by Leslie Coleman
“I am Donna – but, for twenty-seven years, I was inmate #86G0206. This is my story.” So begins Donna Hylton’s incredible memoir, A Little Piece of Light – the inspiring story of a woman who found redemption in the midst of violence and despair. Hylton, a Jamaican-American woman convicted of murder in the second degree and two counts of kidnapping in the first degree, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Hylton was paroled in 2012 after serving 27 years in prison.
In A Little Piece of Light, Hylton states that “for many of us, imprisonment began long before the day we registered in prison.” Overcoming personal trauma, fear, violence, and abuse was crucial for Hylton to grow and thrive during her incarceration. While an inmate in prison, Hylton earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Behavioral Sciences and a Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies and English Literature. Additionally, she was ordained as a Christian minister in 2011 before being paroled on January 17, 2012 from Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women. During her time in prison, Hylton spoke about the character she was able to build upon after forming a sisterhood with the other inmates. In an intimate interview with Hylton, she explains that “everyone has the capacity to change and to heal” – through the completion of her memoir, she “became the woman, the human being [she] was intended to be.”
Upon being released from Bedford Hills, Hylton has become a prominent humanitarian and criminal justice reform activist. In January 2017, she was a featured speaker at the Women’s March on Washington. Hylton states that her work as a humanitarian is to “share her truth with the world” and with every woman, “every person that has suffered abuse, violence and trauma” because “we will never heal or move forward if we do not acknowledge and understand the harm we cause others.”
Since 2013, Hylton has spoken to thousands of people across the United States and passionately advocates for women who have been victims of violence, abuse, and the criminal justice system.
UntitledTown 2020 is proud to feature Donna Hylton as a speaker on “Writing through Trauma” during our 2020 festival. Keep an eye out for our forthcoming schedule for more details!