When El Sawyer was 17, he shot a guy who was trying to rob him and ended up spending eight years in prison for it. He’s been out of prison for ten years and has been working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office on a documentary about prison re-entry in Philadelphia that is getting widespread praise and region-wide screenings. Yesterday, he invited the people of Reddit to ask him anything.
Read the Reddit AMA here.
Reddit’s AMA’s (“Ask me anything”) question and answer threads have become something of a cultural phenomenon (Obama did one that actually crashed Reddit’s server for short period of time), not to mention a simple, free way to reach a huge audience.
At 6 p.m. yesterday, Sawyer’s post was the third highest ranked AMA thread, filled with questions like, “What was your first day out of prison like?” and “What were the circumstances that led you into selling drugs at that time?” It was the top AMA for about 12 hours since the thread opened yesterday afternoon, said Sawyer’s co-director Jonathan Kaufman.
Since its launch in January, Sawyer’s documentary, Pull of Gravity, has been screened in various locations around the city. It follows three Philadelphia men, including Sawyer, in different stages of prison re-entry. Check the film’s site to find upcoming screenings and watch the trailer below.
Sawyer is now operations director at the Village of Arts and Humanities, a youth media and arts nonprofit based in North Philadelphia. Read more about the Village in this Technically Philly feature from 2010 that includes interviews with Sawyer and his co-director Kaufman.
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