From prison to teaching about Bitcoin at Jay-Z’s academy: ex-convict Justin Rhedrick shares his story

Mildred Europa Taylor July 03, 2023
Justin Rhedrick. Photo: Linkedin/Justin Rhedrick

Justin Rhedrick was passionate about change while still behind bars serving a sentence for a home invasion. He had grown up in Charlotte around family and basketball but the lack of employment and his desire to make money landed him in prison.

Determined to turn his life around after his release from a North Carolina prison in 2014, he decided to venture into entrepreneurship, first by launching Vegan On The Go. At the time, he had learned about Bitcoin, which was quickly gaining traction, and so his Vegan On The Go was not only to educate people about eating healthy but how to pay for vegan meals with bitcoin.

Rhedrick is now doing incredibly well in the blockchain industry and helping others get on board through his best-selling book From Bars To Bitcoin, which he wrote after meeting Bitcoin OG, educator, and entrepreneur Isaiah Jackson. Besides highlighting his journey to financial freedom in the book, Rhedrick is also noted for Overcome All Adversity Coaching, a consultancy supporting professionals, and corporations with the resources to perform better.

“Bitcoin doesn’t care about your track record, doesn’t care about where you are from, who you’re voting for, who you’re having sex with; there is no systematic prejudice built into the system,” former convict and author Rhedrick said in an interview.

Owing to this, Rhedrick has also been active in onboarding the global Black community into the crypto industry. Former convicts, for instance, have been learning about blockchain technology from him to enable them to use it to rebuild their lives after incarceration. The Bitcoin Academy started by Jay-Z and Jack Dorsey became interested in Rhedrick’s works and hence made him an instructor at the academy to teach members about bitcoin, how it works, and how members can build their financial future overall. The Bitcoin Academy is a program for residents of Marcy Houses, in Brooklyn, New York, which aims to provide education and empower the community with knowledge.

Rhedrick is now among a growing number of Black people creating businesses based on bitcoin. A 2021 survey from the Pew Research Center showed that 18 percent of Black adults had invested in, traded, or used a cryptocurrency compared with 13 percent of white adults. Blacks have been more attracted to bitcoin because of various reasons including the fact that there are no credit checks before entry. The industry is also helping to close the wealth gap, analysts say.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: July 3, 2023


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