" With faith and our testimonies, we shall overcome! "
John and Vivett met as students in Jr. High School in Elmont, NY. They were really good friends throughout Jr. High, High School, and into young adulthood, often talking about the romantic relationships they were in separately and where they saw their lives in the future. It was a very special friendship because of the personal nature of these conversations.
Unfortunately, the actions of one fateful night in 1999 drastically altered John's life. He murdered a man, and was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. The two friends lost contact. After 15 years of literally no communication with one another, a mutual friend of theirs, Mr. Pablo Sinclair, serendipitously reconnected them in June of 2015 when he saw Vivett at a reggae festival in Eisenhower Park and shared with her that throughout the years of his incarceration, John had always asked about her. She felt guilty that she had not been a better friend, had not kept in touch with him; however, was excited to see how her old friend John was doing, especially after enduring almost two decades of incarceration. What was he like? Had he changed? How was he?
After two months of exchanging letters and phone calls between them, on August 7th, Vivett went to visit John at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Westchester County, NY. She went back on August 12th. On that day, he proposed to her. She accepted. They courted for nine months and were married on May 28, 2016.
Their journey back to each other is nothing short of profound and undoubtedly orchestrated by Divine Appointment. Join them on their journey as they share the healing power of love, acceptance, transparency, and truth that they've experienced individually and collectively through the lens of mass incarceration from the inside and the outside.
"love, transparency, acceptance, and truth!"
- SPEAK YA TRUTH
"Life is beautiful...a lot more beautiful than you think... through eyes like mine." - John Dukes
If you want to know who I am, you should know that first and foremost, I am a family man who loves God. I honor my commitment to my marriage, my children, and my friends fully. I am a happy person who has a positive outlook on life. I enjoy serving other people, and have been able to further this gift during my 18 years of incarceration. Going to prison played a major role in maturing me into a man and I have purposed my life to share the wisdom and teach the life lessons that I've learned going through the refining fire of life with others. Each generation should know more than the previous one. It is the responsibility of the elders in our community to impart some sort of meaningful, newfound appreciation about life because of what I have endured during this incarceration. I've seen so many bad things...so many people going through so much....it's time for us to open our hearts, our souls, and our eyes. It's time for us to heal.
Like most women, I wear many hats: I'm a wife, a mom, a teacher, a writer, a fashionista, a songbird, a chef, an artist -- and so much more. At the heart of all of these roles, I am a passionate woman of God, humanitarian and social activist who cares deeply about those who have been and continue to be systematically and historically disenfranchised. I have found myself feeling lost and disconnected for most of my life, although all the while wearing a smile. After healing from the many tumultuous seasons of my life (a short stint in jail, the untimely deaths of my mother, daughter, and grandmother, an abusive marriage, homelessness twice over, and alcohol abuse), I found my truth. I found my voice. As I began to positively construct and disseminate my newfound truth-filled voice, I discovered that the more transparent and truthful I became in my sharing of myself and my experiences, the more my voice resonated with people from all walks of life. So many people are hurting and are living lives shrouded in shame and fear because they are so afraid of what others will think about them, not realizing that those very people have mounds of skeletons in their own closets that they are hiding. Once I realized this, once I claimed the beauty in my ashes as a child of God, the more empowered I became to live and share my truth boldly and fearlessly -- thus the impetus for this website. It is my sincere desire that every person who takes the time to visit VivettDukes.com and explore the contents therein will walk away empowered to live in their truth and share their story.
"We shall overcome...by the word of our testimony." - Revelation 6:12