(Reposted from vday.org)
Donna Hylton is a Jamaican-American author and criminal justice activist. She founded, A Little Piece of Light, the non-profit, which bears the same name as her book, both created out of her lived experience of 27 years of incarceration. Ms. Hylton pulled off a fantastic event in the community of Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Since her release, she has been a staunch advocate for the rights of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women, cis, trans, and those who hold fluid identities. Her work and dedication to this cause have led her to speak at the Women’s March in 2017, the Democratic National Convention video last year, and various legislative platforms to ensure prison safety and end mass incarceration. http://www.alittlepieceoflight.net
Preparation for this event began weeks ahead with food orders of hamburgers, franks, fish, steak, and an abundance of side dishes. The staff worked effortlessly, excited and enthusiastic for their first BBQ since opening in 2019 amid the pandemic that changed our lives forever, while social distancing was the order of the day. Flyers were created and sent out early via email and anyone in the neighborhood was encouraged to come in as they strolled by.
ALOP’s staff of formerly incarcerated women set up the grill, decorated the beautiful office, yard, and garden area with balloons, and filled the swag bags with treats, face masks, pens, and tote bags. Invited guests included the neighborhood and people impacted by the prison industrial complex who enjoyed a day of food, fun, and celebration.
It was a beautiful May day, the sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky, as women who haven’t had the opportunity to see one another, some for years since being released, came together, reunited, reconnected, shared, and exchanged pictures and contact information reminisced about the days behind the bars, and shared what they are doing now.
A few men’s organizations stopped by as well to support ALOP.
We laughed, danced to the music while eating, drinking, making new friends and enjoying coming together after the long isolation of Covid-19 and celebrated a long-overdue birthday for one of our sisters Bella with a beautiful and delicious cake.
As the day came to a close people were given plates of food to take home, handed swag bags, we said our goodbyes, kissed, hugged (something we were restricted from doing in prison and since Covid), and committed to staying in touch. A wonderful day of freedom in the neighborhood of Bed Stuy, Brooklyn.