Aswad Thomas, a former college basketball player and author of The Stars Represent You and Me. As an African American male, Aswad is well aware of the trauma and loss that he and many in communities across the country have experienced. In 2009, he became the first male in his family to graduate from college and was just three weeks from going to Europe to play professional basketball when he became a victim of gun violence in Hartford, CT. Those bullets ended his basketball career and nearly his life. Aswad has dedicated his life to organizing communities to help elevate those voices in state and federal policymaking debates. Aswad has become one of the country's policy experts on gun violence, criminal justice reform and a leader in building coalitions across racial lines to advance safety. 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, 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!