We have written about some of our brothers who were executed. We will publish them in no particular order. Here is the first one:
Pernell Ford, Holly Wood, Gary Brown, Derrick Mason, Darrell Grayson Remembered by Anthony Tyson.
The first guy I met on life row was Pernell Ford. He was a very interesting guy to say the least. Pernell was like the class clown for the entire row. But he was also mentally challenged, someone who should not have been executed. Pernell and I became friends and I wanted him to fight for his life but Pernell was tired and had a very unusual outlook of heaven. And he wanted to be with his “lil brother Jesus” as he called him.
I befriended a few unique mentally challenged guys. Holly Wood being another. He had to be one of the cleanest guys I’ve ever met. I learned a lot about hygiene and body cleansing from Mr. Wood. I thought his name was a nickname when we first met, but he later told me that he was born in Holly Florida and his dad was a Wood. And there you have it, Holly Wood.
My first encounter with a Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty member was Gary Brown. He was a faith filled guy that I grew to like right off the bat. Gary taught me how I could channel my faith into being a constructive member of phadp. I learned from Gary spiritually as well as character wise. Gary was a brother and all around good guy.
I met my best friend after I joined the group of phadp “dying to live” Derrick Mason. We got to know each other quickly because he was always learning and seeking to know about other cities, towns and counties in the state of Alabama. And my being from Tuskegee he was really interested in the Black town, Black agenda and HBC. We became real close friends over the years, actually brothers from a different mother. And to this day his mom calls me son and I call her mom.
My most gratifying teaching came from Darrell Grayson. What he did for me as chairman and leader was awesome. He inspired me to become a better person and possibly leader one day. To watch him was to learn. He carried himself like a man. He took his position as leader and chairman seriously and was good at it. What he did so differently than some of the professional teachers and leaders that I had encountered was that he led and taught with intensity, letting you know that he cared and that your learning was never about him. I grasped that firmly from him that if you are going to help raise someone, help them because you really want to help them and not so you can say: I helped him read or become a board member, or vice-chairman. No, he did it with purpose to truly help you.
Derrick and Darrell fall under the umbrella of one of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou when she said: “I’ve learned that people may forget what you said, people will forget what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel.” These guys made me feel they cared and coming from my own past that was huge!! I miss you all!