(wind blowing) (cloth flapping) (uplifting music) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ - [Narrator] You need to go all the way back to the beginning.
Nobody can tell you nothin' and it won't happen to me.
We were wild before we were women, didn't know this had happened before.
How we traversed an ocean of regrets, got caught up in a wolves' den of diasporas.
We were strangers in a depraved land, the world ending every day, needing to be rebuilt.
Each minute, a failed mission.
Each day, a drowning.
Each season, a shipwreck.
A jungle of years like deserts, stranded at the end of the world, stolen from ourselves.
There are more and more of us.
We have no uncles, we have no brothers, only sisters to our name.
Somebody's going to say it was a mistake, our freedom.
(phone ringing) - They were sentenced too young.
They hadn't fully developed, and therefore couldn't have made a conscious decision to commit the crime that landed them there in the first place.
Look it up, it's science.
I'm on hold, again.
- Look, it's okay.
We gotta keep going.
We don't have a choice.
(uplifting music) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ You must be the new girl.
I'll be the one giving you the tour today.
- There must be a mistake.
- Any word?
- [Sister] We lost the appeal.
- (sighs) What recourse do we have?
- [Sister] We can take it back to the states.
- All right, let's get started then.
Sorry about that.
This is where we strategize liberations for our community and for the women behind the wall.
Listen, I'm going to get you set up, all right, but I have to make a quick phone call.
Are you thirsty?
Okay, all right, come on.
(uplifting music) - The Command Center is the place that I dreamt of.
This is a place where girls can come for help.
I was sentenced to life without parole when I was 17.
They woke me up about 4:00 in the morning, because that's the protocol.
You are awakened and strip-searched, and then dressed, and placed on a van.
That ride was like, first it was three hours long.
I already knew that.
But knowing that I would never see Philly again, at least that was the last thing they said to me at city hall.
Going to another prison and being thrown in the population at such a young age, I was the youngest one on campus when I got there.
I guess I felt like, being up in the mountains, way, way up there.
I kept thinking about the farm they said I was gonna work on.
But just the thought of me not being able to walk again in the free world in Philadelphia stuck in my mind the whole ride, that they meant for me to die there.
I was sentenced to actually die there.
You know, I did the Al-Anon group, I did all that.
I got the help I needed.
Because at some point you got to forgive yourself as well as the people that you felt did you wrong.
Because see, without forgiveness, you will not ever, ever, ever grow.
And I had to forgive my mother.
See, that's where my forgiveness came in, I had to forgive her, to recognize the fact that she was also sick and suffering, to understand the part of forgiveness.
So once I forgave her, I understood what forgiveness meant to me.
And the laws were changed.
I said, "Okay, I've done everything that was required of me, so how do I convey this to the parole board?"
After being incarcerated for 35 years, I was finally eligible for parole.
The most prominent thing to me was the air.
Like I said before, the air was different.
The air felt different, it smelled different.
And I seen it, 'cause there was a storm coming.
It looked different, the air, just...
When they said, "Granger, head to the gatehouse," I'm like, "Wow."
Just me and my higher power and nature, walking to the gatehouse.
And that feeling, I don't think you could put it into words, so... but I'm going to try to convey my feelings: It felt like God was just hugging me.
But to see the snow coming, and knowing that I was gonna be in it on the other side of the fence, I'm ready to cry.
I didn't even feel the cold air.
It just felt like the most beautiful...
I smelled the most beautiful smell and feeling I ever felt in my life.
And I know we was getting 12 inches, so you think of 12 inches, you automatically get like, "Oh my god, we'll get snowed in."
No, that's not how I felt.
I felt like, this is my free snow.
This is my free snow.
(uplifting music) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ - I liked dancing because we could like be free and like express ourselves.
You know because when you're in jail, you can't let your guard down.
So we're not allowed to touch in prison.
If you're having a bad day and you come upon your friend and she's crying, and you're trying to comfort her and you want to hug her, you're not allowed to do that.
You will get disciplinary action against you.
You're not allowed to touch.
♪ ♪ They would let us braid hair in the yard, so we would smuggle a comb, and you know, we need grease and stuff for our hair, so we would smuggle that and we would go to the yard and do hair.
And then they stopped us from doing hair in the yard, so you know what we did, we came up, we got creative, we got people to stand up and we were behind them, and then when a guard will go by, we would, you know, get to braiding.
♪ ♪ You know, a song, we'd all get together, a group of women get together, we'd pick a song, a spiritual song, and we'd go through the words of the song before we'd even like dance to it.
And you know, we'd say the words and you know, talk about it, we'd discuss it, you know.
what the song means and what the words mean to us.
And then after that, we'd all get together and we'd make a dance to the song.
♪ ♪ When I was dancing in prison, I always felt free.
♪ ♪ Nothing but freedom for me.
(uplifting music) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ - What's your name?
I'm gonna tell you a little bit about my story.
My mom had passed away, I think I was going on 14 years old.
It was like a hole in my heart.
I didn't take it well, you know.
At that age, you lose your mom, you're like, "Out of all the mothers, why my mother?"
And in the mingle of things that was going on in my life, I have a son.
And then I went to jail, and I'm just walking down the hallway and my room was at the end of the hall, and all I could think about was, here I got, they gave me a life sentence.
You know... My son was only going on nine and a half months, he wasn't even a year yet.
He was close to a year.
And I walked down the hall and I remember saying to myself, "This is crazy."
I mean, I was still in shock, like, "Life?
How can I do this?"
And then they had it running concurrent with a weapon, two and a half to six.
I mean, really, though?
So I'm just thinking, going in the room, I go in the cell, they shut the door.
Unfamiliar place, people I'd never been around before that I had to adjust to.
Not knowing if I would get out, but praying that someday I would get out.
I didn't accept the fact that I'd never get out.
That never crossed my mind.
My son was in my life, we got a close relationship and all that, and I put in my mind that one day I'ma go home, but I'm saying it and years going by, four decades.
And I'm like, "Okay, 10 years.
Uh-oh, 30 years.
Oh, I still ain't get out."
In my heart I would say, I hope nothing happens to my son while I'm in here.
You know, and it was like I had a premonition or something, like I thought like something was going to happen, but I didn't never expect he would get killed.
Then when that law passed about the juveniles and Sharon Wiggins, which we call Peachy, she said, "Everybody, get your paperwork in because the pendulum is getting ready to swing, and you guys are gonna get out.
I might not be here to see it, but you guys is gonna get out."
And I was like, "Peachy, stop saying that.
You're gonna be here."
And sure enough, she wasn't.
She passed away.
She was our pioneer and the other older people that was there, Miss Phoebe and Miss Burton, all the old heads, as we called them, they kind of raised me up.
And we looked up to them.
To this day I still write those people.
I try to keep in contact with them and let 'em know they're not forgotten.
We're out here fighting for them and never give up.
(uplifting music) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ (buzzer buzzing) (buzzer buzzing) (buzzer buzzing) (buzzer buzzing) (wind blowing) (leaves crunching) (woman crying) (crying continues) (woman crying quietly) (forest sounds) (birds chirping) (wind blowing) (uplifting music) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ (water flowing) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ (water flowing) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ (birds chirping) (wind blowing) (wind blowing continues) (wind blowing continues) (wind blowing continues) (wind blowing continues) (wind blowing continues) (uplifting music) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪