Cyntoia Brown-Long Shares Story of Redemption at AUM’s MLK Breakfast

It’s been less than six months, since Cyntoia Brown-Long walked out of a Tennessee prison, and she’s wasted no time in sharing her story.

“The Lord can bring you out of the lowest places, and he can elevate you,” she said Tuesday, just after speaking to a crowd at Auburn University Montgomery’s Martin Luther King Jr. 2020 Reflection Breakfast.

She was 16 when she was sentenced to life in prison for killing a man who had solicited her for sex. Many learned her name after celebrities and other high-profile people used their star power to shed light to her case in 2017 — advocating for her freedom.

After years of appealing her first-degree murder charge (which carries an automatic life sentence in Tennessee), she was granted clemency in January 2019 and released in August.  She’s now dedicated to using her second chance to do the same for others.

“When people started talking about my case, you’re not only talking about Cyntoia… You’re talking about all the other people that you may never know, that you may never see who are going through the same exact situation,” she explained.  On the heels of MLK Jr. Day, she shared how Dr. King’s message has inspired her to continue being a voice for the voiceless.

“With people seeing me free and walking around, don’t think that its over,” she said. “Don’t think that it’s done or that you need to stop having these conversations.” Instead, Brown-Long said she hopes her story is a constant reminder that the work is far from over.

Brown-Long has written a book titled “Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System,” and she signed copies Tuesday.

AUM officials said Brown-Long helped draw in the largest crowd that the school has ever had for its annual MLK  Reflection Breakfast. The event had to be moved into the university’s Athletics Complex to accommodate about 750 people.

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