Johnny Page: Going back to Woodlawn
Johnny Page, a former gang member, is excited about the prospect of helping young people from competing gangs realize that they have more in common with one another than they think. “If I can do that, the time I’ve spent in prison will have been worth it.”
Johnny has come a long way since he enrolled in classes at Cook County Jail just to get off the deck. Locked up at eighteen, he had always enjoyed reading and was an exemplary student when younger. However, in high school he got caught up in street life and dropped out. Once he started taking classes again at the jail, “the old feeling came back, the feeling when I was a child of enjoying the challenge.”
Johnny credits an old-timer who urged him to “challenge his thinking” with pushing him back towards academic success. In recognition of his many contributions to EJP, Johnny was invited to address the University of Illinois’ 2010 national symposium on higher education in prison, part of which was held at Danville prison. He wants to help young people back in his old neighborhood know that they, too, can change their condition.
“The day I get out, it’s my responsibility to go back to Woodlawn. I’ll always be responsible (for what I’ve done), and the least I can do is go out and try to fix a small corner of the world.”