The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


“Find Your Voice” Speaker Series with Shuja Moore producer of the documentary short, “Pardon Me”

Erie, Pa– “Fight to be better.” 

-Shuja Moore 

Gannon University hosted Shuja Moore, the independent producer of the documentary, Pardon Me. He was joined by Antonio Howard of Gannon’s Pardon Hub, Dr. Parris Baker associative professor of Gannon’s social work Rob Roth a pardon applicant, and Tobey Oxholm director of the Pardon Project. 

Moore shared with the audience his past. He came from a good home and experienced a life-changing event that encouraged the gears to turn. He realized that everyone in his community that had the same circumstances had no money and no power. 

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This realization created a snowball effect for Shuja. From one product to the next he gradually made his way further and further into illegal substances. 

“I had a fire in me that I didn’t know how to channel.” 

This fire became too much to channel, and Shuja found himself in prison for murder. 

This was not nearly the end of his story. He was given a second chance. His ‘cellies’ gave him hope. He found a community of men who wouldn’t let each other fall off, who gave him hope. 

“Get out of that bed. Do your time, don’t let the time eat you.” – Unknown cellmate 

Shuja, like many other inmates wrote to the local paper. Unlike other inmates he wasn’t writing to prove his innocence. Instead, he wrote an apology to those impacted by his choices. Shuja received two perspectives from his apology. Some thought he was crazy for displaying something so revealing, but others commended him for showing vulnerability. 

His time allowed him to realize that he wanted to give back to the community. He started working with multiple non-profits in his local community. Even though this work was fulfilling, Shuja knew that he could do more. He remembered his time incarcerated but also the time after. He took his love for videography and created a beacon of hope and enlightenment for those who had recently been released who needed it. Shuja made his first independent film, Pardon Me. 

The film highlights the experiences of those who have been incarcerated and much like Shuja wanted to make a difference in their community but couldn’t because of their records. They turned to the pardoning system. 

For many it takes years to receive any kind response. During that time, they are stuck in careers they aren’t passionate about because their career of choice can only see the record. Not the person. 

“The barrier to be a human being.” – Antonio Howard 

The film covered stories from Evan, Tonie, and Brandon, but of course they are not the only ones that have gone through the Pardon Project and hopefully will not be the last. 

Evan a story of addiction, an illness turned to a sentence, Tonie a story of protecting her children turned to a crime, and Brandon a story of being young and making a mistake. But like Evan said in the film, “You make mistakes, that’s why pencils come with erasers.” 

The film allowed the audience to gain a small insight into what it is like to have to prove to your community, to your society, that you are not just the worst thing you’ve done forever. 

Following the film students, faculty, and staff were welcome to answer questions. When asked what advice you would give to someone in the system to not lose hope, when their situation feels hopeless, the panel responded with what they did to remember to keep hope. 

“Find something good everyday…put your best foot forward every chance you get.” – Rob Roth 

“Get out of bed and fight for your future.” – Shuja Moore 

“Find ways to bring back hope.” – Antonio Howard 

The Pardon Project has made it possible for many to continue their lives after being released. The director, Tobey Oxholm created the project to make sure that those who are sentenced aren’t left at a dead end. 

“You’ll be giving hope to them just by helping out.” 

For those who want to learn more about the ‘Pardon Me’ and find ways to watch the documentary can visit this link; 

Gannon is now looking into the possibility of developing a unity justice fellowship that will be an opportunity for students to get involved with community members and alumni to contribute to a fellow. Students can receive a scholarship of $1,000 a semester to participate in the fellowship and be part of something that will give back to the community. It is still in the process of being finalized. 

If you or someone you know might have an interest in changing people’s lives, visit and learn how to contribute to a community that needs your help. By helping this community, you can ensure that the opportunity of a future is given back. 

See their faces, know their stories, pardon them. 

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