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Black Studies and the Fight Against Mass Incarceration

Public Programs

Image courtesy of Netflix
Black Studies and the Fight Against Mass Incarceration
Wed, Nov 16, 2016 6 PM

Join professor and civil rights lawyer Michelle Alexander for a screening of Ava DuVernay’s new documentary 13th, which explores the historical foundations and present-day structures of mass incarceration in the United States. After the film, Alexander will lead a panel discussion addressing the importance of Black Studies both for understanding the origins of systems of racial oppression and acquiring the tools needed to effectively combat them. The panel will feature faculty from the Department of African American and African Studies and the Moritz College of Law as well as student activists and community organizers.

A reception with complimentary food and drink will start at 5 PM in Mershon Lobby, and the screening will begin at 6 PM.

Cosponsored by Ohio State’s Department of African American and African Studies (AAAS), the AAAS Community Extension Center, and Moritz College of Law.


Michelle Alexander, Visiting Professor, Union Theological Seminary
A highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar, Michelle Alexander is the author of the best-selling and award-winning book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Alexander has taught at a number of universities, including Stanford Law School, where she was an associate professor of law and directed the Civil Rights Clinics. In 2005, she won a Soros Justice Fellowship, which supported the writing of The New Jim Crow, and that same year she accepted a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State. Prior to entering academia, Alexander served as the director of the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU of Northern California, where she coordinated the Project’s media advocacy, grassroots organizing, coalition building, and litigation. In addition to her nonprofit advocacy experience, Alexander has worked as a litigator at private law firms, where she specialized in plaintiff-side class-action lawsuits alleging race and gender discrimination.

Amna Akbar, Assistant Professor of Law, Moritz College of Law, Ohio State
Amna Akbar’s interdisciplinary research examines the intersections of national security and criminal law, the functioning of the contemporary punitive state, and the role of counter-radicalization in shaping national security policing and prosecutions. Her clinical practice is focused on law and organizing for marginalized communities. With her students, she has litigated in state, federal, and transnational forums against domestic and foreign governments for human and civil rights abuses, researched and written community-based human rights reports, and collaborated with community organizations in campaigns for public education and collective change. Akbar’s work has been published in the UCLA Law Review, University of California Irvine Law Review, the Journal of Legal Education, the Nation, and more. She serves on the board of the Clinical Law Review.

Curtis Austin, Associate Professor, Department of African American and African Studies, Ohio State
Curtis Austin received his PhD from Mississippi State University in 1998 and began his teaching career at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He later taught for 12 years at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he served as the Director of the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage, the largest repository of civil rights interviews in the United States. In 2007 his first book, Up Against the Wall: Violence in the Making and Unmaking of the Black Panther Party, earned critical acclaim and received the American Library Association’s Choice Journal Outstanding Academic Title Award. In 2008 Austin became the founding director the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Black Studies. In 2011 he became the Director of Ohio State’s Young Scholars Program, a position he held until 2013 when he returned to the faculty. He currently serves as the Director of the Undergraduate Studies Program and teaches courses on the Civil Rights and Black Power movements.

Terry Green, Community Activist, Think Make Live
Terry Green II is an “empowerment expert” and the creator of the presentation Think Make Live, which encourages leadership development, community engagement, and social justice. Green is a consultant, speaker, mentor, and community leader. He served as a member of the SMART Start Council, the first YouthBuild USA national advisory council, is currently an elected member of the YouthBuild USA National Alumni Council, and received the YouthBuild USA 2015 Outstanding Commitment to Leadership and Social Justice Award. He is a member of Opportunity Youth United which works to expand opportunity and decrease poverty in America. Green was incarcerated from 2009–13 at the Southeastern Correctional Institution where he participated in the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, and has since served as an invited guest lecturer at Ohio universities and regional Inside-Out meetings in prisons. He is an advisory board member for Unity House, a home that provides individuals recovering from alcohol and other drug addictions with a safe, sober living environment and recovery support, and an active alumnus of the United Way of Central Ohio’s Neighborhood Leadership Academy, which brings together community members who are passionate about neighborhood improvement and positive environmental change.

Sarah Mamo, Ohio State Senior, AAAS Major, Ohio State Coalition for Black Liberation
Sarah Mamo is a senior at Ohio State majoring in African American and African Studies. One of the most prominent student activists on campus, Mamo is a founding member of the OSU Coalition for Black Liberation (OSU4BL), the primary student organization on campus organizing around Black Lives Matter. She also is a member of Still We Rise, a black women’s feminist collective, and the International Socialist Organization (ISO). As a member of OSU4BL, Mamo has taken a leading role in organizing a student campaign calling for divestment from private prisons.

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