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Minneapolis (AFP) - As a 45-year-old recently released convicted murderer, Kempis Songster is not the most obvious choice to be a guest at the Super Bowl, where A-list
000 a ticket.,celebrities and VIPs rub shoulders with fans paying up to $3
he had little hesitation
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,But when Philadelphia Eagles veteran Malcolm Jenkins was granted two tickets following his nomination for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award
in granting one of them to Songster.
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, has been one of the most prominent voices in the NFL's season of political activism,
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, speaking out against social injustice and working with local community law
enforcement to help change attitudes about race.
where he spoke to inmates about criminal and social justice reform.,He met Songster during a visit to Graterford Prison in Pennsylvania last year
Songster had been incarcerated since the age of 15 after being convicted for the 1987 killing of a teenage runaway, Anjo Pryce, in a crack house in southwest Philadelphia.
but was resentenced to 30 years and eventually released last December following a US Supreme Court ruling which life
,He had initially been sentenced to life without parole
without parole for juveniles to be unconstitutional.
"Usually people think about kids, anyone who is sick," Jenkins told reporters as he explained his choice of Songster.
"I wanted to think outside of the box,
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,and with all the work I've been doing on social justice and criminal justice, I wanted to do something special for him.
"I had a chance to visit Kempis when he was in prison. So I wanted to give an example of having a mindset where we can see beyond our worst acts and move forward."
Songster, whose case had become a cause celebre for social justice campaigners in Pennsylvania, has vowed to advocate for other juvenile lifers following his release. A vegan
he has now started work at a gym.,
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,and yoga fanatic
"I thought it was a way of rewarding him for the commitments he's made in giving his life back to society,
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, to repay the debt that he knows he can never pay back,
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," Jenkins said.
"He had been locked up for 30 years. And I'm 30 years old. I feel like he deserves that second chance. Often we give up on people when they make mistakes. I wanted this to be an
example that we are all better than our worst acts."
,Jenkins had protested during renditions of the Star-Spangled Banner this season by raising a clenched fist. He later halted his protest after talks with the NFL
to pledge $100 million to social causes.
- Educating NFL bosses on communities -
While that decision divided opinion amongst players, with some continuing the protests, Jenkins has applauded the willingness of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and team owners
" Jenkins said. "The NFL has come and listened. We were able to take (Eagles owner) Jeff Lurie into the community
,"There was a need for us to protest and make our voices heard
and show him the kinds of issues we are facing. That gives him a better understanding of the community.
"We did the same thing with Roger Goodell. It's a process of educating ownership and people from the league front office about why we're so passionate about it.
just regular every day Americans.,"I can't change the color of my skin. It's one of those things I live with daily and it affects so many people of color
"There are so many injustices in our country and we all share the burden of fixing that. I have a platform and I see it as important that I use that to better this world."
Jenkins batted away questions about a possible boycott.,While teammate Chris Long has already indicated he will shun a White House reception with Donald Trump if the Eagles win
"I'll worry about getting this win first on Sunday," he said. "Let's get the win first and worry about travel plans later."
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