Mary Bennett is a Marymount College graduate. Within minutes, we’re transported into the most emotional memory of her childhood, the unexpected death of her father. This tragic event led her to move from Charleston, South Carolina to New York City, to live with her father’s sister. Her move echoes the migration of her aunt, a former sharecropper, and the Great Migration of millions of Black Americans from the South to cities in the East, Midwest and West.
Mary’s crime is non-violent, but her path to incarceration reveals multiple traumas rooted in America’s violent, racist history. We discuss her struggles with poverty, drug addiction, being forced to grow up too fast, physical abuse and self-esteem. Mary has a deep empathy for her mother’s experience as a sharecropper, how the hardship she survived made it hard for her to show her daughters love.