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This ex-Black Panther started an urban farm to create jobs for ex-inmates

Katie Herzog

Sep 9, 2015

Ray Kidd was incarcerated for violent crimes from the ages of 16 to 23. Both of his parents are currently in federal prison. Now, Kidd wants to break the cycle, and he’s doing it through farming. Kidd is an employee at West Oakland Farms, a for-profit operation founded by former Black Panther Elaine Brown. “Every day I come here I learn something new,” says Kidd. “I didn’t know that a lot of fruits start life as a flower; that just blew my mind.”

Kidd is one of 10 former inmates working at West Oakland Farms. “People come out of the joint with nothing to do and $200 in their pocket,” says Brown. “Once that money runs out … they’ll do anything to survive, including hitting somebody in the head for $20. We have to create positive opportunities for these people to return to the community.”...

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