My Life, My Story, in My Words…
By: Hassan Giordano
Recently my character has come under assassination, with my criminal record exposed over the airwaves of Radio One’s WOLB1010AM (as if people did not already know my story). However, it got me thinking about my life, my journey and God’s blessing in allowing me to be where I am today! Serving the public through the media outlets afforded to me, having a beautiful and loving biological and non-biological family of supporters, along with the friends and associates such as my followers through this site and other social media links, allows me to live each day as the blessing that it is and gives me the courage to share my story with you and the world.
Growing up as an only child to a mother who has been the most loving and endearing woman I’ve ever come across, the struggle of a single parent with a limited education wore on her daily. However without thinking twice about it, she continued to engross me with the loving support a mother can have for child, even without the presence of a father. Coming up in the not so loving streets of different neighborhoods, I remember my mother ensuring my safety and educational values by moving us out to the suburbs of Baltimore County in order to afford me a better way of life.
Attending an almost all-white elementary and middle school (Padonia Elementary and Cockeysville Middle), I was confused as to why my clothes weren’t as fresh, my apartment not as big as their houses and why me and my mother had to continuously catch this raggedy thing called the MTA bus? Being of mixed breed – African American and Italian – I blended in well with the white folk however everyone knew I was not one of them, and trust me they made me aware of that every chance they got! Upon attending middle school I ran across some brothers and sisters of African descent which made me happier than kid in a candy store. Befriending these individuals (James aka Old Man, Demond aka D-Nice, Tommy aka TinyT and Thang) there was no separating the C-Ville crew of Cranbrook.
Growing up with this core group of soldiers, we made life in Cockeysville one of tremendous adventure and sometimes pure hell, to those who crossed us or came across our mischievous ways. In High School (Dulaney High) we all were considered the bad boys of the block, as we constantly were getting into trouble, usually me more than the others, and “macking” the ladies who took to us like a tic on a bear’s butt. However as thrilling a lifestyle we led, it would soon catch up with us, in some of the worst ways possible.
Our families financial holdings bordering on the line of poverty and having a disdain for menial jobs such as fast food and customer service, we decided to live our lives in the pursuit of instant gratification, drug dealing. Beginning with marijuana and then graduating to heroin and cocaine, we set out to become the next Scarface of Baltimore County, yet allowed the occasional usage of these narcotics to overtake our lives. Living out our early teenage and young adult lives, we all made some idiotic decisions having visited the county detention center more than our favorite restaurants. This way of life eventually led to a life of crime that spiraled out of control and eventually divided our loyalties and families. From a check scam (which was the first time I actually made the newspapers) to selling drugs and being caught with narcotics, I racked up more charges than King Solomon had wives.
Upon my twenty-fifth birthday, I was given my first eye-opening opportunity of success as Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Wanda Heard, instead of sentencing me to the 7-year sentence that the prosecution was asking, or rather begging for, she instead decided to send me to Baltimore’s premiere drug and alcohol recovery program, I Can’t We Can. After chastising the three young men in front of her, Judge Heard felt as though she was tired of sentencing young brothers like us, all under the age of 25, and decided to give each of us one chance at redemption. And I personally took full advantage of the opportunity!
During the first weekend of my stay at the recovery program, we were asked to come out and give our voluntary services of “street/alley cleaning” during the City’s fall clean-up. Not given much of a choice, we were out and about at 8A cleaning up rat feces, garbage and unused furniture through the late hours of the afternoon. During a period of this “spiritual cleansing” we attended a press conference that had the program’s founder and CEO, Israel Cason up front at the podium with Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley. Following this dreadful weekend, I next witnessed Mr. Cason give his story during a Friday graduation ceremony, where he spoke of his shooting drugs for over thirty years, and living in an abandoned car before having to abandon that lifestyle for recovery once someone took a dump in the back seat. It was then, at that exact moment, that I said to myself, “If this old dope fiend, of 50+, who was just standing with the Mayor, can change his life and have what he has, I can certainly change the world!” And it is since then, that I have been trying to do just that!
Beginning as the I Can’t We Can public relations director, later transitioning into the spokesperson for Israel Cason and political advisor at times, I started working on an ICWC, NAACP and ACLU project to restore voting rights to former felons. Upon our first year victory in Annapolis in 2002, we changed the law to get halfway to our goal. It is through these times that I learned everything I could from election specialists Marvin ‘Doc’ Cheatham and former Secretary of State John Willis. Graduating to assisting in the 2002 elections of the 40th district team of Salima Siler Marriott, Tony Fuller and Pete Rawlings, I became entrenched with politics and its caveats. Entering my first year of independence both in the program and in the world of politics, I began working for then City Council President Sheila Dixon’s re-election campaign, as her Field Director.
After meeting and befriending Catherine Pugh, along with her beautiful and loving sister, I enjoyed seeing the ins and outs of City politics. However after my political mentor Salima Marriott came to me and asked me to meet with Sheila and think about working on her campaign, I was caught up in my first political imposition. Do I allow my budding friendship with someone who seemingly took my abilities for granted, outweigh the possibility of earning $1000K a week for someone my mentor says is a great woman? Not particularly caring for Sheila at first, until I actually met her and her children, who I eventually fell in love with, I decided to take on the role of a lifetime. After this victory and learning more about the ins and outs of politics than I have since, I then immediately began working for Delegate Marriott as her legislative aide. Delving into learning everything I could in Annapolis and about the legislative process, not to mention learning from one of the most learned and experienced women of the legislature, I took full advantage of this opportunity.
Then being offered a State Director position for the Maryland Voting Rights Restoration Coalition, a Cheatham created organization for full passage of voting rights for former felons, I also became a member of the National Right to Vote. Traveling across the country, from SPIN Academy trainings in California to speaking engagements in other states, I began to really understand life and the meaning of living it without the use of alcohol and drug use. Eventually leaving this organization I was then brought on as Deputy Director of the Mfume for US Senate campaign under my man, Eric Bryant. This is a time I began a lifelong friendship and brotherhood with my brother from another mother, Dale Graham. He worked for Kweisi at the NAACP and on the campaign before leaving to work on John Sarbanes campaign for Congress. Working hand and hand, while hanging out together thick as thieves, there was no stopping these two former felons who were determined to change the world.
I ended that year, 2006, with my first child on September 12, 2006 on Primary Election Day, Malik Hassan Allen was born. (Allen was my former last name, given by my father, however I’ve since changed my name to my mother’s since she is the one who has raised me to be the man I am today!) Weighing in at seven pounds, six ounces; this young man became the center of my universe and the reason on why I lived! Beginning the year of 2007 getting passed the bill I had the pleasure of writing, naming and eventually getting passed; the Voter Registration Protection Act of 2007, allowed for those convicted of a felony the opportunity to vote once again, upon their completion of their entire court ordered sentence. Getting a chance to come onto the Michael Sarbanes campaign for City Council President later on in the campaign, I had plenty of fun with that campaign crew, who were young and not really in touch with the Baltimore politics needed to allow for his victory. Taking time off afterwards to focus on my son and family, 2007 and the beginning of 2008 were as politically uneventful as one could imagine.
Unfortunately, my best friend and brother Dale’s life was cut short on October 28, 2008, by the Baltimore City police officers who decided to put 4to5 bullets in him for no apparent reason! Having taken on the role as “Uncle Hassan” to his two daughters and becoming like a third son to his mother, his loss made me almost lose my mind, and certainly my sobriety. After recently receiving my opportunity to write for the Examiner, Dale’s untimely demise weighed heavily on my heart. However, carrying on with my political purpose in life, the new journalistic opportunity writing for a national publication began to open my eyes to the importance of media. I was then offered a shot of a lifetime, as my idea of a political television show came to fruition with the assistance of friend and producer, Chip Dizard and Absolute Presence. Beginning with a 3-show concept at Digital Harbor High studios, we eventually grew it into a full 13-week program that concluded as the First Season of the Reporters’ Roundtable w/Hassan Giordano.
Meeting a special young lady during the filming of this TV episode, she decided to stick with me through my ups and downs of ’09, trying to bring forth a Second Season of the RR and my counseling regarding keeping me on track to become the man I am today. Also following my first son’s mother passing away, leaving me as a single father of a three-year old in November 2009, I had become particularly hard to deal with. Earlier this year, after finding out she was pregnant with my second child, I was apprehended by the Baltimore City police leaving a counseling session and on my way to my baby’s first doctor’s appointment. Being charged on bogus charges that I am still fighting today, I became more incensed on becoming a good father, a community activist against police corruption, a productive political journalist and the best damn political campaign operative and analysis I can be.
Facing everything life has to throw at me, I am blessed to be in the position I am today and have the endearing love of those who have been supportive of me from the beginning. From media colleagues and friends Catalina Byrd (On Point), Doni Glover (BmoreNews) and Bobby Marvin (Hue Voices), I have been able to stay focused on what is important in political reporting. I’ve been blessed to come across political friends who are of both political parties, Democrat and Republican, with some being incumbent legislatures and others staffers or politically inclined lobbyists and/or activists. From the C.D. Witherspoons and his consistent fights for freedom, justice and equality, to the socially active members of DMD Experiences (Derrick Compton, Monique Jones and Derrick Chase) I have been extremely blessed to know who I know. I also have to recognize my political advisors such as my pops Bill Henry Sr. as well as Victor Clark, as these men have enabled me to learn the history of City politics and be able to see a bigger picture when at times I want to deal with the obvious present outlook of things.
It is through these people and others, that I have been blessed to encounter, that makes me the man you see and follow throughout my media endeavors. Yet it is through God’s grace that I am the man still standing when I should have been dead and buried long ago, or even incarcerated for life; yet through His mercy I stand hear today telling my story to people I may have never met, yet can certainly say I respect and honor! I truly appreciate your views, respect your comments and concerns and hope that one day we all obtain the ultimate goal we achieve! Mine today, frankly no longer involves the riches of an extravagant lifestyle, rather to enjoy the time I have left on this Earth to appreciate and love the people I have been blessed to serve and come across in my 34-years of existence.
Hate makes waste, while Love encourages creation, therefore let today be the day you begin to put down the negative views and opinions you may have of others and pick up the love God has blessed you with! For today is the day that the Lord has made, let’s be glad and rejoice in it!
The proceeding words are excerpts from my upcoming book entitled Ashy to Classy: From Prison to Politics. The usage or posting of such without the expressed authorized written consent of the author is strictly prohibited. © 2010.
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