Derrick Newton is a writer born in Oakland.
He was a streetwise hustler from 1985-1995. Like many young people then—and even now—he was caught up in the belief that dealing lead to a glamorous life. However, after the crack-cocaine epidemic hit Oakland and neighborhoods like it and the War on Drugs began, Derrick became disillusioned with this life.
After a decade struggling to escape the streets, Derrick woke up in Highland Hospital after being shot multiple times. In addition to these struggles, Derrick was also diagnosed with dyslexia, but despite this, he earned an Associate’s degree at Evergreen Valley Community College in San Jose, CA. He later graduated from UC Santa Cruz cum laude with a degree in Sociology.
Derrick’s story of success and perseverance has made him passionate about helping others and speaking out against the Industrial Prison Complex. He is an activist and youth counselor, as well as a song writer. Derrick has traveled around the world and has a passion for learning about different cultures.
“Never give up on your dreams, because your dreams would never give up on you.”
- Derrick Newton, University of Santa Cruz Commencement Speech 2018.