“We were privileged to have Rhidale Dotson call in and teach students in my Music and Incarceration class. Learning of his project to develop a collaborative musical practice with other inmates that allowed them to reach across social barriers, my class was struck by his tenacity and commitment in developing this program.  Even more, they were challenged and inspired by the way that he has developed a practice that embraces and values the individual knowledge and expertise of the people he works with.  Many of my students plan to be educators after they graduate, and they connected with Rhidale’s description of how the project developed and how he works to make music with people who arrive with different viewpoints and experiences.  One of them said afterwards, ‘I feel like Rhidale is actually practicing what we are always talking about figuring out how to do: bringing people’s talents and ideas together and helping them create something powerful.’  Another followed up, ‘I learned so much from his visit, and to be honest, I didn’t expect to.  It made me face my own biases and to think about what we lose when we decide that some people have nothing to teach us.’” 

Dr. Susan Thomas, Professor of Musicology, University of Colorado-Boulder 

“As members and volunteers alongside Rhidale Dotson in A Theory of Change, a grassroots organization, we extend our deepest support and respect to Rhidale, who continues to inspire change and justice, not as a set of abstract principles but as a daily practice. Notwithstanding Rhidale’s impressive achievements for internal prison reform to better the lives of himself and other incarcerated people, his vision of justice is an inclusive one. In A Theory of Change, Rhidale continues to collaborate with and support misfits and those on the margins into realizing the true and actionable potential for a world where poverty, prison and prejudice have much less power to cause immediate and generational harms. In A Theory of Change, our mission is in line with these principles as we aim to create legitimate first chances, contribute to actionable opportunities for hope and realize the universal appreciation of human dignity both behind bars and beyond. We are grateful to work alongside Rhidale in this mission and support his emancipation so he can live to the potential he deserves outside of prison. Indeed, Rhidale continues to show to us and others around him the value of community, trust, and growth through his conversations, ventures, and actions.”

Collective Testimonial, A Theory of Change

“I have been working with Rhidale Dotson for a few months now and am constantly learning from him and his process of betterment. Working together means long phone calls which typically include a discussion of our various dreams and aspirations, of which there are no dearth thanks in large part to Rhidale’s encouragement and creativity. Many of these conversations are focused on how to continuously better ourselves, and as an aspiring researcher, my professional and intellectual development is a top priority. Rhidale understands that and is always willing to lend a helping hand and some great advice from his seemingly endless mental library of books, articles, and critical thought. Rhidale makes growing a collaborative process, and as we evolve together, his input has been invaluable.”


Ediz Ozelkan, Ph.D. Student, Media Studies, University of Colorado-Boulder 

“I reached out to Rhidale after reading Joel Warner’s article about him in the Westword, originally hoping to collaborate on a biopic screenplay. I never expected the impact that letter would have on my life. Three years later, through the process of learning his incredible story, we created a life-long bond and started the grassroots organization A Theory of Change together. Rhidale is a role model, mentor and friend, not only to me, but to the many other people that have come on board to get A Theory of Change started. He continues to impress me with his deep understanding of the human condition while never losing faith that we can overcome life’s greatest challenges.”


Lauren Hart, Film Student, Co-Founder and President of A Theory of Change