How I learned to read — and trade stocks — in prison | Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll

I was 14 years old inside of a bowling alley, burglarizing an arcade game, and upon exiting the building a security guard grabbed my arm, so I ran. I ran down the street,
and I jumped on top of a fence. And when I got to the top, the weight of 3,000 quarters
in my book bag pulled me back down to the ground. So when I came to, the security guard
was standing on top of me, and he said, “Next time you little punks
steal something you can carry.” (Laughter) I was taken to juvenile hall and when I was released
into the custody of my mother, the first words my uncle said was,
“How’d you get caught?” I said, “Man, the book bag was too heavy.” He said, “Man, you weren’t supposed
to take all the quarters.” I said, “Man, they were small.
What am I supposed to do?” And 10 minutes later, he took me
to burglarize another arcade game. We needed gas money to get home. That was my life. I grew up in Oakland, California, with my mother and members
of my immediate family addicted to crack cocaine. My environment consisted
of living with family, friends, and homeless shelters. Oftentimes, dinner was served
in breadlines and soup kitchens. The big homey told me this: money rules the world and everything in it. And in these streets, money is king. And if you follow the money, it’ll lead you to the bad guy
or the good guy. Soon after, I committed my first crime, and it was the first time
that I was told that I had potential and felt like somebody believed in me. Nobody ever told me
that I could be a lawyer, doctor or engineer. I mean, how was I supposed to do that?
I couldn’t read, write or spell. I was illiterate. So I always thought
crime was my way to go. And then one day I was talking to somebody and he was telling me
about this robbery that we could do. And we did it. The reality was that I was growing up in the strongest
financial nation in the world, the United States of America, while I watched my mother
stand in line at a blood bank to sell her blood for 40 dollars
just to try to feed her kids. She still has the needle marks
on her arms to day to show for that. So I never cared about my community. They didn’t care about my life. Everybody there was doing what they
were doing to take what they wanted, the drug dealers,
the robbers, the blood bank. Everybody was taking blood money. So I got mine by any means necessary. I got mine. Financial literacy
really did rule the world, and I was a child slave to it following the bad guy. At 17 years old, I was arrested
for robbery and murder and I soon learned that finances in prison
rule more than they did on the streets, so I wanted in. One day, I rushed to grab
the sports page of the newspaper so my cellie could read it to me, and I accidentally
picked up the business section. And this old man said,
“Hey youngster, you pick stocks?” And I said, “What’s that?” He said, “That’s the place
where white folks keep all their money.” (Laughter) And it was the first time
that I saw a glimpse of hope, a future. He gave me this brief description
of what stocks were, but it was just a glimpse. I mean, how was I supposed to do it? I couldn’t read, write or spell. The skills that I had developed
to hide my illiteracy no longer worked in this environment. I was trapped in a cage,
prey among predators, fighting for freedom I never had. I was lost, tired, and I was out of options. So at 20 years old, I did the hardest thing
I’d ever done in my life. I picked up a book, and it was the most agonizing
time of my life, trying to learn how to read, the ostracizing from my family, the homeys. It was rough, man. It was a struggle. But little did I know I was receiving the greatest gifts
I had ever dreamed of: self-worth, knowledge, discipline. I was so excited to be reading that I read
everything I could get my hands on: candy wrappers, clothing logos,
street signs, everything. I was just reading stuff! (Applause) Just reading stuff. I was so excited to know how to read
and know how to spell. The homey came up, said,
“Man, what you eating?” I said, “C-A-N-D-Y, candy.” (Laughter) He said, “Let me get some.”
I said, “N-O. No.” (Laughter) It was awesome. I mean, I can actually now
for the first time in my life read. The feeling that I got
from it was amazing. And then at 22, feeling myself, feeling confident, I remembered what the OG told me. So I picked up the business section
of the newspaper. I wanted to find these rich white folks. (Laughter) So I looked for that glimpse. As I furthered my career in teaching others how to
financially manage money and invest, I soon learned that I had to take
responsibility for my own actions. True, I grew up
in a very complex environment, but I chose to commit crimes, and I had to own up to that. I had to take responsibility
for that, and I did. I was building a curriculum
that could teach incarcerated men how to manage money
through prison employments. Properly managing our lifestyle
would provide transferrable tools that we can use to manage money
when we reenter society, like the majority of people did
who didn’t commit crimes. Then I discovered that according to MarketWatch, over 60 percent of the American population has under 1,000 dollars in savings. Sports Illustrated said that
over 60 percent of NBA players and NFL players go broke. 40 percent of marital problems
derive from financial issues. What the hell? (Laughter) You mean to tell me
that people worked their whole lives, buying cars, clothes,
homes and material stuff but were living check to check? How in the world were members of society
going to help incarcerated individuals back into society if they couldn’t manage they own stuff? We screwed. (Laughter) I needed a better plan. This is not going to work out too well. So … I thought. I now had an obligation
to meet those on the path and help, and it was crazy because
I now cared about my community. Wow, imagine that.
I cared about my community. Financial illiteracy is a disease that has crippled minorities
and the lower class in our society for generations and generations, and we should be furious about that. Ask yourselves this: How can 50 percent
of the American population be financially illiterate in a nation
driven by financial prosperity? Our access to justice, our social status, living conditions, transportation and food are all dependent on money
that most people can’t manage. It’s crazy! It’s an epidemic and a bigger danger to public safety
than any other issue. According to the California
Department of Corrections, over 70 percent of those incarcerated have committed or have been charged
with money-related crimes: robberies, burglaries,
fraud, larceny, extortion — and the list goes on. Check this out: a typical incarcerated person would enter the California prison system with no financial education, earn 30 cents an hour, over 800 dollars a year, with no real expenses and save no money. Upon his parole, he will be given
200 dollars gate money and told, “Hey, good luck, stay out of trouble.
Don’t come back to prison.” With no meaningful preparation
or long-term financial plan, what does he do … ? At 60? Get a good job, or go back to the very criminal behavior
that led him to prison in the first place? You taxpayers, you choose. Well, his education
already chose for him, probably. So how do we cure this disease? I cofounded a program that we call Financial Empowerment
Emotional Literacy. We call it FEEL, and it teaches how do you separate
your emotional decisions from your financial decisions, and the four timeless rules
to personal finance: the proper way to save, control your cost of living, borrow money effectively and diversify your finances
by allowing your money to work for you instead of you working for it. Incarcerated people need these life skills
before we reenter society. You can’t have full rehabilitation
without these life skills. This idea that only professionals
can invest and manage money is absolutely ridiculous, and whoever told you that is lying. (Applause) A professional is a person who knows his craft better than most, and nobody knows how much money
you need, have or want better than you, which means you are the professional. Financial literacy is not a skill,
ladies and gentlemen. It’s a lifestyle. Financial stability is a byproduct
of a proper lifestyle. A financially sound incarcerated person
can become a taxpaying citizen, and a financially sound
taxpaying citizen can remain one. This allows us to create a bridge
between those people who we influence: family, friends and those young people who still believe
that crime and money are related. So let’s lose the fear and anxiety of all the big financial words and all that other nonsense
that you’ve been out there hearing. And let’s get to the heart
of what’s been crippling our society from taking care of your responsibility
to be better life managers. And let’s provide a simple
and easy to use curriculum that gets to the heart, the heart of what financial empowerment
and emotional literacy really is. Now, if you’re sitting out here
in the audience and you said, “Oh yeah, well, that ain’t me
and I don’t buy it,” then come take my class — (Laughter) so I can show you how much money
it costs you every time you get emotional. (Applause) Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause)

100 comments on “How I learned to read — and trade stocks — in prison | Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll”

  1. Compilation Station says:

    who is this Dave Chappelle with the blue

  2. Inspctr Gdgt says:


  3. Tina's baby says:

    A.W.E.S.O.M.E, as always!!!

  4. two toenail says:

    Money is the root of all evil. Leave it alone bruh

  5. Invisible Souldier says:

    Yes, but the lesson here is that he should have learned how to read BEFORE GOING TO PRISON. Better late than never, but It doesn't take a genius to learn how to trade stocks, but better to learn to trade stocks than to slang rocks!

  6. Mike Newman says:

    This man is a true warrior

  7. napischu says:

    Dude forgot to take the clothes hangers out of his shirts.

  8. Jude Ero says:

    1.5k downvotes ? Racism is alive and well folks.

  9. Sora Ksr says:

    I love the way he speaks out because it is like a heart to heart talk, very relatable & comforting. A very different way of other speakers at Ted talks I have seen.

  10. troy troy says:

    Perfect example of….. What God has for you is for you! When God moves He moves! Great job well done my man.

  11. Awesome Andre says:

    Amazing how much money controls our lived, when it was designed to be a tool in our society, now it’s an anchor.
    Perhaps it was designed to do what is doing, which is creating poverty, and lots of wealth for a few.

  12. Seven4life says:

    this guy is a genius.

  13. 300.Gucci Gang says:

    Tbh this is propaganda prisons are still horriblr

  14. Adam Kerwin says:

    Typical prison “wise man” know it all. Loser

  15. Andy daniel says:

    Schools can not teach you how to make money and opportunity is only a chance to success, i was losing money until i met Mr. Daniel ([email protected] ) who through him i change my financial status

  16. Zachary Lawrence says:

    I thought convicted felons weren't allowed to trade stock

  17. Jonathan Rice says:

    This was really amazing

  18. Jhk says:

    White people: how learned to get rich

    Black people: how I learned to read

  19. Positive Mentality says:

    The prison life didn't choose him. The stock market life choose him

  20. Arun Kumaran says:

    In all these years, this is the BEST Ted Talk I have ever seen

  21. Astro Queen says:

    Listening to this gave me chills. Wow! I have no excuse.

  22. Alex Lee says:

    How come most schools don't teach you how to invest or file taxes? Instead, they devote so much time and resources on subjects that you are most likely never gonna use.

  23. Mosi Sydney says:

    Curtis Carroll for president 2020. Got a really nice ring to it.

  24. The Minas Parable says:


  25. Dave Black says:

    I wonder how many brilliant men will never know just how brilliant they are

  26. Robert Bowman says:

    This guys should serve as a motivation for a lot of our young folks, Very powerful. A lot of people don't realize how much money that can be made through trading stocks or any other related markets, I wish young men would begin to see the need to invest one way or the other, I have a financial adviser who i've invested in, Jordan Arnold is his name, he trades stocks and forex for me in my mini account, this way i earn over $20,000 in profit monthly and this i still regard as my side hustle as i work my real Job.

  27. heWhois N8 says:

    He also learned to dress in prison

  28. Fraser couper says:

    He’s wearing the same stuff as franklin does in gta v lol

  29. Neo Cortex says:


  30. Russell S says:

    I was going to criticize him for doing something that most people in our society do. They blame society for their living conditions and for staying poor. Always easy to blame the govt and the society. But this guy (at 5:30 mins) took personal responsibility and did something to change his environment. If the system is corrupt, then you educate yourself properly and change the system. Yes, you are 1 person, but after you 1 more will follow, then 2 more, then 4 more, then …. 10 million more. And system could be changed. Cannot blame it on growing up in a poor neighbourhood and do nothing. It doesnt depend solely on the colour of your skin. Not all white people are born in luxury. We were immigrants and i was a kid when we came and i had nothing and my neighbourhood wasnt the best. But if you stay ambitious and keep your eye on the prize, you can reach even beyond your initial target. Nobody was helping me because of the colour of my skin. I had to fight for everything i wanted. Look at the "Rock". He came from nothing as well, on pure determination. So, please spare me your excuses that people have. Keep quite and stay focused, and though shall receive it.

  31. vishal jaravta says:

    Background music of Ted has been taken from Sherlock BBC series… I think so?

  32. vishal jaravta says:

    If at the age of 20 you pick up book then how is it possible that you are talking fluently
    Made another Ted Talk 😂

  33. Shane Miller says:

    Click bait bs, he didn’t speak about learning to trade stocks in prison. The headline is BS.

  34. Nelson Villalona says:

    Free this man!! If prisons are there to rehabilitate criminals, this has just proved he is ready to enter society.

  35. Manish VIBES says:

    Everything about India's education is wrong. This Man is an example of a Lotus that can Bloom in mud

  36. 007DarthMan says:

    At first, thought the title said "Trade Socks", was not expecting the story I heard! XD

  37. Michael De santa says:

    This proves that the education system is not for everyone oh and in case yall didn't know general education board was created by John D Rockefeller

  38. Exquisimagic says:

    Wow what a story

  39. GuinnessandPizza says:

    How to learn to read and trade stocks in prison, Step 1: Spread Dem cheex

  40. D Marler says:

    God bless you son

  41. D Marler says:

    This kid is fucking brilliant. I've been down. He's one in a million

  42. D Marler says:

    Fucking brilliant

  43. Eber Hardt says:

    Started crying over the thruth in his words and self courage he´s got…. Then just bought me some way too expensive clothes to get over it 😉

  44. P A says:

    High school didn't even teach me how to sign a check

  45. Ev Cap says:

    How I learned to read stocks ???? how old are you ?


    Impeach the "45 IN-volver"…
    Curtis Carroll for Prez!

  47. D B says:

    He found out about the black market. 😉

  48. dddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd says:

    The Game???

  49. gvr Hdy says:

    You trade stocks in prison, YA RIGHT!!!!

  50. Toni Capone says:

    What Jay-Z talked about in The Story of OJ is real. Financial literacy needs to become more popular.

  51. denver bevins says:

    I pray that he maintains his financial lifestyle on the outside. He really needs to write a book before he gets out.

  52. Kami Ore says:

    Affirmative action in real life situations. The matrix Does wonders 😂. The irony is so sad its funny now

  53. TheTread123 says:

    Next step for him is watching London Real with an ex banker interviewing Robert Kiyosaki teaching the truth about money.

  54. John Doe says:

    Now this dude is woke.

  55. Jessica Thompson says:

    He stole that joke from Kevin Hart 😂

  56. Kathleen Logan says:

    So true. School never talked about money. The thing we need the most.

  57. Christus Terran says:

    Blacks discriminate themselves

  58. Salman Ismail says:

    "train app is such a sick app" f u and your app. YouTube fix up.

  59. Karen M says:

    This guy is brilliant…in his own right. Standing ovation from me.

  60. Equitable Apple says:

    He learned to read and Gamble

  61. Joanta Holmes says:


  62. Tammy Windley says:

    wow!! you are an amazing gentleman. your determination inspired me!

  63. tom smith says:

    If there were serious programs at keeping people out and re-educating them then we would have a lot less people in prison, however we have more people in prison due to us being in a capitalist society where the system only wants people in prisons and providing more jobs and money for the prison industrial complex.

  64. Ayfayyy says:

    When I see the number of dislikes… it makes me realise how screwed up society is becoming!

  65. Termaine Thomas says:

    This is problematic.

  66. John Blakeney says:

    Dude, can I take you class!!?

  67. Tony Collins says:

    Keep faith, hope, believe ,learn,stay positive, love your neighbour, one day at a time, read ,write, sing, God Bless Abundantly from Scotland

  68. z says:

    … and you make money telling lies to naive public.. those who can trade don't waste their precious time going to one place to another, organizing, preparing and lecturing others

  69. M W says:

    Yes Sir✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾

  70. Tom Smitg says:

    The 1.6k 👎 is the less then 1% that owns 99% of the world's 💰

  71. Money Man says:

    Keep doing what you doing my man's…much respect

  72. Money Man says:

    How can I meet you curtis?

  73. Vigor Berschow says:

    Someone please hire this guy when he’s out of jail. That was amazing

  74. hevert pacheco says:

    Wow, I just thought, sold my damn weekend car, and I regret selling it, and I feel that I can spend twice that spent on building it to feel better, until this…. 💪🏼💪🏼💪🏼💪🏼

  75. Dondrey Taylor says:

    This guy is such a gem. Truly inspiring in the way he found it in himself to pursue financial literacy after being surrounded by a society and environment that had failed him. Beyond doubt rehabilitated.

  76. King Louie says:

    so he came with his prison clothes to do a ted Talk. like the guy but ted Talk became a joke and sucks

  77. franklin taylor says:

    …Whatever, Goddamn Fucking Degenerate Hoodlum…

  78. Lucky Dube says:


  79. Luis Rivera says:

    Anyone know of a good video that shows you about stock and trade? Been in my interest but I just can’t seem to understand it to well

  80. Nathan Blades says:

    This mans story is extraordinary and day trading is the way to go IMO

  81. Nathan Blades says:

    I grew up like this thank God he saved me and so I never went to prison and was able to come out on top in the end

  82. Harry De Montechristo says:

    The legend lives! Man.I would like to correspondanr with this dude,.I know nothing.about investing in the stock market! Help me brah!

  83. thatjlyn says:

    Amazing man. We need more black men volunteering with Junior Achievement or teaching his class in the grade and middle schools. Prevention and planning.

  84. pipzky says:

    he really from the streets

  85. Kyle F says:

    if you're going to get into the stock market, either safe dividends, index funds, or long term investing are your choices. i still can't say for sure if consistently profitable stock trading is a real thing, but it's looking more and more like it isn't. if it was, everyone would be doing it. people would sell and use automated systems if it was possible and get crazy rich making millions. so it's not making sense to me yet, i'm not going to believe just because I want to believe, that's not the smart thing to do and unless I see proof (atleast a year's worth of trades in an actual released statement) then i'll believe it.

  86. robert wheeler says:

    to bad the person he killed wont get a second chance

  87. Kristine Kristine and Peter says:

    He can also become a comedian.

  88. The Mandinka Family says:

    Beautiful. Just beautiful

  89. Ben Wright says:

    Having a trading strategy that ensures over 80-90% winning rate isn't a bad one. Mr Dwight's trading strategy is something else.

  90. Pete pagano says:

    Great talk, but are those cloths hangers inside his shirt??

  91. Fila Phil says:

    Amazing he told me to invest in Alibaba 💯 now I'm winning

  92. jukodebu says:

    he aint blaming the man punk talkin like white

  93. D 1080 says:

    Thumbs down by 1.6K rich white folks!

  94. Joel Ventura says:

    He's so wise.

  95. Celeste B says:

    Man this guy got me to chuckle on a crappy day in my life. Brilliant. Love this guy.

  96. kbrigsby61 says:

    The answer to his question — posed at the beginning is: American "Financial-illiteracy" is, 'BY-DESIGN'!!! The filthy-rich 'elites' want us to be UN-informed, because, they get wealthier EVERY year that way. annnnd we stay poor. It's NOT rocket-science. It's passive & forced educational-repression. Duhhh!!

  97. Oceano_ Rodriguez says:

    Your mama was a ho. State needs to kill him.

  98. Renad Gharzeddine says:

    Prison institutionalization is a real issue

  99. Nurul Asyikin says:

    5:42 spitting lines like a knife! Outstanding delivery and quite a poetic one!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *