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Noted Legal Scholar Alexander to Deliver Lecture on Incarceration PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Contact Tearanny Street - 601.266.6823   

Longtime civil rights advocate and litigator Michelle Alexander will deliver a public lecture at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 8 at The University of Southern Mississippi comparing the mass incarceration of African-American males to a new Jim Crow system.

Hosted by the Southern Miss Center for Black Studies as part of the annual speaker series, Alexander will discuss her new book titled, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” followed by a question-and-answer segment and dialogue from the audience. The lecture will be held in the Polymer Science Auditorium of the Shelby Freland Thames Polymer Science Center

Alexander is considered one of the foremost legal scholars in the United States and her work has been showcased on programs like C-Span and Democracy Now!, as well as in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.

“Her incisive analysis of mass incarceration is not only groundbreaking in terms of its educational contribution, but government agencies from the U.S. Department of Justice to the U.S. Attorney’s Office are using her research as a guide in rethinking the way in which the nation addresses crime and punishment,” said Dr. Curtis Austin, director of the Center for Black Studies and associate professor of history at Southern Miss.

In 2005, Alexander won the Soros Justice Fellowship and now holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Mortiz College of Law at Ohio State University. For several years, she served as director of the Racial Justice Project at the ACLU of Northern California and subsequently directed the Civil Rights Clinics at Stanford Law School, where she was an associate professor.

In a public lecture at Zocalo Public Square in Los Angeles, CA, Alexander discussed the facts that support her argument of how the mass incarceration of African American males is the reformed Jim Crow system of today.

“More African Americans are under correctional control today, in prison or jail, on probation or parole, than were enslaved in 1850 -- a decade before the Civil War began,” Alexander said. “As of 2004, more black men were disenfranchised due to felon disenfranchisement laws than in 1870, the year the 15th Amendment was ratified prohibiting laws that explicitly denied the right to vote on the basis of race. As a criminal, you have scarcely more rights and arguably less respect than a black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow. We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

She contends that while a significant number of African Americans lead successful lives, an astounding number, much like their grandparents before them, are trapped in a permanent second-class status — unable to vote, automatically excluded from juries and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits.

“Mississippi is particularly affected by this trend in mass incarceration, because it is a state with an inordinate amount of private prisons that primarily house African-Americans who have dropped out of a failing public school system,” Austin said. “This lecture topic brings with it both a statewide and local focus that offers the community an opportunity to dialogue with and learn from one of the nation’s leading criminal justice experts.”

For more information, contact Dr. Curtis Austin at 601.266.6973 or This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it . For more information on Michelle Alexander, visit

Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” will present a public lecture on the issues of a colorblind society and racial justice at 6:30 p.m. on April 8 at The University of Southern Mississippi (Submitted photo).

About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities.  In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world.  Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at

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