I thought your article about Warren Kimbro (“A killer redeemed, Kimbro dies at 74” Feb. 5) was excellent. Mr. Kimbro was one of New Haven’s most prominent community leaders, and it is appropriate that his passing was recognized with a front page article.
I take issue, however, with the headline that you chose to run with this article that labeled Kimbro as “A killer redeemed.” This sensationalist headline reflects little understanding and appreciation of Kimbro’s life’s work and legacy. In his role as the founding director of Project MORE, Kimbro challenged formerly incarcerated people, and himself, to move past their lives of crime and embrace a positive narrative of community participation and service.
As the article describes, Kimbro was a Harvard graduate, a lifetime New Haven resident, a community activist, a policymaker, a mentor, a father, a grandfather, a husband and a friend. All New Haven residents have benefited from his tireless efforts to help ex-prisoners rebuild their lives. I would certainly not suggest that his criminal past be swept under the rug; this experience was a powerful part of his personal journey. However, by labeling Kimbro a “killer” in the headline, the newspaper sends the message that, in spite of Kimbro’s work, the News editors, like so many others, are determined to make criminal activity the defining experience of all formerly incarcerated people, regardless of their subsequent achievements and contributions. Your headline should have read, “Community activist Warren Kimbro dies at 74.”
The writer is a research associate at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS in the School of Public Health.