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‘It’s Like A Rebirth’ - Genarlow Wilson Begins a New Chapter At Morehouse

By Add Seymour Jr.

Like any other student, Genarlow Wilson is just looking to be on time as he begins the spring semester at Morehouse College where he has been admitted as a part-time student.

“It’s like a rebirth – a breath of fresh air,” Wilson said. “I’m able to do what I wanted to do and attend college and excel in my studies.”

This time last year, Wilson was a Georgia inmate having been convicted of aggravated child molestation.

In 2003, he was 17, a Douglas County (Ga.) High School senior, a football star and homecoming king who was fielding interest letters from Ivy League schools.
But during a party, he was videotaped while a 15-year-old classmate performed consensual oral sex on him.

An old Georgia law considered that child molestation and a felony, carrying 10 years in prison since the girl was under 16. Through a quirk in the law, had they had intercourse he would have only faced a year in jail.

Wilson was found guilty and sent to prison.

The sentence’s harshness was denounced by the likes of civil rights leaders Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson along with former President Jimmy Carter. Heavy criticism forced Georgia lawmakers to change the crime to a misdemeanor punishable to a year in jail.

But it wasn’t retroactive, meaning the law spurred by Wilson wouldn’t free him.
The Georgia Supreme Court eventually deemed Wilson’s sentence was cruel and unusual. He was released in October 2007 after two years in prison.

After leaving the prison, Wilson knew that college would definitely be in his plans.
The school he considered -- Morehouse and its tradition for developing strong men of character.

“To be a Morehouse man means to be a Renaissance man of moral conscience,” President Robert M. Franklin ’75, told listeners on the Jan. 10 edition of the Tom Joyner Morning Show.

Franklin mentioned Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Spike Lee, former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson and actor Samuel L. Jackson as Morehouse men who’ve exemplified excellence in academics, community service, leadership and character.

“And we are delighted to now welcome into the fold a very promising young brother who had a very difficult start, but we expect to have a terrific finish,” Franklin said of Wilson.

The Tom Joyner Foundation, led by HBCU booster and radio personality Tom Joyner, will pay for Wilson’s education.

“I’m so glad to give you a second chance, Genarlow,” Joyner told Wilson during the radio show.

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