“Uncuffed” alumni Tommy Ross (left) and Thanh Tran (right) speak during Project Rebound’s panel discussion on Oct. 21, 2022 in Jack Adams Hall. (Oscar Palma / Golden Gate Xpress) (Oscar Palma)
“Uncuffed” alumni Tommy Ross (left) and Thanh Tran (right) speak during Project Rebound’s panel discussion on Oct. 21, 2022 in Jack Adams Hall. (Oscar Palma / Golden Gate Xpress)

Oscar Palma

Project Rebound celebrates its 5th annual mural celebration

Members of 'Uncuffed,' a podcast produced and recorded by people who are incarcerated at San Quentin and Solano State prisons, attended the event

October 22, 2022

Around 30 people gathered at Jack Adams Hall on Friday to participate in a panel discussion with “Uncuffed” members and to attend Project Rebound’s  fifth annual mural celebration of  “Incarceration to Liberation.”

The panel was led by “Uncuffed” podcasters Tommy “Shakur” Ross, Thanh Tran and Project Rebound’s Director George Turner.

The panel discussed how they are working to change the narratives that society created for them, and how programs like Project Rebound can help change that narrative.

A portion of the Incarceration to Liberation Project Rebound mural in Cesar Chavez Student Center on Oct. 21, 2022. (Oscar Palma / Golden Gate Xpress) (Oscar Palma)

Tran, who served 10 and a half years, is an organizer, artist and Senior Fellow at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. He started this work inside San Quentin State Prison.

“The unique thing about San Quentin State Prison is that they had media,” Tran said. “We had film, we had podcasts, we had radio, we had a newspaper, literally everything we did in that media room was about reclaiming the narrative.”

Ross got out of prison last April. Within the 36 and a half years he served, he managed to earn his associate in arts degree from Oakland’s Patton College in 2019.

Now he is a student at Laney College, an ambassador for the UC Berkeley Scholars programs and works for organizations such as Guiding Rage Into Power and Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth.

“Controlling the narrative means telling my story in a way that’s real and true to me, not the way the state of California sees me or views me,” Ross said. “When you talk about education, education is also controlling the narrative.”

“Uncuffed” is a podcast produced, recorded and edited inside San Quentin and Solano State prisons. 

The project started in 2012 as an initiative from KALW producers with the support of the California Arts Council’s Arts in Corrections Program. Its goal is to provide media training to incarcerated people, so they can have a platform to tell their own stories.

Additionally, it is funded by the Division of Rehabilitative Programs at the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation. The initiative offers visual, literary, media, performing and traditional arts.

The panelists and attendees also celebrated the Project Rebound mural located at the Cesar Chavez Student Center terrace level.  

The mural represents the similarities people have experienced in prisons and the stereotypes that come to formerly incarcerated individuals. Friday’s event was a celebration of the work people have accomplished through Project Rebound.

“Some folks feel that we don’t belong in higher education, that we don’t belong on campuses, that it’s a waste of education,” Turner said. “We proved them wrong over and over again, for the last 53 years, we’ve had a great success rate.”

During the discussion, Tran spoke about the trauma incarcerated people endure and what he believes is the best way to heal. 

“One of the most healing things you can do is let it out or whatever art form it is,”  Tran said. “Whether it’s painting a beautiful mural, whether it’s a podcast, whether it’s music.” 

Project Rebound student Albert “Feast Salotti” Feaster, performed the Project Rebound theme song for the first time on stage. 

“We didn’t always think positive and productive,” Feaster said. “We used to think negative. I am trying to be vulnerable. I am trying to look you in the eyes now.”

Tran wanted to send a message about formerly incarcerated people who are trying to transition back to everyday life. 

“One of my biggest struggles is teaching people to be patient with me,”  Tran said. “I’m learning and I’m doing my very best, I promise you, I’m doing my best.”

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About the Contributors
Photo of Oscar Palma
Oscar Palma, Spanish Editor
Oscar Palma is the Spanish editor for Golden Gate Xpress; some of his interests are bicycles, vinyls, film, dive bars, Latin American literature and punk shows. He is interested in covering cycling, environment and underground shows, some of his work has previously appeared at El Tecolote and The Frisc.

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