“I got out of jail years ago, before most of you were born,” she told the audience. “I never even imagined myself speaking to audiences like this.”

Davis, who was fighting a cold, said it was her second time at Lehigh. She was there in mid-January but the program was cancelled when the campus shut down because of bad weather.

She seemed eager to share more, decrying domestic violence: “A family can often be a haven for some of the worst kinds of violence against women and against children.”

She also mentioned “the capitalist food industry that makes us sick while supposedly serving our needs for nutrition.”

Nas shares his story

Nas, whose full name is Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, grew up in New York City. He said he was a high school drop-out, but knows the importance of education.

Explaining the mind set of his youth, the 40-year-old Nas said “we grew up in a war—there was a war on and no one really told us what the war was. We would hear little pieces of stuff like ‘watch out for this,’ “be careful in school’ and ‘don’t talk to strangers.’ We started seeing how the cop cars would drive by slower and slower, focusing on us.

“And then we’d see the dope fiends. Some of my friends’ parents were on dope. There was a large amount of drugs in the poor neighborhood and a large amount of guns. It was rough on me, seeing my friends’ families torn apart by drugs.”

He said he saw friends’ older brothers getting locked up and wondering “what do the cops want him for?” And then, one by one, many of his friends also wound up in jail.

“Whether you dabble in the street life or not, if you lived it, you’re just as guilty. You couldn’t escape it.”

Nas said he was lucky growing up —that he was getting real love rather than “broken household love’ that some of his friends were getting.

He decided he wanted more, that he did not want to live in that environment as an adult and he didn’t want his own children to grow up in it.