Sex-trafficked, enslaved & imprisoned in childhood: Author Cyntoia Brown-Long to share her story Texas Tech banquet

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Cory Powell, director at the Office of Institutional Diversity at TTU, interviewed on KLBK Bright & Early about Texas Tech’s annual Celebrate Diversity Banquet.

Cyntoia Brown-Long is an author, speaker and advocate for criminal justice reform will deliver the keynote remarks at the annual event, which recognizes those who exemplify inclusive excellence.

Brown-Long will share her story in the hopes that it will not only inspire others, but also shine a light on the injustice people still face on a daily basis, especially the injustice to women and children in American prisons.

Her memoir, “Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System,” was written while she was in prison and released in 2019. It will be available for purchase at the event, and a book-signing will immediately follow the banquet.

The memoir documents her life before prison and the 15 years she spent incarcerated. It is set against the backdrop of a life behind bars, the injustice of sentencing sex-trafficked juveniles as adults and Long-Brown’s struggle to overcome a family legacy of addiction and a lifetime of being ostracized and abandoned by society.

Past speakers for the banquet include Edward James Olmos, Terrence Howard, Soledad O’Brien, John Quiñones, former U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, Grace Gealey-Byers, Michael Benitez and Ana Navarro.

“The Celebrate Diversity Banquet provides a unique opportunity to bring in noted individuals whose lives and work have had a significant impact on private and public conversations, thinking, policy and practice, and ways in which our communities can be more inclusive to those who might often get overlooked or are simply ignored,” said Carol A. Sumner, chief diversity officer and vice president of the Texas Tech Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. “Having Cyntoia Brown-Long as our keynote speaker will bring awareness to an issue that has history and significance in our Lubbock community while simultaneously providing hope and possibility in real terms. We are honored to have her and know her address will affirm that one person with hope can change lives, policy and our national discourse.”

Three local leaders also will receive recognition at the dinner. This year’s recipient of the Sen. Robert L. Duncan Community Champion Award is Glenda Mathis, executive director of the Lubbock YWCA. Inclusive Excellence Awards will be presented to two Texas Tech employees: Rob Stewart, senior vice provost in the Office of the Provost, and Jody C. Randall, director of the Office of LGBTQIA Education & Engagement.

Proceeds from the banquet benefit student scholarships. General tickets are $75 and VIP tickets are $100. Tables of eight are available for $1,000, $1,500, $3,000, $5,000 and $7,500 sponsorships.

(Press release courtesy Texas Tech University.)

For event details, click the video above.

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