When challenging times are upon us, inspirational words and optimistic outlooks can help reshape our perspectives. In an in-depth conversation with QG, author and exoneree Ricky Kidd shares his uplifting life story and views on justice reform as well as navigating through COVID 19.
Growing up without a father and having a mother who was a drug addict left Kidd with the mentality that he would always have to fend for himself. In his early childhood, before the age of 12 years old, he virtually navigated through life on his own. In 1996, he was wrongfully convicted and endured this hardship alone. Believing he had no one to depend on became a recurring theme throughout his life until he reached a turning point that took him in an unexpected direction.
“I realized now here I am again,” he recalls. “I’m gonna have to fend for myself. Sometimes in life things are going to happen, and you’re going to have to push for yourself. I pushed for myself, and it resulted in me finally being released on August 15, 2019.”
Now as a speaker, activist, and playwright, Kidd is utilizing the opportunities afforded him to speak out against injustice across the country. He feels very fortunate to have the “I am Resilience” platform to share his message with others.
“I feel like the world met me halfway, and I’m very grateful for that,” he stated. “They’ve had cameras on me the moment I came home. They’ve not turned the cameras off. We’ve had coverage as far as the UK, New York, really all over the world.”
He plans to use one of the plays he wrote Mind of the Innocent to showcase his views on criminal justice reform. He wrote the play during his time in prison. It has been performed at The Kick Theater in Kansas City and featured Sweet Magnolias actor Frank Oakley III. All his endeavors, whether it be speaking arrangements or writing plays, will always have criminal justice reform at the forefront.
For Kidd sharing his story with young school students is especially important. He hopes to help set them on the right path in life so they can have the best future possible.
“If at-risk youth are beginning to make poor choices,” he explains. “I want to help them stop. I’m innocent of my crime, but I’m guilty of poor choices. I was a dealer, and I wasn’t making the best choices as it relates to friends.”
Aside from guiding at-risk youth, he desires to help young people see their potential because he believes they are the future.
“We have the opportunity to inspire them,” he said. “Some of them have said I’ve heard your story, and now I want to get into law.”
Kidd provides more insight into his platform and how he earned the title of coach and trainer for “I am Resilience.” Twenty Three years of “raw experience” gave him the knowledge and expertise.
“The wrongful conviction I suffered carried on for so long,” he reflects. “Many people often say, even experts, I don’t know how you did it. I would have given up. How do you come out of the fire without smelling like smoke? That’s where the idea of me being resilient first began.”
When out and about, Kidd encountered people who had heard his story and called him “Mr. Resilience”. Over time he began to embrace the title, and he became certified through participating in resilience training. This is how he officially became a resilience trainer.
In regards to his book, “Vivid Expressions: A Journey Inside The Mind of The Innocent" he hadn't intended for it to be published, but it was instead a means to express his feelings throughout life’s challenges.
“I had so many thoughts and emotions,” he explains. “I needed to put them down somewhere. In prison, you don’t get to share with anyone about what’s going on in your mind. It was therapeutic for me at the time.”
Journalists often queried about what his experience in prison was like, and the poetry he had written during that time provided a perfect reflection. The book gained its title by allowing readers to be immersed in the author’s most personal thoughts during a dark time in his life. For Kidd, it's a testament to his growth as a person. “Vivid Expressions” is an achievement of which he is very proud. We can expect upcoming books in 2021.
Kidd also offers advice on how to navigate through the current pandemic. The 5 Keys to Activating Resilience In The Face of Coronavirus are get anchored, keep moving, find your energy, find your perspective, and be selfless. He shared this knowledge with the community and felt it could help people overcome any challenge.
“Those were the things I was able to do to get through my challenge,” he said. “These are actionable things that people can do when they find themselves in a pickle.”
When considering the current events of racial injustice, Kidd chooses to embrace the hope for change. Reflecting on how he overcame his challenges brought about through wrongful conviction allows him to feel hopeful for justice reform.
“I’m optimistic, and some of that comes from my experience,” he stated. “I was told no eleven times, and it took twenty-three years, but I finally got the one yes that brought me home. We’re so tired of losing time and time again that we think it's never going to happen. But it can happen. I’m optimistic that we can see criminal justice reform on all levels in this country.”
To learn more about Ricky Kidd's journey, please visit RESILIENCEMODE.COM.
Check out his book Vivid Expressions: A Journey Inside The Mind of The Innocent” (Available on Amazon)