Letter of Recommendation for Mr. Rayford Johnson Mr. Rayford Johnson is a man of many talents. He is not only a youth counselor working at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation but also an ordained minister, published author, photographer, and cultural critic. For these reasons, in March of 2008, I invited Mr. Johnson to give a lecture to my undergraduate class, ³Race and Juvenile Justice,² which I taught at UC Davis in the winter of 2008, on his experiences in working with youth of color. In response, Mr. Johnson provided a stimulating and interactive presentation on the role of the media music in particular and its influence on young people today. His presentation consisted of lecture, music video and audio clips, and a short documentary/dramatization (produced by Mr. Johnson and several inmates) of life inside juvenile corrections. Overall students enjoyed his presentation and perspective and appreciated Mr. Johnson¹s style of speaking. Most found him to be engaging and accessible. Others praised his ability to speak to issues that are relevant to them and that affect them on a daily basis. Though he is a preacher, they did not sense he was “preaching” to them but rather showing them an alternative way in which to view the role of media in young people¹s lives. Ultimately, they gained significant insight on a topic few had really considered relevant to their lives. Like the students, I also came away with a greater appreciation of youth of color and some of the challenges they face in and outside the correctional system. I believe it is important to have people such as Mr. Johnson talk about the kind of work that they do and to show others a world largely unknown to the average citizen about youth and corrections today. His insight and experience is extremely valuable if we desire to have real change in the lives of young people today and in the larger society. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you. Sincerely,
Miroslava Chavez-Garcia Associate Professor, UC Davis
Solano Middle School-Vallejo, California
To Whom it May Concern, I am writing this letter on behalf of Rayford Johnson. Ray has been a speaker at our school numerous times. We incorporated Ray¹s Speaking into our Life Skills unit, as well as, having him speak at an assembly. Ray has a very captivating speaking style, which kept our middle school students attentive and interested. Ray uses his experience with incarcerated youth and an outstanding Power Point presentation to deliver his message. Ray spoke about the influence of media and music on our youth and how it affects their life choices. Ray illustrated that when youth are constantly exposed to negative images in music and videos, they are more prone to make negative choices. Ray exposed the subliminal messages of Hip-Hop music and demonstrated how to rise above them. Ray is always a welcome guest at our school. He presents a positive and spiritually uplifting message to the students. I would highly recommend Ray Johnson as a future speaker at our school or any other venue where teens are involved. Sincerely, Steven Boche Solano Middle School P.E. Department Chairman Athletic Director
Kaplan College October 23, 2008 To: Whom It May Concern: It is indeed a pleasure to recommend Mr. Rayford Johnson. As the author of Thug Mentality Exposed is has wonderful credentials to discuss the influence of gangs in America. As a Youth Corrections Counselor is clearly has a caring attitude about the information he conveys to the audience. We had the pleasure of his company on October 14, 2008 for a series of seminars and lectures on the topic of the history of gangs and their base in world culture. The students were thoroughly engaged in the content of his presentations and his choice of various modalities of instruction kept even the most easily distracted students engaged. I highly recommend his presentation for age groups 12-82. His topic has relevance for all of us. If you have further questions regarding his qualifications please contact me.
Sincerely, John W. Graham
Director of Student Services
Thank you for your great presentation. Our students were very attentive
and obviously interested. My feeling is that your material was informative
and thought provoking.
ROP Sports Therapy & Fitness
LINKS Academy @ Boys & Girls Club
1117 G St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
The students were thoroughly engaged in the content of his presentations and his choice of various modalities of instruction kept even the most easily distracted students engaged. I highly recommend his presentation for age groups 12-82. His topic has relevance for all of us. If you have further questions regarding his qualifications please contact me.
John W. Graham Director of Student Services Kaplan College-Sacramento
Hi Ray, our youth really enjoyed your presentation. It was a big eye opener for them, they had no idea how gangs actually started, where marijuana came from with the effects that it can do to you, where thizz came from, and roots of where thug came from. You also talked about music lyrics how those words influence people. It was a lot of useful information. The youth were engaged, paid attention well, I can
see that the youth were eager to learn more. Since your presentation,we have seen big change in a few of our youth. They are more responsible and more mature now.
We would definitely recommend you to do more presentations also recommend reading your book.
La Vonnia De Loach
Life Skills Coach
North State Building Industry Foundation
Out of School Youth Program
I thoroughly enjoy your presentations. They are high interest and thought provoking for the students.
You do a wonderful job in presenting the material so the students can
identify with, but know they are
not being judged.
Community School Teacher
LINKS Academy @ Boys & Girls Club
Dear Mr. Johnson,
It indeed was a pleasure to have you present to my Physical Education classes your expertise on gang and drug prevention. My students were thoroughly engaged and are still talking about what they have learned. The information was valuable. Your presentation was professional, using lingo that students will understand. Your materials were pertinent to the middle school age. Your interaction with the students gave them a chance to express their opinions. They were able to process the
information and self-assess their own beliefs.
Again, I want to thank you for your presentation to my classes. Parents and teachers will benefit from your workshops. You were a great resource and your website address remains on the board.
Solano Middle School
“As a College Instructor on the subject of Modern Street Gangs, I have been blessed and proud to use this book as the textbook for my course.