This portrait of Joan Little was created for Project NIA 's exhibition "No Selves To Defend—10 Women Criminalized For Defending Themselves."
Joan Little is an amazing woman. In 1974 she was raped by a guard while being held for breaking and entering in a No. Carolina jail. Joan was 5'3" and 20 years old, the white jailer was 6' 200lb and attacked her with an ice pick. She fought him off, stabbed him with his own weapon 11 times, and broke herself out of jail. A week later she turned herself in, only to be convicted by an all-white jury and the DA on a first degree murder charge - which carried a possible death sentence. Black power, feminist and civil rights groups across the country came together to defend Joan and to defend incarcerated women's rights to their own bodies. They WON and in 1975 Joan Little became the first woman to be acquitted of a murder charge for self-defense in a case of sexual assault.