In 1974, Joan Little was charged with first degree murder after she stabbed a prison guard who sexually assaulted her at Beaufort County jail. Joan’s case became a national cause for prisoners’ rights advocates, feminists, people advocating against the death penalty and for racial justice. Protests about her case were widespread and global. After a five week trial, the jury, made up of both Black and white people, deliberated for less than 90 minutes before acquitting Little. It was the first time a woman was acquitted of murder on the grounds of of self-defense against sexual violence.
Today, there are many people like Joan Little, prosecuted because they defended themselves from sexual violence, domestic violence, racist and transphobic attacks, still in prison all over the US. Go to the Survived and Punished website to learn about these cases and get involved in supporting them.
This video was conceived by Mariame Kaba and narrated by CeCe McDonald. Directed and produced by Dean Spade and Hope Dector. Audio editing by Lewis Wallace. Visual art by Micah Bazant. Created by the Barnard Center for Research on Women and Survived and Punished.
Download the Survived and Punished toolkit for resources on starting a defense campaign:
Visit the Survived and Punished website to learn about ongoing campaigns for freedom: