On March 3, 2021, Loyola University Maryland students, alumni, faculty, staff, and members of the Baltimore community were joined by Marcus Bullock for the virtual lunchtime keynote that served as the kickoff to the Sellinger School of Business and Management’s annual event series, Building a Better World Through Business. In his inspiring talk, “Advancing Equity Through Entrepreneurship: My Journey from Incarceration to Innovation,” Marcus shared his journey from a prison system that perpetuates oppression, hopelessness, and isolation, to building a life and starting a business anchored in making a difference. By encouraging the audience to join him in a conversation about race and justice reform and to ask the uncomfortable questions that they may be afraid to ask in other forums, Marcus engaged us to lean in, listen, ask and act. Marcus began by telling the viewers of his experience as a teenager within the criminal justice system. Marcus recounted that when he was a teenager, he and a friend made the decision to carjack a man sleeping in his car, in a mall parking lot in Virginia. “It was one of the worst decisions of my life” said Bullock. At his sentencing, the judge decided Marcus, at the age of 15, would serve eight years in an adult maximum-security prison. “My brain wasn’t processing what was really happening—in fact, I lived in denial of that prison sentence for the first two years.” Continually thinking that he would get out early and be home with his family, Marcus came to terms with his sentence and started to believe that he would die looking at cinder block walls. “I got immediately hopeless,” he said. During those first two years of denial, Marcus said that his mother would visit him constantly. However, every time she came, Marcus described having to watch the correctional officers pat her down. This was very hard for Marcus to watch. “I don’t want you to go through this any longer,” he told her, in an effort to stop her from visiting. Marcus’s mother chuckled and said, “you have lost your ever-loving mind if you think I am letting you go to prison culture.” He said it was in this moment that she committed to sending him a picture and a letter every day for the remaining 6 years of his sentence a commitment that Marcus credits with saving his life.
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