Black History Symposium to Examine Prison State


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The City College of New York Black Studies Program presents a symposium, “Confronting the Carceral State II: Activists, Scholars and the Exonerated Speak,” 1 – 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 14, in The Great Hall of Shepard Hall, 160 Convent Ave., New York City. The event, consisting of two panels of activists and scholars plus a book signing, is free and open to the public.

The symposium builds upon the work begun by “Confronting the Carceral State: Policing and Punishment in Modern U.S. History,” a symposium held in March 2010 at Rutgers University. “At that conference,” a press statement from the organizers said, “it was made abundantly clear that the mass incarceration of the poor and people of color was an issue that demanded not only study but action.”

“Confronting the Carceral State II” is intended to inform and inspire study and action. All are welcome to join the audience and engage the panelists and each other in the discussion. The event program follows:

1 – 2 p.m. Reception and book signing for participating authors.

2 – 4 p.m. Panel One: Historical Perspectives:

Dr. Yohuru R. Williams, associate professor of African-American history, Fairfield University, moderator: “I Am Troy Davis: The Execution Narrative and the Politics of Race in 21st Century America.”

Dr. Donna Murch, associate professor of history, Rutgers University: “Towards a Social History of Crack: Drugs and Youth Culture in the Age of Reagan.”

Dr. Heather Thompson, associate professor of history, Temple University: “Ending Today’s Carceral Crisis: Lessons From History.”

Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, director, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture: “Occupied Blackness: Urban Policing and the Inevitability of Stop and Frisk.”

4 – 6 p.m. Panel Two: Activists and the Exonerated Speak:

Dr. Johanna Fernandez, assistant professor of Black and Hispanic Studies, Baruch College, moderator: “The New Phase in the Struggle to Release Mumia.”

Javier Cardona, arts & education director, Rehabilitation Through The Arts: “Doing Hope: Applying the Arts to Rehearse and Re-Create Life Within And Outside Prison.”

Dr. Ruth Wilson Gilmore, professor of geography, CUNY Graduate Center: “The Popular Front Against Mass Incarceration: Movement, Perils, Prospects.”

King Downing, program analyst, American Friends Service Committee: “Doing Justice Work.”

Felix A. Navarro, Jr., Leaders Against Systemic Injustice (LASI), City College Student Organization: “Opening The Eyes Of The Youth.”

Vanessa Potkin, senior staff attorney, The Innocence Project: “Addressing Wrongful Convictions.”

Raymond Santana and Korey Wise, “Exonerees From The Central Park Jogger’s Case.”

6 – 7 p.m. Reception and book signing for participants.

For more information, contact Professor Venus Green, 212-650-8656, vgreen@ccny.cuny.edu. To RSVP, please call 212-650-8117.

Photo: The Vernon C. Bain prison barge operated by the City of New York. This medium and maximum security prison facility houses 800 prisoners. It was built in 1992 at a cost of $161 Million. Courtesy Travels of Tug 44.

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