A group of Washington University students, in collaboration with the Missouri History Museum and Gephardt Institute of Public Service, will present a two-part community forum on the evolution of the U.S. prison-industrial complex titled “The Criminal Brand: America’s Invisible Class” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, at the Missouri History Museum’s McDermott Grand Hall. The program is free and open to the public.
The students are currently completing a course, “Mapping the World of ‘Black Criminality,’” taught by Sowandé Mustakeem, PhD, assistant professor of history and African and African-American studies, both in Arts & Sciences.
The forum will address the critical issue of injustice in the U.S. prison system by considering the disproportionate incarceration rates of African-Americans and the social, political, and economic implications of this reality.
The first segment will feature a panel of St. Louis-based professionals and community activists involved with the criminal justice system, followed by roundtable discussions engaging members of the audience, panelists and students. These discussions will further engage issues surrounding mass incarceration, such as the fact that the U.S. incarcerates a higher percentage of its citizens than any other country in the world.
Panel members include: Jamala Rogers, a community organizer and author; Zaki Baruti, president/general of Universal African Peoples Organization and co-chair of the Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression; John Chasnoff, program director of American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri; Vera Thomas, mother of death row inmate Reggie Clemons; and Clark Porter, ex-felon, WUSTL alum and program support specialist with the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri.
Discussion will be structured around themes outlined in Michelle Alexander’s new book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. These themes center on the systematic exploitation of communities of color and the U.S. criminal justice system as a contemporary system of racial control.
In anticipation of Alexander’s visit to St. Louis next fall, this program aims to engage the St. Louis community in serious dialogue about structural inequalities in the justice system and their impact at the local and national levels.
For more information, contact Reuben Riggs at (936) 552-1237 or firstname.lastname@example.org.