Roderick 'Rudy' Bankston

Roderick “Rudy” Bankston is a committed educator,  entrepreneur, Restorative Justice practitioner, and writer. His powerful story describes his experience as a survivor of the school-to-prison pipeline and surfaces and explores intersecting themes of identity, equity, justice, trauma and resiliency. Wrongly convicted and sentenced to life at 19 years old, Rudy spent 20 years in prison before winning back his freedom on appeal.


After his release from prison in 2015, Rudy began working for the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD); first serving as a Community Liaison at Memorial High School. He added a second position guiding students’ learning and growth within ‘Restore’, the district’s expulsion abeyance program. The following school year, he transitioned into a Central Office position as a Restorative Justice Coach to support engagement of Restorative Justice across all levels of the organization. He left MMSD in August 2019 and continues his work engaging Restorative Justice as a founding member of Small Fire, LLC. and founder of i Am We Classics and i Am We Coaching & Mentoring, LLC.


Rudy has served as an adjunct professor at Edgewood College and currently is a consultant with the National Equity Project, serves on the board for the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice (NACRI), and is a member of the Black Educators Network.


Rudy’s published works include a novel, Shed So Many Tears; a collection of Haiku, Snippets of Soul in Seventeen Syllables; and a book of poetry, Buried Alive.


Finally, March 2020 marked his 5th year of freedom. May 2020 marked another important milestone: the end of his parole.

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Roderick 'Rudy' Bankston,

Founder and President