It was my first semester in law school — Fall 2010. In the first month of my new journey, I was eager to get my hands on whatever I could — different student organization meetings and listening to various speakers. I was an absorbent sponge — eager to learn.
The first year of law school was more or less a blur — so the pivotal, memorable moments that one retains means one thing: they made an impact.
My friend and fellow community organizer, Jonah Minkoff-Zern, was a 3L at Golden Gate University when I had just started. He helped to organize an event that featured Dorsey Nunn, an ex-offender who became the Executive Director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. His visit to GGU was the only public speaker I vividly remember from that first semester.
Dorsey was one of the most dynamic public speakers I’ve ever seen. He spoke with such an intense conviction about his work around prisons – perhaps because Dorsey had formerly been a prisoner himself.
Dorsey was sentenced to life in the California Department of Corrections at San Quentin under the felony murder rule in 1971 at the age of 19. He was discharged from parole in 1984.
Dorsey could have chosen to live the rest of his time on Earth with an understandable chip on his shoulder; soldiering on with daily life. But instead — he decided to rise up. And give back.
After being released from prison, he began to serve his community ever since. He first started a drug and alcohol rehab center and eventually became a public interest lawyer, and he presently serves as the Executive Director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.
One of Dorsey’s most recent projects included mediating the Pelican Bay Prisoner on Hunger Strike last year — many of the inmates were in solitary confinement for up to 22 1/2 hours a day. Dorsey was able to use his own personal experience within the California Department of Corrections to be a successful mediator to help jumpstart more discussion for better conditions for inmates.
Despite all the trials and tribulations that Dorsey has gone through, he says of his life’s work: “If I can see all my neighbors treated fairly, then I will have lived the American dream.”
Dorsey speaks about the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike starting at 7:00
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