A former neo-Nazi, Angela King, says her life was radically changed after she was befriended by a group of black Jamaican women while she was serving time in prison. Thanks to their compassion, she said in an interview with BBC News, she was able to let go of feelings of prejudice and hatred that had dominated her for most of her life — and was even able to embrace her homosexuality, and begin a relationship with a black woman.
King, the eldest daughter of conservative parents in Florida, said she had struggled with weight as a child and endured bullying from her fellow students. Making things even harder, she said, was that she realized “very early on” that she “was attracted to people of the same sex” — a tendency that her mother had warned her was “abnormal.”
“I knew I had to keep it to myself,” King recalled. “My mother used to say to me, ‘I will never stop loving you … except you better never bring home a black person or a woman.”
As a teenager, King joined a violent white extremist group, began dating a neo-Nazi, and, together with her boyfriend began, participating in brawls, robberies, and hate crimes. But she found her second chance in life, she said, after she wound up in a Miami prison. A group of Jamaican women asked her if she wanted to play cards — it wasn’t long, she said, until she realized that they had become friends.
One day, a new inmate arrived at the detention center — another black Jamaican woman, who was far less understanding about King’s past than her new friends were.
“One day as I passed, she asked: ‘How do you even get to be like that?’ I stopped and answered her as fully and honestly as I could.” As the two talked more and more, they realized that were more similar, despite their outward differences, than they ever would have expected before their arrival in prison.
“We realized we had fallen in love with each other,” King said. “We were like, ‘How on Earth did this happen?”
The two began a serious lesbian relationship — the first for each of them. And outside of prison, King went go on to study sociology and psychology, become an activist, and works to help others escape the trap of violent extremism. Below, watch her deliver a speech from 2009 about how she turned her life completely around.
Read the full story at BBC News.