"I Chose To Look Skyward"

At a Live from Death Row forum held at Columbia University on September 22, Lawrence Hayes provided this statement.

When I was in the death house at Greenhaven Prison, I remember having the same dream over and over and over again. Even now, its every detail is clear and its every underlying meaning still lives true.

In the dream, I was aware of a feeling of becoming lighter and lighter and lighter.

Then, realizing that while I still had form, I no longer had the weight of a body, that I could just open my arms reach skyward and fly away. To leave behind all the pain, injustice and misery that I witnessed but knew did not have to be.

In my dream, I chose to look skyward and open my arms, intent on leaving the badness of this world behind me. But something held me against my will, and after a number of stubborn attempts, I looked back to see an uncountable number of hands reaching for me.

And though not a single hand touched me, the simple power of their reach held me, pulled me, until I awakened to another day in which to value, appreciate and respect life.

And now, little less than 30 years from having the dream, I share it with all of you, knowing that it embodies every child, woman and man in death houses across this country and symbolizes the reaching hands of everyone here today at this Live From Death Row conference.

The fact that I am able to write this message speaks to the hopes of those in death houses throughout this world, saying "never give up."

It also speaks to everyone in this room, that I am proof of the power of your reach.

Keep on reaching for, in the words of the Black Panther Party, "All power to the people!"

In Struggle,