Fernando will be featured in our upcoming Conversation series THIS Wednesday, October 12, 2022. Click here to register.

The Pruno Fund Conversations, a monthly series hosted by award-winning author and WBEZ and NPR journalist, Natalie Moore. Featuring Fernando Bermudez sharing his experiences, hopes, views, and activism on wrongful convictions and our criminal justice system.

This summer, Fernando Bermudez held a virtual workshop for student of the Upward Bound program at Southwest Tennessee Community College. Fernando shared the story of his wrongful conviction and lead the students in creating their own graffiti art piece based on the word “HOPE”. Some students shared the experience and the art they created.

graffiti art piece based on word Hope by Yanet Ramirez Perez
By Yanet Ramirez Perez

I am Yanet Ramirez Perez, and I just graduated from high school, and I am taking college classes for the first time. As an Upward Bound student at Southwest Tennessee Community College. My institution recently had the privilege of having Fernando Bermuda has a guest speaker, and although it was a virtual encounter, his knowledge and insight on those wrongfully convicted left an imprint on my life that I am sure to remember forever. Everyone enjoyed the hope activity, as we were able to see how different people view the meaning of hope in diverse and unique ways, and that was effortlessly shown in the creativity and imagination of all the students who made a stencil drawing. Personally, I was intrigued most by his continuous smile and amiable character, as he suffered greatly in his youth and yet continues to look for the positives in the world. I hope that equitable social justice can be achieved for more individuals, especially minorities. And he is a reminder that life keeps moving forward and that the truth always comes out. I want to thank him for spending time with us and I hope he can continue to share his story with the rest of the world.

– Yanet Ramirez Perez (17)

graffiti art piece based on word Hope by Joseph Murphy
By Joseph Murphy

My name is Joseph Murphy, and I am an Upward Bound Bridge student taking college classes for the first time.  We had an opportunity to read the book “Pruno” and Mr. Bermudez’s story was very enlightening. When we read Fernando Bermudez story and spoke to him on the Zoom call, we learned to never give up hope. In 1992 after being convicted of the second-degree murder that he did not commit he could have given up on himself and life all together. However, Mr. Bermudez kept hoping and continued to fight for his freedom and because he stayed strong and didn’t give up, he was then released 2009. He was released because it was found and proven that he had been in jail wrongfully and had been set up. What I learned from Fernando was never lose hope and never stop fighting for what’s right because no matter what the odds are or how bad it might seem there is always a good chance that the right way will prevail. Fight for your right to freedom and share your story to help the next person.

– Joseph Murphy (18)

graffiti art piece based on word Hope by Ladarius Allen
By Ladarius Allen

I am Ladarius Allen, and I had an opportunity to meet Fernando Bermudez who inspired to me to create artwork that is inspirational. I am not an artist, but his story made me see that my life is something important and I can express my feelings with my artwork. Hope was the word, but hope is also what he gave me. I enjoyed his presentation and look forward to sharing my art with others.

– Ladarius Allen (15)

graffiti art piece based on word Hope by Halie Higgins
By Hallie Higgins

My name is Halie Higgins, and I am in the eleventh grade. I first found out about wrongful convictions through Upward Bound and reading the book Pruno, Ramen, and a Side of Hope: Stories of Surviving Wrongful Conviction. The book told horrifying stories of people being convicted for crimes they did not commit and actually spending time in jail for it. Some for many, many years. Fernando Bermudez was such a delightful person, and I am shocked he is not angrier for what they did to him. He was very positive and motivated me to do better in my own life. I will not take for granted what he said about letting hope lead you. My artwork reflects the hope I now have for my future and Fernando is a great person to listen to for encouragement. I enjoyed his presentation.                                                                                                                          

– Halie Higgins (16)

graffiti art piece based on word Hope by Brenda Ramirez Perez
By Brenda Ramirez Perez

I am Brenda and part of Upward Bound. My sister and I love Upward Bound and even more that we get to meet so many great and inspiring people. Fernando Bermudez is one of those people. From the minute he began to speak, I felt a connection to him. I too am Hispanic and seeing that someone with my similar background could overcome such a tragedy was encouraging. Fernando spoke with such conviction, and he made us feel like he understood where we were coming from. He gave some of my friends positive feedback on their artwork and made me feel like I mattered. I hope we get to talk to him again but in person would be so much better.

– Brenda Ramirez Perez (15)