‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’: Hartford local Aswad Thomas pens story on surviving gun violence


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s an idiom that you’ve heard forever: “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. It comes to mind when you meet or speak with Aswad Thomas.

You just wouldn’t peg him as a victim of gun violence. Now, it’s been said you can recognize survivors of such violence by their courage. This product of the streets of Hartford, found the courage to control the rest of his story, by writing a story.

“The Stars Represent You and Me.” The book provides a glimpse into the lives of two childhood friends, Duke and Ruben. “Duke” is Aswad.

“My best friend Ruben was shot and killed at the age of ten-years-old” Thomas said. “So the book tells that story, and it tells what life was for me, what life was like for me after losing my best friend to gun violence.”

After moving to Michigan, Thomas’ family moved back to Hartford.

Thomas  starred for the boys Basketball team at Weaver High School, and became his first family member to attend college. A huge deal when you consider the lack of a male role model in young Aswad’s wife.

“In my immediate family, five out of the ten males are victims of gun violence.” He said.

Thomas became an honor student at Elms College in Chicopee, Mass. He was a point guard on the Basketball team, and people took notice. But, just before Leaving to play Professionally in Europe, Thomas was shot on Albany Avenue. He nearly Lost his life. His Basketball career was over.

But this young man rebounded nicely, and is now the National Director of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. He’ll hold a book signing on Juneteenth, tomorrow. By design, he’ll do it on the street he was shot on, Albany Avenue. Also by design.

He said that after he was shot, he really had nobody to turn to. Now, he’s that person.

“In my immediate family five out of the ten males are victims of gun violence. Then I started to talk to people in the community. Parents who lost children to gun violence . I’ve talked to friends I went to school with who were in a domestic violence relationship or became victims of sexual assault and asked them that same question. Did you get any help? And the answer was no, and that’s what that’s when I decided that I wanted to be an advocate. I wanted to help people get the services that they need.”

The book signing is tomorrow from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Melanin, 1330 Albany Avenue in Hartford.

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