NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Cyntoia Brown-Long, who was released from prison in August, shared a message of transformation, appreciation and motivation on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Brown-Long engaged in a wide-ranging discussion Monday with Judge Richard Dinkins at the state museum in Nashville, The Tennessean reported.
Championed by celebrities as a symbol of unfair sentencing, Brown-Long was released last year from the Tennessee Prison for Women, where she had been serving a life sentence for killing a man who had picked her up for sex at 16.
Kim Kardashian West, Rihanna, Snoop Dogg and LeBron James had lobbied for her release, calling her a sex trafficking victim. She was granted clemency last January by outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam, who cited her rehabilitation behind bars and youth at the time of the crime.
Dinkins frequently tied Brown-Long’s experience with the work and message of King.
“Martin Luther King had a social justice ministry,” he said. “You are here about social justice.”
Brown-Long said King’s message was to get people to see one another.
“For so much of my life, I had never felt seen,” she said.
She said that as she went through the criminal justice system, many prosecutors and judges did not see her as a person and she wants to help others in similar circumstances who are still incarcerated.
“I want them to see that I’m not just, you know, some miraculous occurrence. There are thousands of people who are just like me in there.”
Brown-Long later told reporters that she was working on legislation with state Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, that would help juveniles.