Who is John Lee, this innocent we are trying to free and have exonerated? If you make a donation, who will you be helping in addition to helping justice?
Joanna responded to John Lee’s first letter by asking him for “an accounting for his presence in the world”. His response to that rather pointed request gives you a measure of the man we are asking you to help.
“I was born April 5, 1967, in Rockingham, North Carolina, to a fourteen year old black female. My father I do not know much about, only that he is a white man who lives in Rockingham. I first learned he was my father from my grandmother. I tried to get more out of her but she just told me he was white and owned a business. My lawyers say he is a well off man.
“I started having a great desire at a very young age to see my father. Seeing all the other children with their fathers made me feel bad. I used to pray to God to take me to my father or that my father would come get me. I cried all the time and then I would hate the world and run away a lot. I was a lost child growing up. No one to love or be loved by.
“When I was two years old, my mother moved from Rockingham to Washington, DC, to live with her older sister. I was a very light-skinned child growing up in Washington, DC, around lots of dark-skinned children. I would get picked on about my light-skinned color and my hair, which was soft and curly, not nappy like real black children’s hair. My mother is dark-skinned, and when people saw me they knew she’d been with a white man. I was a curse to her.
“The problems of abuse started when my mother went to live with my stepfather. His real name was Clarence, but everybody called him Boogerman. He would beat her, and she would beat me. I think when she looked at me she saw the white man who had abused her as a child. She would scream, ‘I wish you was dead.’ It got worse after she ran off from Boogerman and took us to live in Cambridge, Maryland.
“When I was nine years old the Social Service people got me. I was very afraid that day. I was placed in a group home, but I ran away. After that I was placed in group homes and state training schools for young boys more times than I can remember. All my life I’ve been afraid.
“My brother Clarence grew up to be a drug dealer in DC. He controlled a big section of north-east. They called him Big Daddy on the streets. I never did become a crack head or seller of crack. I do not like people who deal in this kind of life. Once a person comes into deep knowledge and wisdom, they wake up from the darkness they were living in and come into a pure light that’s so beautiful. I’ve come from where I’ve been to become a strong man today, mentally, physically, and spiritually. That makes me feel good about myself. I feel that I can overcome anything, and become who I desire to become. My young life is hard to think about. Respectfully, John Lee.”