INCREDIBLE WOMEN I MET IN FEDERAL PRISON
by Jamila T. Davis
It was a sunny fall day in October of 2014, when I saw a pretty brown skin woman carry a pillow case filled with bedding and other personals up the hill that approached the Danbury Federal Prison Camp. This woman stood out because she entered the building from the wrong side.. With her make-up done to perfection, and neatly applied glamorous eyelashes, this new prisoner looked like she was coming to an event at a night club, rather than federal prison. From the way she commanded attention walking up the hill, I immediately recognized that she had a familiar swagger. Once she opened her mouth, I knew what it was, she was a sister from New York City.
After being formally introduced by a fellow inmate, I learned the woman's name was Sunshine-Smith Williams. She was from my hood, Queens, New York. Upon first site, we immediately hit it off! I talked to her for hours, as she caught me up on events that were happening in my hometown. Just when we were about to retire to bed, something told me to ask her what junior high she attended. To my surprise, she said Junior High School 231 in Springfield Gardens.
"Get out of here! My mother worked there." I anxiously responded.
"What is her name?" Sunshine asked
"Ms. Davis." I answered.
"Say word, she was my 7th grade English teacher! Yo, Ms. Davis was my favorite teacher. Your mom use to have me cracking up!" Sunshine said, as we both laughed.
From that moment on, we were both inseparable. For hours we would talk about life and our aspirations once we got out of prison. Sunshine told me how she always wanted to write a book, and how my mother inspired her to write. I suggested that she wait no longer and fulfill her dreams, and she was right on it! Over the course of less than 4 months, Sunshine wrote "Sunny 101: The 10 Commandments of A Boss Chick." Her book is written as a self-help guide for women who've encountered the many struggles that we've faced in life. I enjoyed watching Sunshine's drive and determination. She reminded me a lot of myself.
It was a cold January morning in 2015, and Sunshine was packed and ready to leave prison. I hated to see her go, but I knew her time was up, and she had something special that she needed to present to the world. From the day she left me, Sunshine remained true to her word. Every chance she has gotten, she has helped to keep my name alive, and reconnected me with many I lost touched with through the many years of my incarceration. More importantly, she took her book, which my mother helped her to publish, and she has touched the lives of thousands of women across the world through her writing.
Now that's a powerful story!
Sunshine, I just want to let you know that I love and appreciate everything that you have done for me, and I enjoy watching how you have developed. A lot of people talk about things, yet you make them happen! You are undoubtedly a true-to-life boss chick! For these reasons and more, I want to honor you as an incredible woman I met in federal prison. I love you Sis! xoxo