Livestream will begin at 4:45pm on Saturday, April 20th CST

Voices of Freedom is an impactful initiative designed to provide formerly incarcerated individuals with the necessary skills and resources to become effective public speakers on social justice issues and their lived experiences. This is a collaborative effort between the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center and Remind to Shine Motivational Media LLC.

Donate here! Voices of Freedom is a Fiscally Sponsored Project of the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center. To make a donation, click here. 

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Crushion “Cru” Stubbs, Keynote Speaker, Program Director of Voices of Freedom

Crushion "Cru" Stubbs is a beacon of inspiration, from Chicago but currently living in Champaign, IL to pursue a degree in Communication at the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign. Crushion is not just a student but serves as a consultant for the Education Justice Project's P2GPathway Initiative, proving his dedication to paving the way for formerly incarcerated individuals to access higher education. He's the creative force behind Remind to Shine Motivational Media, a platform that spreads messages of hope and resilience, inspired by his own journey of triumph over tragedy. Through compelling storytelling and uplifting content, Crushion's mission is to ignite the spark of hope in hearts that need it most. As the visionary mind behind the Voices of Freedom Speaker's Showcase, providing a platform for voices that refuse to be silenced, Crushion empowers individuals to share their stories of resilience, redemption, and renewal, inspiring audiences to embrace their own potential for greatness.

Shamar Betts, Speaker

Originally from Chicago, Shamar relocated to the Champaign/Urbana area to complete high school and found a new home in the process. Currently serving as an Achievement Coach at DREAAM Opportunities, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering youth, Shamar is passionate about making a difference in the lives of young people. In addition, Shamar is also an intern at the office of State Representative Carol Ammons, where he actively contributes to legislative efforts that uplift and support marginalized communities. On February 21st, 2024, he was honored with the prestigious "Next Generation" award from the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation (ILBCF), recognizing his commitment to creating positive change. Looking ahead, at just 23 years old, Shamar is determined to continue his work with youth, aspiring to make an even greater impact in the future. With his passion, drive, and dedication to serving others, Shamar Betts is poised to become a leader in his community and beyond.

Harvester Baker, Speaker

Originally from Chicago and now calling Urbana home, Harvester Baker is a true Renaissance man. As a skilled artist, devoted husband, and loving father, he infuses his passion for realism into vibrant paintings, soulful portraits, and captivating murals. His art, inspired by everyday life and his travels, has earned him recognition, including an honorable mention from WCIA news for hosting an independent art gallery event. He uses his talent to support noble causes, participating in fundraisers like 40 North, Artists against AIDS, and independent breast cancer awareness campaigns. Currently, as a commissioned vendor for University of Illinois art exhibitions, he shares his work with a wider audience. Harvester also runs his own LLC for handyman services, showcasing his diverse skill set and entrepreneurial spirit. His ultimate goal? To make a positive impact on his community and beyond, using his art, strong work ethic, and inspiring story to uplift others and achieve success in his business ventures.

Tamika Davis, Speaker

Tamika Davis is a force for change and empowerment. Hailing from Champaign, IL with over a decade of dedicated service as an employee of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and First Followers reentry program, Tamika has tirelessly championed causes of justice and progress. As the proud founder of G.E.M.S. (GIRLS EMPOWERED AND MENTORED FOR SUCCESS) and a compassionate life coach for DREAAM, she is committed to nurturing the potential of young women and guiding them towards success. Honored with awards, including the esteemed AYO HANDY-KENDI Woman of the Year award and the heartfelt Not on My Watch “Mother of the Year” award. Tamika has discovered her true purpose in helping young women who feel lost find inspiration, hope, and healing. Drawing from her own journey of overcoming challenges, she firmly believes that the person closest to the problem is closest to the solution.

Kardell Sims, Host



Kardell Sims is a passionate advocate dedicated to helping formerly incarcerated individuals rebuild their lives. Despite facing tremendous adversity in his youth, he has overcome his past to become a leader in the re-entry space. Growing up in poverty with strong influences of drugs and gangs, Kardell first became involved with the justice system at age 15. After release, Kardell put his plan for personal change into action. He beat the odds by transforming himself through education, self-improvement, and service. Today, he is the founder of On The Inside Re-Entry Academy and uses his journey to inspire those facing similar struggles. As a national speaker, 9-time author, master certified empowerment coach, and re-entry consultant, Kardell is dedicated to guiding others toward self-empowerment. He shares his story of overcoming poverty, addiction, gang influences, and recidivism. His aim is to spark inspiration and provide the tools for creating lasting change.

Katie Martin, Facilitator

Katie Martin is a communication coach who takes the fear and frustration out of speaking – especially public speaking! Since starting Dovetail Speech Consultants in 2009, she has inspired hundreds of people to share their ideas with clarity, confidence, and charisma. As a result of suddenly losing her ability to communicate as a teenager, as well as facing her own fear of public speaking as an adult, Katie shares unique insights on how you can crush communication barriers that are holding you back. She uses her 5-part framework to help people develop speaking skills and style that accelerate personal and professional growth.

RSVP for Voices of Freedom Speakers Showcase