Today is International Women's Day. In its 101st observance, this year, we honor women past, present and future, with an interview with three women: Mama Naomi Diouf, Artistic Director of Diamano Coura West African Dance Company, celebrating the 17th Anniversary of Collage de Africaines, beginning today, March 8-11, 2012, at the Malonga Casquelord Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice Street, Oakland, CA. The second woman is Mama Lola Hanif, founder of Sacred Space Spiritual Support Group, third Thursdays monthly, at 2147 Broadway, Oakland, 4-6 p.m. For the past five years this Sacred Space has hosted over 130 African American women in a spiritually-based, emotionally safe and supportive environment for African American women to gather, network, experience a sense of community. Sacred Space serves as a means of advocating healthy, peaceful African American families. The third woman we feature is one whose voice was formally silenced behind prison walls. Convicted as a child, LaKeisha Burton, born and raised in Compton, spent 18 years in California Institute for Women (CIW) when at 15 she was arrested and tried as an adult and sentenced to life plus 9 years consecutively, which meant she had to serve 9 years first and then life—she was first at youth authority at Camillo in Southern California, for 90 observation where they recommended she stay in the juvenile facility. The sentencing judge said no, send her to prison. In CIW—she was the youngest person there, so she was in a segregated housing unit or in solitary confinement until she turned 18. She served 18 years before release in 2006. No one died. Ironically, she met her victim in CIW, asked for and received her forgiveness. The victim, who killed someone, was released from CIW after 9 years.Visit www.womenprisoners.org
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