The forced labor of incarcerated people is a vestige of slavery still protected by the 13th Amendment today. On September 9th, 1971, nearly 1,300 men incarcerated at the Attica Correctional Facility led an insurrection against the prison — an institution undergirded by systemic oppression, racism, and violence.
The Attica Liberation Faction Manifesto rooted the uprising in collective principled struggle: “In our peaceful efforts to assemble in dissent...we are in turn murdered, brutalized, and framed...because we seek the rights and privileges of all American People.” The State used brutal and deadly force to silence the rebellion. And yet, the vision for collective liberation forged during the Attica Uprising continues to shape demands of incarcerated people throughout the world. Join us on September 13th to commemorate Attica Day and discuss its continued significance, unfulfilled demands, and the movement to bring those demands to bear.
Orisanmi Burton is an Assistant Professor of anthropology at American University and a 2020 – 2021 fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Burton’s research, which focuses on Black radical politics and state repression in the US, has been published in North American Dialogue, The Black Scholar, and Cultural Anthropology. He is an active member of the Critical Prison Studies Caucus of the American Studies Association and the Abolition Collective and is completing a book manuscript titled The Tip of the Spear: Black Revolutionary Organizing and Prison Pacification in the Empire State that analyzes the prison as a domain of domestic warfare.
Darren Mack is an activist, advocate, and organizer based in New York. Darren served 20 years in New York State's prison system where he was politicized. Upon his release he became a member of the Education From the Inside Out coalition working to remove statutory and practical educational barriers for individuals impacted by the punishment system. In 2016, he became one of the outspoken advocates for the #CLOSErikers campaign. Darren completed his B.A. degree from Bard College through the Bard Prison Initiative and earned his MSW at Hunter College.
Robin McGinty is a PhD candidate (ABD) at the CUNY Graduate Center’s Earth and Environmental Sciences Doctoral Program in Geography. Robin McGinty’s research study “A Labor of Livingness: Oral Histories of Formerly Incarcerated Black Women” considers a re-imagination of the lived experiences of formerly incarcerated Black women and the production of an explicit political subjectivity that attends to the ways of knowing and living the world. Foregrounding the oral histories of formerly incarcerated Black women, the term ‘a labor of livingness’ is articulated as an expression of resistance to the prison as a site of living death, and its structural afterlives. Robin McGinty’s scholarship and critical practices are birthed from the living memory of her own imprisonment which remarks on the custodial arrangements and the intimate carceral conditions of confinement as a portal to grasp and capture the carceral geographies of Black enclosure and containment that ventures beyond the familiar trope of ‘enduring’ and ‘surviving’ the prison.
Emani Davis is the CREATE(HER) of The Omowale Project, established to respond to the syndemic epidemics of COVID-19 and the racial violence targeting Black men and women. The project is designed to provide direct support to BIPOC-led organizations and the battle-scarred and emerging leaders who are at the helm of the national movement for racial justice. While reducing trauma and building resilience, The Project operates at the intersection of brain science, Ancestral wisdom and the healing arts. Equipping frontline justice workers, leadership and other wellness practitioners (those most vulnerable to vicarious trauma and burnout) with wellbeing driven practices for individual and communal care, Omowale co-creates healing experiences that center wellness and expand joy.
This event is cosponsored by Haymarket Books and 13th Forward.
13th Forward is a campaign led by a coalition of workers’ rights advocates, criminal justice activists, grassroots organizers, and directly impacted individuals to end the forced labor and wage theft of incarcerated workers in New York.