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  • Writer's pictureGreg Bennick

On Transformation: Changing a Life Can Start with ONE Conversation

Steven Stroud is a former white supremacist and racist skinhead who turned his life around and began organizing and speaking out against racism. I met him in June 2020 in Portland with Portland Mutual Aid Network (PMAN).

He had just gotten out of prison after thirteen years and was sitting on the street where I saw him and gave him a sandwich and we sat together and talked for a long time. I listened to his thoughts on racism, prison, police violence, life on the streets, and survival.  

We sat together regularly that summer and kept in touch. A few months back I asked Steven if I could interview him, and put the interview online. That audio file caught the attention of faculty at Lewis and Clark College in Portland and led to a conversation where Steven was invited to speak to students in ethical theory and interpersonal media classes, as well as campus wide.  

This photo is Steven onstage this week at Lewis and Clark where he gave a full keynote speech about his life story and how to confront racism and racists strategically. 

Steven told the audience that changing the world and transforming people starts with a conversation. He said that us giving him that sandwich in June 2020, and then sitting with him on the sidewalk week after week created a conversation which developed into an ongoing friendship…and this led to him being on that stage and speaking about his experiences for the first time in twenty years.

Steven wants to pursue speaking professionally now. We are closing in on having handed out ten thousand sandwiches with the Portland Mutual Aid Network. If you are interested, get in touch and find out more about how to start a group in your city, and make some conversations happen.  Let’s change the world!

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