Going to prison can change your entire life. Even if you’re released from prison, being locked up
can have lasting traumatic effects. That’s why a healthy support system, the right resources and community are vital to life after imprisonment.

At the 2022 Essence Fest Beauty Carnival, three formerly-incarcerated women took the stage to have a necessary conversation about loving yourself after lockdown. Syrita Steib, founder of Operation Restoration, a nonprofit
that supports women and girls impacted by incarceration, led the Sunday morning discussion. Joining her on the stage were motivational speaker, author and success coach Estella Dior, and transgender women’s rights advocate Wendi Cooper

WATCH: Three Formerly Incarcerated Black Women Open Up About Life After Prison

The courageous women shared motivational advice, opened up about transitioning back into society after prison and spoke about their plans for the future. Steib is currently running for the U.S. Senate and Cooper is featured in a documentary film titled CANS Can’t Stand, which follows a group of Black trans women in New Orleans who are fighting to repeal the discriminatory Crime Against Nature law. In case you missed the informative discussion, here are the six main takeaways.

What Leads Women To Prison Is Trauma – Syrita Steib
“Going through seeing women that were broken and hurting, I understood that the statistics started with the traumatic experiences that we experience. So I wanted to be that vehicle that was able to show others that you can excel no matter what you’ve been through.”

Don’t Allow Your Past To Define Who You AreEstella Diore
“In order for you to move on, you have to be able to embrace and accept what was done.”

WATCH: Three Formerly Incarcerated Black Women Open Up About Life After Prison

The Impact Of Incarceration Stretches Beyond The IncarceratedWendi Cooper
“I am a mother of six. My parenting did not stop behind those walls. I had to find ways to
navigate through. As mothers, our kids are doing that time with us.”

Re-power vs Empower – Estella Diore
“I have a friend that says, you can’t empower anybody. You can help them find the power
that already exists inside of them and re-power them.”

Perspective Makes All The Difference – Syrita Steib
“I’m not a convicted felon, I’m a returning citizen.”

Check out the full conversation in the video above. For more of everything you missed at the 2022 ESSENCE Festival of Culture, visit our official video content hub HERE