The question, posed in Langston Hughes’ classic poem Harlem, lies at the heart of The University of Sing Sing, an inspiring 40-minute HBO Documentary Films presentation.
The film brings viewers inside the walls of the Sing Sing Correctional Facility, where some 1,700 men serve out lengthy sentences, often for violent crimes. Many of the inmates have found hope, and a new state of mind, through Hudson Link, a privately funded non-profit organization that offers college courses and the opportunity to earn a diploma. Immersed in a curriculum that includes the study of books like Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and Plato’s The Cave, the prisoners bring insight and enthusiasm to the classroom. Their hard work culminates in an emotional graduation, where their tenacity is an inspiration to all. Through interviews with professors, students and their families, this illuminating film reveals the true value of education, and its ability to give those in need a second chance. “They’re no longer the men who ended up in prison,” one professor insists. “They’re new people, transformed by education.”