Woman Previously Incarcerated Passes Bar Exam on First Try: ‘I Passed, I Passed!’

by Gee NY
Afrika Owes

Afrika Owes, a former inmate from New York City, has defied the odds by passing the New York Bar Exam on her first attempt.

Her remarkable achievement comes after a tumultuous journey, marked by incarceration and personal struggles.

In a heartwarming TikTok video that has since gone viral, Owes is seen surrounded by loved ones as she anxiously checks her exam results online.

The tension breaks when she discovers she has passed, eliciting tears of joy and exclaiming, “I passed! I passed!”

Owes, now 30 years old, proudly shared her story, highlighting her path from incarceration to becoming a successful law student. Raised in Harlem, she was inspired by her late mother’s community advocacy work, nurturing a childhood dream of becoming a lawyer.


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

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However, Owes faced adversity early on, becoming involved in a gang at 17 and subsequently facing criminal charges. Despite these challenges, she remained steadfast in her determination to pursue higher education and achieve her goals.

Supported by her family and community, Owes completed college under probation and eventually enrolled in law school at Fordham University. Her success in passing the bar exam serves as a testament to her resilience and perseverance.

“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 ABC News, reflecting on the unwavering support she received. “I want my story to be a testament to that, for communities as well, that everybody makes mistakes.”

As she looks forward to graduating from law school and specializing in tax law, Owes hopes to inspire others facing similar challenges to pursue their dreams.

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