Haneef Lurry: Community Activist
“People told me in prison that EJP saved their lives,” says Haneef Lurry, an EJP alum-turned-community activist who now lives and works in Florida. He continues, “You could tell a prisoner who was in EJP from one that wasn’t, from the way they carried themselves.”
So what did EJP do for Haneef? “As far as academically I loved it because it pushed me a little more like I wanted to be pushed,” he says. “It really made you exercise your brain.” However, Haneef says that classroom interaction with professors and fellow students was an equally crucial part of the EJP learning experience. “EJP helped to develop my social skills, my presentation skills. [It] gives you a sense of confidence interacting with people who don’t treat you like a prisoner or an animal.”
Now an active member of his Florida community, Haneef puts these social skills to use as a leader and organizer. Shortly after joining his local chapter of the NAACP, Haneef was nominated to the post of chairman for the Youth and College division, a post that he now happily fills. By working with area youth, Haneef says, “We’re promoting leadership skills and we’re pushing them academically to do the best they can. I’ve been doing a lot of work to keep them busy and do a lot of volunteer work.”
Haneef also advocates on behalf of prison re-entry programs. “Down here in this part of Florida there’s absolutely no programs for re-entry,” he explains. He is currently working to establish just such a re-integration program, possibly in collaboration with the Sheriff’s Department.
Haneef has a paid job at a gas station and convenience store, but it’s clear that his off-hours are what most occupy his mind. In addition to his activism, Haneef says he enjoys “being around family,” the relatives that he missed for so many years.
“I honestly believe that even though I had a desire to be doing what I’m doing, EJP made me more confident,” he concludes. “ I don’t think that I would be doing half of what I’m doing if it wasn’t for EJP.”