SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Along Suffolk’s historic Main street, the Ex Felon Entrepreneurship Retail Museum, or “The EFERM,” is positioned to change lives chapter by chapter. Founder Amar Skinner’s first chapter includes life with an abusive stepfather.
“It created a lot of anger in me, and a lot of times when I went out in the streets and I robbed people or I shot people, I just saw his face,” said Skinner, who is a 44-year-old native of Suffolk.
The law caught up with him in 1997. Skinner and his brother were convicted of murder. Over the years, he completed several courses and certification programs. He was released from prison in 2008, built an empire, and became a writer, speaker, and owner of four businesses.
Two years ago, Skinner bought a building at 444 Main Street. The building sits on the original site of the Castle Inn, which was built in 1789 but destroyed by fire in 1837. Skinner has turned the building into a unique museum that offers interpretations of his past.
His experiences will set the scene Saturday at noon for a community march. It comes just as gun violence has surged in his hometown.
“If you look at the dynamics of the people killed in Suffolk, Virginia, over the last month or two, every one of them looks the same — they are from the same race,” he said.
Skinner’s community march aims to draw attention to the gun violence program and attract volunteers.
“This march is going to be more of a walking demonstration than a march in the streets. It’s going to be a peaceful walk up the sidewalk with the signs just letting the people of Suffolk know we care and that the EFERM is here with awareness to help their kids out of those conditions where they actually experiencing feeling like there is no hope,” said Skinner.
For more information on the museum and the march, contact Skinner at cdcgllc@gmail.