they are capable of creating and becoming masterpieces worth protecting.

Artwork by The Fortune Society participant Na'Ashlie Wright
Artwork by participant Na’Ashlie Wright


Artwork by The Fortune Society participant Deron Cook
Artwork by participant Deron Cook


Artwork by The Fortune Society participant Donald McBride
Artwork by participant Donald McBride


As people directly affected by our justice system, Fortune participants also learn to become influencers of change. They boldly offer sharp critique through their words, in the hopes of both advancing reform and deterring others from walking down negative paths:

“Voices of Victims, / unheard in the dungeons of prisons throughout the world, mumbling for release / from the chains of oppression,” – from Hearken to Hear by H. Harris


“I am my own projects / I am from that environment / Don’t suit me to be evil / You criminalizing me for your standards / Force accusations / Lawyers testifying for me like I can’t speak” – from Don’t Play Me Like I’m Not Intelligent by Ireal K. Jacobs


“Less distractions, more actions / Less pollution & less excuses / More fight for a better bite / More strength to reach farther length” – from Reverse Hypnotism by Joshua Janson


With each line of poetry and song lyric, finished prose sentence or layer of paint, Fortune participants find strength and healing. Download the full issue of Voices of Fortune, then support our efforts to build creative paths to hope for individuals with justice involvement and reimagine social justice.

Don’t miss stories like this—Subscribe to the Fortune Weekly today.

*Article by David Leon Morgan

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