Turnaround profiles: Prophet Walker

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Once imprisoned for gang activity, Walker became engineer and a devoted father.

While in prison, Prophet said to himself, “I am not a criminal. This is not going to be my life.” And against all odds, he set out to create his own future.

Excerpted and adapted from Walker’s campaign website in October, 2014.

WHEN PROPHET WAS AN INFANT, his birth mother succumbed to a heroin addiction, and at the age of seven, he went to live with his father in South Central Los Angeles. At 16, Prophet was sentenced to six years in prison for robbery and Great Bodily Injury, stemming from a fight with other teenagers.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT was anything but predictable. While in prison, Prophet said to himself, “I am not a criminal. This is not going to be my life.” And against all odds, he set out to create his own future.

FROM THAT POINT FORWARD, Prophet began a remarkable journey as a leader, role model, and community activist. While still in prison, he helped start a program that helps incarcerated youths earn a two-year college degree. He became the program’s first graduate. To date, more than 100 of its graduates have left jail and enrolled in four-year college programs, including Prophet, who attended Loyola Marymount University.

“My Princess is my inspiration, and a constant reminder that every child is precious. Her love is etched in my heart.”

BUT PROPHET’S COMMITMENT to serving his community extends far beyond that. He co-founded the “Watts United Weekend,” which brings together young residents of local public housing projects before they turn into gang rivals. He serves on the Board of Directors of InsideOUT Writers, which teaches juvenile offenders to express their emotions through writing. He is also a founding member of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, which advocates for prison and sentencing reform and helps young people get a fresh start after incarceration.

PROPHET CURRENTLY WORKS with the Jordan Downs Redevelopment Project, which will transform a major housing development and create jobs in the Watts community. Before that, he was a Project Engineer for Morley Builders, helping to build the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. He has also served as a Project Engineer for Nautilus Group Inc., where he helped lead implementation of the first fully robotic parking structure in the United States.

HIS ATTENTION TO CHILDREN stems directly from his unwavering love for his eight-year-old daughter, Pryia. “My Princess is my inspiration, and a constant reminder that every child is precious. Her love is etched in my heart.”

Speech at the Charter Schools Association urging education as the answer (4:38)

The urgency of education: Walker describes what he saw in prison and how he realized that education is the only way to break the vicious circle.

Prophet’s talk at Ironwood prison on restoring hopes and dreams to kids at risk (6:10)

Walker describes his current efforts to help underpriviledged kids learn to dream before they get in trouble.

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