MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Kemba Smith Pradia’s story has been told by the national media on television and in magazines. Recently young people in Memphis got a change to hear her story first hand.
“I talk about my incarceration, very blunt and how young kids don’t want to go into the system and have a record and not be able to get a job. Hopefully it can have an impact here.”
While attending Hampton University Smith Pradia made a decision that changed the course of her life.
“Due to choices I ended going down a self destructive path starting with being in a relationship with a drug dealer.”
A drug dealer who was involved in a major crack cocaine ring. She was eventually sentenced to 24 years in prison. Smith Pradia served more than six years of her sentence before being released by President Bill Clinton’s order of clemency.
During her stay in prison she gave birth to her son.
“It’s a story of inspiration and hope because we’re living in a society where a lot of our young people feel a sense of hopelessness.”
Smith Pradia details her story in her memoir “Poster Child”. In Memphis she visited with teens at the Juvenile Detention Center and encouraged them to get on the right track.
“You have the potential to be great and you need to understand the consequences to each and every choice that you make.”
After 17 years of freedom and sharing her cautionary tale, Smith Pradia says she knows it’s still impactful.
“I don’t believe every young person has to make each and every mistake there is to make in life. They can hear another person’s story and they can make a determination they don’t want to go down that path.”
Smith Pradia came out of prison determined to make something good of her life. Along with speaking to young people around the country, she is also an advocate for felons, fighting for their rights to vote and sit on a jury.