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University Forum Online to feature Legal Expert and Author James Forman Jr. Oct. 27

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 16:44pm | By: David Tisdale

James Forman Jr.James Forman Jr., a Yale University Law School professor and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Locking Up Our Own, which explores race and the war on crime during the late 20th century, will be the guest speaker for The University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) University Forum Online Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 6:30 p.m. when he presents “Confronting Mass Incarceration.”

Professor Forman is the son of civil rights activist James Forman, and grandson of Jessica Mitford, the latter an investigative reporter and activist and a 1990 USM University Forum speaker. After graduating from Yale Law School, Professor Forman served as a clerk for Justice Sandra Day O’Conner on the U.S. Supreme Court, and spent six years working as a public defender in Washington, D.C. His work as a public defender led him to start the Maya Angelou Public Charter School, an alternative school for youth offenders and school dropouts. “Forman saw the consequences of tough-on-crime policies firsthand as a prosecutor in the District of Columbia, and his scholarly work is inspired by those experiences,” said Dr Andrew Haley, professor of history and director of University Forum. “The United States is still struggling with the consequences of those policies, as we all witnessed this summer when video circulated showing the murder of George Floyd.

“There may be no speaker that University Forum could invite who can better explain how we got to this point, and where we should go, than James Forman Jr.”

Professor Forman is the author of various law review articles as well as op-eds and essays for the New York Times, the Atlantic, the New Republic, and The Nation. Locking Up Our Own explores the Black mayors, judges, and police chiefs who took office during a period of rising crime in the 1970s and the effect their tough-on-crime and war-on-drugs policies had on poor Black neighborhoods in the decades that followed. Forman’s account of the rise of mass incarceration, The New York Times wrote, demonstrates “exemplary nuance” and compassion.

Presented by the USM Honors College, University Forum is free and open to the public. Details about how to attend the talk will be posted at