The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Kelechi Ezemma Volunteers with the Harriet Tubman Project at MCI-Norfolk Correctional Facility

Kelechi Ezemma headshot

This summer Kelechi Ezemma, Public Policy ’26, is volunteering for the Harriet Tubman Project (HTP). This grassroots organization based at MCI-Norfolk Correctional Facility in Massachusetts strives to unpack structural racism. HTP works to reduce recidivism by providing participants with preventative and restorative services such as mental health, financial literacy, housing, computer literacy, and workforce training. HTP’s overarching goal is to eradicate mental slavery within institutions by educating participants about the legal and moral obligations within their fight for freedom.

With the Harriet Tubman Project, Ezemma researches material relevant to the organization’s mission and writes briefs on requested topics. Additionally, she participates in community outreach through the creation of social media content, encouraging engagement and garnering support for legislative bills to improve the lives of individuals who are incarcerated.

Asked what she has learned through her experience with HTC, Ezemma shared, “The most important thing I have learned is the profound impact of systemic racism and how it permeates various institutions. In class, we learn the historical context and present-day manifestations of racism, but having an understanding of how it actively works in various aspects of life, including the prison system, is essential for truly being educated.” Ezemma continued, “The most surprising aspect of this opportunity is witnessing the incredible determination of wrongly incarcerated individuals in their fight for freedom, despite facing discrimination and societal stigma in various aspects of their lives.”

Ezemma has found that her work with HTC has deepened the lessons she has learned in the classroom, explaining, “I’m studying public policy to better understand the legal framework in which policies are developed and implemented. This volunteer opportunity has helped put into perspective the importance of policy feedback.”

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