Tributes to Charisse Shumate


We say thank you. Thank you for loving her so much when we were not there, could not be there. It was you who stood with her. A family she adopted as her own. Sisters that in bond alone were hers and together you all fought a good fight. We the blood family of Charisse thank you.
Charisse’s family at the service for her in Chicago, Il.


Charisse and I had been family for over 7 years before we had the chance to meet. She reminded me that no matter how bad things seem, there is always something out there worth fighting for. And that is what she did all those years in prison. Charisse will be missed by many, but now she is truly free.
Medenna Lewis, daughter-in-law


Charisse Happy Shumate was one of the only people I have met in my life that constantly would step outside of her own numerous troubles to address the troubles of anyone who needed her. She was a loyal friend, a role model and mentor, a tireless advocate for basic human rights and quality medical care for herself and her peers. She was a fierce warrior in this endeavor and a strong soldier in her own struggles. I loved, respected and admired her for all these things.
But I will miss her huge heart, her smile, the way her eyes lit up, the many small ways she showed her love (because she would certainly never say it) the most.
Dearest Happy,
If you were here today I could tell you how I have become so frustrated – You see so many atrocities here, medical neglect, malpractice, suffering, death…
Your passing has renewed my anger, refueled my fight, reminded me that we must never become complacent. You have passed the torch and we will carry it forward.
In love, hope, strength, solidarity always!
Your friend,
Judy Ricci


My sister, my friend,
Happy, in my heart you have a very special place. Right now my heart is in pain because I miss you so much. You have always been here for me like a big sister, telling me what to do. You will always be with me. I will continue to fight on in your name because you changed my life as you have done for so many others. Rest now, my sister, your fight is over.
Your little sister Mary Shields


She was such a loving person. If you needed a hand, her hand was out there for you. I admire her courage, her strength and her beautiful heart. Most people are always looking for a purpose in life. Happys was to be there for other people, even at a high cost. Most of us could/would never understand. When she talked people listened. She demanded respect for herself and every inmate in CCWF. It wasnt just about her and in a place where so few care Ill miss her beautiful smile and her mischievous eyes. I want you to know Happy was loved by many.
Beatrice Bea Smith-Dyer


I know in my heart that you knew how much you meant to me from the first time we spoke. You became my Auntie Happy and I became your niece. I feel like Im your blood niece because it was no different from my aunts at home. I dont know if you realized it, but you helped me in more than one area of life. Ill always love you – Ill help keep your tireless fight going. Something needs to be done for women in prison who suffer. I have enough loved ones to help me keep the fuel going.
Rest in peace, Alicia Taplett