TAHLEQUAH, Okla. —The White House has named Cherokee Nation citizen Daryl Legg a “Champion of Change” for going from a three time convicted felon to someone who’s helped positively change the lives of dozens. Legg was sentenced to prison three times for drug possession, but turned his life around and now runs a work reentry program helping other Natives overcome similar obstacles.
Legg, 43, of Sallisaw, is the Cherokee Nation’s director of vocational programs which includes a new program called “Coming Home.” The program helps former prisoners get back on their feet upon release, including help with jobs and housing.
Since the program started in September, 53 of the 55 formerly incarcerated participants have stayed out of prison, with the majority maintaining steady jobs.
“Daryl has helped the Cherokee Nation develop one of the most progressive reintegration programs in Oklahoma and across Indian Country. His humanity and commitment make him a deserving White House Champion of Change honoree,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “Like Daryl, I believe we can’t just give up on people after incarceration. We must open doors of opportunity for our people, not keep them closed.”
On Monday, June 30, Legg will be honored at the White House with 14 other recipients. The “Champions of Change” award is given to ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things in their communities. The White House says it received more than 900 nominations for the category Legg is being honored in, which is reentry and employment for the formerly incarcerated.
Legg has been a director of Cherokee Nation’s vocational programs since 2009. It’s the same program that years earlier offered him the opportunity to learn employment skills after being sent to prison twice in Arkansas and once in Oklahoma.
Legg eventually graduated from Northeastern State University with a major in psychology in 2006 and worked his way up to a director before starting “Coming Home.”
“I’m thankful I belong to a tribe that gives me the freedom to do what I love and give back,” Legg said. “The feeling of being able to be trusted again is an awesome feeling and I’m thankful to the Cherokee Nation, and the White House for this award. More than anything, I’m glad to see the reentry issue getting the attention it deserves.”
The “Coming Home” program is for citizens of federally recognized Native American tribes. Applicants must contact the program within six months of release to be considered for participation.
– Cherokee Nation release