As a 15-year-old growing up in Washington, D.C., Marcus Bullock knew his mother, the Rev. Sylvia Bullock, was working hard to raise him and his sibling on her own. When Marcus saw the effort his mother was putting in and how little his family had, he decided to take matters into his own hands.
In 1996, he and a friend committed a carjacking and, despite his age, Marcus was tried as an adult and served eight years in prison for the crime.
At the beginning of his sentence, Marcus says he was focused on survival.
"That long road trip on that prison bus, it was like three or four hours," he said. "The whole time, I'm mentally preparing myself for warfare."
During the time that Marcus was gone, Sylvia said she thought about her role in the community and her role as a mother.
"You know, here you are trying to help everybody else, and you can't even minister to your own," Sylvia said. "Because I felt like, what could I have done differently and how did I not see it?"
Marcus told his mother that he believes she did everything she could, but both admitted that the time apart from each other was difficult.
"Initially, it was a real sense of feeling alone," Sylvia said. "I stopped cooking dinner, but what kept me truly alive and focused was being able to write to you."
The letters Sylvia wrote to her son were long. Marcus recalled them being six, seven or eight pages, adding that "the letters were everything."
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