At Coolidge, author reflects on 'A Question of Freedom' 

By R. Wilson, Coolidge HS sophomore


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When Dwayne Betts was 16, he committed a criminal offense that changed his life and taught him some valuable lessons.

He learned to think first before acting on an impulse. Those actions could have long-term consequences.

Betts, now an author, visited Clare Berke’s 10th-grade English class on Oct. 13 to talk about his memoir, A Question of Freedom. His visit was a part of the Pen Faulkner Program, which brings famous authors into school classrooms.

In the book, which students in Ms. Berke’s class are currently reading, Betts reflects on the crime and how it caused him to be treated as an adult. He also talked about preventing the “moment of insanity” from defining him.

“He was talking about some real stuff,” said Anfernee Dargan, a student in Berke’s class. Betts spoke about the times that he was in jail and when he got out. He also spoke about education and advised students to read “three books a week.”

His overall message was to think before you act. Later in life, you might regret the things you did. They could make you feel depressed.

Students felt that he was being honest about his life because some people would lie about what they did. But Betts wouldn’t lie about any situation.

“He kept it 100. He told the truth. Some adults would be afraid to curse in front of kids, but his cursing is a part of his life story,” said Desha Adams, another student in Berke’s class.

Betts also spoke about his life now. His wife just gave birth to their second child.

Russell Simmons, another author who reviewed A Question of Freedom, said that Betts’s words are “a reminder that we can always tap into both the compassion and the toughness that is in all of our hearts.”

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