Chris Lewis met Kendrick Lott at St. Philip's Episcopal School in Dallas where the two worked as camp counselors. Chris, a Morehouse College student, had graduated from St. Mark's School of Texas one year earlier. Kendrick planned to attend Morehouse in the fall. But instead of becoming Morehouse brothers, the teens died together, brutally slain by two drugged out gang-bangers looking for someone to carjack. Chris was Joy Strickland's son and Joy in the Morning is her inspirational memoir of unspeakable tragedy, healing and profound change. Joy in the Morning is a valiant contribution to the field of grief memoirs. Here we have that rare title written by the mother of a murdered child. Strickland punctuates her story with her original poems and her reflections are the perfect complement, giving her book depth and texture. Strickland, a former IBM marketing executive, is founder and CEO of Mothers Against Teen Violence in Dallas. She says, I have written this book believing that my experience will encourage and inspire others to see their challenges as an opportunity for personal transformation. I believe that healing and wholeness are accessible to us all; that joy is our divine right; and sharing this message is an important part of my purpose in life.
A staunch advocate for teen violence prevention, Joy Strickland has received a bevy of awards and accolades. Her advocacy and commitment have been featured in USA Today; on CNN and CNN Headline News; on USA Radio; in the Dallas Morning News and other media. Strickland is a native Texan who grew up in Dallas and attended Dallas public schools. Her remarkable parents gave each of their thirteen children the opportunity to attend college. Strickland, the eleventh child, earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics with a double minor in English and German from The University of Texas at Austin. She joined the IBM Corporation immediately upon graduation and received numerous awards during her seventeen-year career as a computer programmer and marketing executive. Following her decision to leave IBM, Strickland eventually moved from suburban Dallas back to the inner city community of her childhood. Two years later her older son was killed with a friend in a random act of gun violence. Responding to her tragedy, Strickland founded Mothers Against Teen Violence (MATV) and has led the organization for fourteen years. Throughout her life Strickland has brought her writing skills to her endeavors. In high school she was the editorial editor for the school newspaper. In college, English courses were her favorite elective; at IBM she was one of the youngest employees ever to author an IBM Technical Journal; when the worst happened, writing poetry became her ally as she struggled to heal her heart; at MATV her grant writing garnered the organization over $1.7 million in the organizations first decade. Joy in the Morning is Strickland's first book.