"If you hold your hand closed, nothing good can come in. The open hand is blessed, for it gives in abundance, even as it receives." - Biddy Mason
I am the second oldest descendant and 4th great-granddaughter of Biddy Mason, an American Hero, a California Social Work Hall of Distinction Honoree, and known to many as the Grandmother of Los Angeles. Biddy Mason was one of the first early pioneers of Los Angeles, as well as a successful real estate entrepreneur, midwife and nurse, and philanthropist. She also founded the First African Methodist Episcopal Church (F.A.M.E.) in Los Angeles. My grandmother inspires me everyday through her extraordinary story. She walked from Mississippi to Utah, then to Los Angeles, where she fought for and won her freedom through the court system in California in 1856. After she won her freedom she gave back to the community treating both black and white patients during her time as a midwife and nurse, as well as those no one else wanted to help, such as prisoners.
We are all products of our upbringing. I grew up learning about the work of my grandmother and her saying from my mother, which has been passed down from generation to generation: "If you hold your hand closed, nothing good can come in. The open hand is blessed, for it gives in abundance, even as it receives." Thus, it is probably no surprise that my research focuses on understanding various forms of inequality, and how to improve the lives of marginalized communities in general, and those disproportionately impacted by mass incarceration in particular. If you would like to learn more about my grandmother, please visit our family webpage.