A few months ago, a photo of a young Cyntoia Brown went viral. The Tennessee Supreme Court decided in December that Cyntoia Brown would be sentenced to 51 years in prison for murdering the man who solicited her for sex when she was only 16 years old.
The now 30-year-old Tennessee woman has been imprisoned since the incident in 2004. Explaining to the court that she had endured years of being forced into prostitution by a boyfriend at the time, Brown claimed to shoot the 43-year-old Johnny Mitchell Allen in self-defense. Her plea for justice was dismissed by the state court which convicted Brown as an adult to life in prison. Since then, Brown has appealed and tried to have her case overturned based on a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found that juveniles could not receive mandatory life sentences without parole. However, Tennessee courts pushed back claiming that she would only be eligible for parole after serving 51 years, which would leave her eligible at the age of 69.
Brown’s case caught the attention of many Black celebrities and high-profile artists, including Atlanta’s very own T.I., Future and others like Drake, Rihanna, Meek Mill and many others. With the use of their celebrity platforms, they rallied their social followers to contact Tennessee’s Governor Haslam to encourage him to grant Brown clemency. The efforts seemed to have worked and the power of social media prevails as Cyntoia Brown was granted clemency by Governor Haslam and her release date is set for August. Celebrities, and everyone on social media, continues to rejoice in this victory that sheds light on the injustices that black Americans and other sex-trafficking face today.