Oblong Online: Ian Manuel, "My Time Will Come," in conversation with Joseph Williams

Event date: 
Thursday, May 13, 2021 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
EST. via Crowdcast

Presented in partnership with the Bard Prison Initiative

Your purchase of a book helps support the author and our independent bookstore and is greatly appreciated. A percentage of proceeds from sales of "My Time Will Come" at this event will go to support Bard Prison Initiative. Shipping or contactless curbside pickup available.

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At fourteen author Ian Manuel was sentenced to life in prison without parole where he subsequently spent eighteen years in solitary confinement. At this event, Ian will talk candidly with Bard Prison Initiative Alum, Joseph Williams about how he endured the brutality of the United States prison system and how his victim ultimately forgave him and advocated for his freedom.

Ian ManuelMy Time Will Come by Ian ManuelJoseph Williams

L to R: Ian Manuel, My Time Will Come, Joseph Williams

The United States is the only country in the world that sentences thirteen- and fourteen-year-old offenders, mostly youth of color, to life in prison without parole, regardless of the scientifically proven singularities of the developing adolescent brain—a heinous wrinkle in the scandal of mass incarceration. Manuel’s powerful memoir is a testimony of his growing up homeless in Central Park Village in Tampa, Florida—a neighborhood riddled with poverty, gang violence, and drug abuse—and of his efforts to rise above his circumstances, only to find himself, partly through his own actions, imprisoned for two-thirds of his life, eighteen years of which were spent in solitary confinement. Manuel now lives in New York City, where he is a motivational speaker at schools and social organizations nationwide.

“My story has been told many times and by highly regarded experts in their fields—judges, prosecutors, juvenile probation officers, sociologists, journalists. But I would like to try to tell it to you myself. I have reason to believe the experts may be wrong about me. You see, today, thirty years later, I am neither in prison nor dead.” —from My Time Will Come 

Joseph Williams was raised by a single mother in Brooklyn. After attending multiple schools he got his GED at age sixteen, but in 1998 was arrested and sentenced to four years in prison in New Jersey. Despite his travails, Joseph’s mother had instilled in him a strong desire to continue his education, and he began a college program while in prison. After being released and then reincarcerated in 2003, he doubled down on his pursuit of higher education and in 2007, enrolled in the Bard Prison Initiative at Eastern Correctional Facility. He received his Associate’s Degree in 2011 and then Bachelor’s Degree in 2013. He earned his LMSW in 2015 and has worked as a social worker in the criminal justice, high school, and psychiatric fields. Today, Joseph works at the Mt. Sinai Morningside Psychiatric Emergency Department, and as the Program Coordinator of the My Brother’s Keeper program in Martin Van Buren high school, providing Social-Emotional Learning and Success Mentoring to students. Joseph has recently passed his LCSW Clinical Social Worker licensing exam, and now has plans to pursue his Doctorate in Social Work.