Bar Exam

Viral video shows former Rikers Island inmate as she learns she passed bar exam on first try

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A woman who served six months in prison at Rikers Island in New York as a teenager passed the bar exam on the first try, a moment captured in a viral video posted to TikTok.

Afrika Owes, 30, learned that she passed the February exam April 25, report Black Enterprise, People and ABC News. She is scheduled to graduate from the Fordham University School of Law this month.

She will work at a large law firm in tax law after graduation.

The video shows Owes at her computer as she checks the results, while her brother stands behind her. She holds photos of her 4-year-old son, as well as her late mother and grandmother.

Owes told Good Morning America and People that she always wanted to be a lawyer. But when she was 17 years old, she was charged with being part of a gang-related conspiracy. She pleaded guilty in 2011 to charges of conspiracy and weapons possession.

Owes was placed on probation after her incarceration. A condition of her release was to complete two years of college. After completing that obligation, she was adjudicated a youthful offender, a status that could allow her conviction to be vacated and the record sealed, according to past coverage by the New York Times.

Owes’ church had posted bail for her. Owes told People that her family and community helped her succeed.

“I strayed from my path, but they made sure that I got right back on track. They didn’t judge me, and they never let me go,” Owes told Good Morning America.

Owes told People that she hopes that her story “inspires people to not think of themselves as outcasts in this space, but as superheroes.”

@afrika.owes Thank you to my angels, my momma, my grandma. Thank you for my son, my brother, my family and my tribe. I’m beyond happy to join the ranks of the 2% of Black women Attorneys in the U.S. #singlemom #attorney #blackattorney #lawyer ♬ golden hour - piano version - main character melodies
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