This weekend’s Social Justice Summit brought to NYC by Roc Nation, in partnership with the United Justice Coalition, presented the heartbreaking story of Cheryl Henderson’s son, Chadarion Henderson who mysteriously died in custody while serving time at Parchman maximum-security prison in Sunflower County, Mississippi.
Yo Gotti paid for the Henderson family’s funeral expenses last year after being touched by the tragedy and was a special guest on the “Conditions of Confinement” panel.
Gotti sat alongside Cheryl Henderson, mother of Chadarion Henderson, who was convicted as a teen for stealing car batteries.
“I was one of those kids that grew up going to different facilities visiting my loved ones…Parchman prison is like very close to Memphis, so it’s super close to home”.
Gotti also discussed the importance of advocacy in the hip-hop world:
“i think it’s important for anyone to be involved in anything that they feel strongly about. I felt strong about this when I seen the videos and the pictures come out, so I got with team roc and we did what we could try to do to have a voice for the voiceless”.
The “Gangsta Art” rapper revealed some of the ways he shows support to Ms.Henderson:
“I just think like a parent losing a child really in that manner is like you can’t even imagine, we just try to be here for her the most we could and try to get answers for her but what she’s going through and what she’s going to continue to go threw, you can’t even imagine”.
Cheryl revealed to the audience that her son’s death was not a mysterious accident, as initial reports stated, but that Chadarion had committed suicide after fearing for his life and safety at the maximum security prison.
She said he called her one day and said “ma I’m in here with murderers and rapists. I’m a nonviolent offender, the only thing I did was not call my parole officer, mama I don’t know why I’m here.”
Ms.Henderson also said, “My son was violated, he was abused, in this horrible prison.” Struggling to continue speaking, she added, “My son called me everyday, several times a day crying out for help.”
Cheryl said her son was sent to the Mississippi maximum prison after he missed a phone call with his parole officer after working a nearly 16-hour shift to pay off legal fees from his original trial.
This past spring, Roc Nation assembled a coalition consisting of social justice leaders from various industries, announcing its first ever annual social justice summit.
Its goal was to leverage the power of hip-hop culture to address police brutality and criminal justice reform.