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Author Archives: Naomi Bonman

Former and Incarnated Chicago Vicelords Member, Solomon Montague, Shares Story of Redemption

Solomon Montague

Solomon Montague

By Naomi Bonman

When we hear of our young Black men and teenagers deterring in the wrong direction, we give them the wrong response by turning our heads and ignoring them. They need solid advice and a positive, but raw message from someone, preferably another Black male, who has been where they have been and has or is experiencing the consequence. This will showcase as an eye opener and wake up call for many.

In lieu of making this happen is through a media platform entitled, Gangster Chronicles. Gangster Chronicles is geared towards giving current and ex-convicts the ability to share their stories, put an end to mythologies by unveiling hidden stories and reach the youth through literature.  The roster consists of men who were leaders of well-known gangs, such as the Vicelords and Black Mafia, and even a man who inspired a character on the popular HBO series “The Wire.”

Solomon “Chessmon” Montague was one of the core leaders of Chicago’s Vicelords street gang with the rank of a “Five Star Elite.” Now sentenced to life plus 30 years in federal prison, his main objective is to positively uplift the gang culture through his literature.

What was your life like before you got locked up?

My life before this long prison sentence was like a roller coaster ride. The highs and lows were very dramatic. I had rose to the top of gang life with a reputation that even I couldn’t believe! LOL!!

With the life style of being a gang chief, drug dealer and an all American criminal, the streets had created a monster that lived inside of my conscious. Everyday became a battle. I fought demons that tormented my soul when I slept. I had a gun planted in every room of my apartment (even in the kids room). I slept with a gun under my pillow.

 When I was moving in the streets, I always had the feeling that imaginary enemies or police were out to kill me. My head stayed on a swivel and my mind was going a thousand miles per second! I was never big on using drugs or alcohol; however, I started smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol to slow down my mind. This went on for about a year before the feds got me.

What led you to a life of crime?

I believe the thrill and the challenge led me to a life of crime. When I was younger, I would steal from my mother and other family members, then I started stealing from stores. I loved to watch gangster movies and I always rooted for the bad guys. I would go outside and watch how everybody respected the criminals. They were treated like royalty! When I became a gang member, in my mind, I was already a seasoned criminal.

What have you learned about yourself since you’ve been in prison?

What I learned about myself in prison is that I don’t have to be a criminal or a gang chief to be respected! And that I’m a child of GOD and a servant of His will and work.

How long have you been writing and how many books have you written?

I started writing in 07, and I’ve written four novels.

Who are you books geared for and what do you want them to take out of them?

My books are geared towards the gang culture, their families, and people who interact with them. I want them to become conscious and aware of the evils of that lifestyle and to flip the tables and fight against the traps and pitfalls of gangs, drugs, and criminal activity.

Former and Incarnated Drug Kingpin, Rudy Williams, Shares Story of Redemption for Youth

Rudy Williams

Rudy Williams

By Naomi Bonman

When we hear of our young Black men and teenagers deterring in the wrong direction, we give them the wrong response by turning our heads and ignoring them. They need solid advice and a positive, but raw message from someone, preferably another Black male, who has been where they have been and has or is experiencing the consequence. This will showcase as an eye opener and wake up call for many.

In lieu of making this happen is through a media platform entitled, Gangster Chronicles. Gangster Chronicles is geared towards giving current and ex-convicts the ability to share their stories, put an end to mythologies by unveiling hidden stories and reach the youth through literature.  The roster consists of men who were leaders of well-known gangs, such as the Vicelords and Black Mafia, and even a man who inspired a character on the popular HBO series “The Wire.”

The first of three young men that I want to introduce is Rudy Williams. Williams was a notorious gangster from Baltimore who is currently serving 130 years plus life in prison for operating one of the most violent drug rings in the city’s history. During his 20 years of incarceration, Rudy has devoted all of his time to reading, writing and teaching youth that crime is a genocidal trap and not the answer.

Below are a few questions and answers from an interview conducted via email.

What was your life like before you got locked up?

My life was a bubble and a constant target of angry cops, judges and prosecutors. Having achieved the drug dealer’s twisted version of “The American Dream”, a false reality in itself from the git-go, I foolishly believed that I had insulated myself within my own tiny world of glitter, privilege and pleasure.  I had to always be on my P’s and Q’s and never got caught slipping.  One crucial mistake and it’s all over with, in either the penitentiary or the graveyard.   So make the right choice,  now! 

I went to so many funerals that upon being introduced to someone I would look into his eyes and wonder if he would be the person who would kill me or vice versa; however, because I loved my mother, my wife and children so dearly, I always kept them in mind and conducted myself in a manner that all but eliminated the possibility of them having to bury me and come to my funeral, especially for some stupid s–t, like making unnecessary enemies.  

I was extremely courteous and I always had to be at least one step ahead of others.  Most of the time one step was enough, but not always.  I was smart but not smart enough to quit while I was ahead.   Thus, one day in the blink of an eye it all came tumbling down on me and the end result was a sentence of Life plus 130 years in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Prior to 1995, Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary averaged 16 murders a year. Half of them occurred on B-Block.  If the Bureau sent you to Lewisburg, the Feds wanted you dead.   If you was put in B-Block, they had a priority on it.  I was assigned to B-Block for 2 years.   My life is not one you should want to live. DON’T SELL DRUGS.

What led you to a life of crime?

I was lured into crime by poverty, boredom and adventure.  I stole the things that I couldn’t afford; because school was boring, I played “hooky” and got sent away at age 13 to a juvenile facility that was actually a crime school.  When I got out, I was a “real” criminal.  Besides not going to school and shoplifting, I stole cars and did burglaries.  I thought I was cool; I wasn’t cool.  I was stupid.

 

What have you learned about yourself since you’ve been in prison?

In spite of racial discrimination, if I had given myself a chance, with the right guidance I could had accomplished more legally than I did illegally.

The Universe is a perfect sphere because every point on it is the center.  No point is more important than others, and since every point is equal, no matter where you are, you’re always in the center of the Universe and the Here and Now is always the most important Time and Place.

The happiest people are not those who have the most, but those who make the most out of what they have.  The worst disease is misery;  the best medicine, happiness because the life of this world is short and will be over before you know it, enjoy the Here and Now while you can.   Don’t let anything stop you from being happy. I have never seen a sick happy person.  Have you?

What advice do you have for young boys and men who get trapped in the drug or gang war, and think it’s their only way out?

The Federal Government took over the so-call drug game long ago.   They control it completely.  They will let you make alotta money and then bust you so that they will look good on t.v. and in the newspapers to get promotions.  By releasing  snitchers back to the streets, they keep “the game” alive.  Nine out of 10 persons dealing drugs are working for the cops.  They have a government license to do what they do.  When they get caught, they get a DO NOT GO TO JAIL PASS.  The drug game is just a death trap to fill up the prisons and graveyards with poor people, especially  Blacks and non-white Hispanics.

You don’t have to sell drugs to achieve your goals or to get the things that you want out of life.  Money can’t buy happiness.  If you don’t enrich your mind first with knowledge, money will become your worst enemy and your worst nightmare.  You’ll be the constant target of larceny, jealousy, envy, flatters, con artists, and gold diggers; and of course cops, bandits and killers. No matter how smart you are, you will get caught and do big time unless you become a rat and snitch on your family and friends for a GET OUT OF JAIL FREE PASS.

The Feds will not let you beat it continuously and make it look foolish and incompetent. It will lie and cheat to put you in prison for a LONG, LONG, TIME, or you will be murdered, probably by a friend; however, if you truly believe in yourself, and give yourself a chance and work long and hard at something you enjoy, you can do anything you put your mind to.

I can name a billionaire rapper and 10 more who are close to it, but not a single billionaire drug dealer outside of Mexico or Columbia, so think about that the next time before you go make a drug deal.

Pan African Film Festival Closes Out with Man in 3B, Celebrity After Party

By Naomi K. Bonman

It’s always an exciting affair to have the pleasure of covering one of the largest and long standing film festivals within the Black community. On Sunday, February 15, the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) closed out an amazing two weeks of panels, international films, and workshops with the highly anticipated film, The Man in 3B, based off of the book by world renowned Black author, Carl Webber. The premiere of the film took place at Rave Cinemas 15 located at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles. It was preceded with a red carpet and followed by an exclusive after party.

The film is directed by Trey Haley; produced by Princess Monique, ND Brown, Veronica Nichols, Tracey Moore, Jeffery Dumpson, and Walter Nixon; and the film features an array of incredibly talented actors which include Lamman Rucker, Christian Keyes, DB Woodside, Brely Evans, Kellita Smith, Nefessa Williams, Billie Dee Williams, Jackee Harry, Marla Gibbs, Robert Ri’chard, Anthony Montgomery, and Olivia Longott.

Man in 3B is a romantic thriller following the story of Daryl Graham (Lamman Rucker) who just moved into a Jamaica, Queens apartment building, and his neighbors, female and male alike, can’t stop talking about him. From his extreme attractiveness to his undeniable swag, Daryl is the man every woman wants to be with and every man wants to be.

After the screening there was a Q&A session with the cast and crew. During the session each actor gave a few pointers, tips, and advice to those who want to break into the industry. Some of them were to “continue working hard, network at film festivals such as PAFF, and to be a pleasant spirit because no one wants to work with an individual who becomes a headache.” They also mentioned how each of them started with several littles roles which then opened the door for their big break. So as long as you keep working hard and NETWORK, NETWORK, and NETWORK with the right individuals, your goals and dreams will unlock.

The production crew has been blessed to receive several offers regarding distribution and screening of the film for the future. Be sure to keep an eye out for the film to hit your local theater and/or department store. Please visit www.tridestined.com for updates regarding the film.

Photos by John A. Castro & Naomi K. Bonman