Miss USA 2020 Asya Branch, 23, visited Bedford-Stuyvesant on Wednesday, July 14 to tell children of incarcerated parents and their families about her years growing up with a father in prison.
Branch was born in Detroit, Michigan and raised in a small Mississippi town, the sixth of eight siblings. After becoming the first African-American to win the Miss Mississippi title, she was crowned Miss USA in November 2020 in the competition originally scheduled for the spring of 2020 but postponed due to the pandemic.
She came to Brooklyn to tour Children of Promise, NYC (CPNYC) — an organization that provides support to the children of incarcerated parents and their families through child-centered, trauma-informed programming and activities.
“I wish I had an organization like Children of Promise during my childhood to deal with the trauma of having my father incarcerated for ten years of my life,” said Brand. “I now use my voice and platform to make a difference in the lives of these children and their parents.”
Through the various pageants, Branch has been open about the challenges her family faced due to mass incarceration, and has been an advocate for criminal justice reform.
CPNYC has successfully developed an innovative model, distinct within New York City, which co-locates a licensed mental health clinic and a comprehensive array of youth services in its Bed-Stuy and South Bronx locations.