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Aswad Thomas, is the current Vice President of the Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ), National Director of ASJ’s flagship project, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice (CSSJ) and the author of a book titled, The Stars Represent You and Me.
As an African American male, and a surviving victim of violence, Aswad is well aware of the impacts of trauma and loss that many, in communities across the country have experienced and continue to live with. In 2009, he became the first male in his family to graduate from college. He was just three weeks from going to Europe, to play professional basketball, when he became a victim of gun violence. Two near-fatal gunshots to his back, not only ended his basketball career, but nearly ended his life. Driven by this traumatic experience, and his passion for helping others learn to deal with their own trauma, Aswad has dedicated his life to organizing communities, and helping to elevate the voices of those victims and their families, through both state and federal policymaking debates. Aswad has become one of the country’s leading policy experts on gun violence, criminal justice reform, and a leader in building coalitions across racial lines to advance safety. In his role, Aswad is dedicated to expanding ASJ’s national network of crime survivors, to include those most commonly affected by violence, most notably, young men of color.
Aswad’s story has been featured in the New York Times, Time Magazine, The Hill, New Yorker Magazine, NBC LX, NBC Nightly News, Huff Post, Chicago Tribune, Yahoo News, The Trace, Detroit Free Press, Hartford Courant, The Guardian, VICE, The Marshall Project, and dozens of other media outlets. He was recently named one of The Root’s 100 most influential African Americans of 2021. Aswad received a Master’s of Social Work, with a concentration in Community Organizing, and a focused area of study on Urban Issues, from the University of Connecticut and a B.A., in Business Management from Elms College.