Thank you to all those who joined us at the Making and Unmaking Mass Incarceration (MUMI) Conference in Oxford, MS on December 4-6, 2019. In the wake of the murders of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd, and others, calls for abolition have become widespread in ways almost unimaginable then. But this moment began with decades of such imagining.
MUMI was a unique opportunity for intergenerational conversation and collaboration between students, scholars, and activists. The issues debated, the relationships formed, and the energy and possibility generated, will continue produce new organizing strategies and scholarship which serves liberation, not just libraries, for years to come. Thank you to all the speakers for your generosity and brilliance, the attendees for making the journey and sharing your gratitude, and the conference organizers for sacrificing your time and building the space.
Hosting an unapologetically abolitionist conference in Mississippi was important, but not an end in itself. Just weeks after MUMI concluded, a humanitarian crisis that was years in the making came to a head in Mississippi prisons, particularly at Mississippi State Penitentiary, known as Parchman. Since December 29, nearly fifty people have died in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. One was a former student of mine, Nora Ducksworth. Each life lost is state-sanctioned murder.
In response to this crisis, the Mississippi Prison Reform Coalition emerged to address the immediate needs of those inside and their families while calling to #ShutdownParchman. The Coalition’s platform is drawn from incarcerated people and those directly impacted. If you would like to donate, all proceeds will benefit people returning home to their communities and families impacted by the overlapping crises of COVID-19 and racist state violence.
In January 2020, MUMI partnered with the RECH Foundation to launch the Mississippi Freedom Letters Campaign (#MSFreedomLetters) to write letters of support to every incarcerated person in the state. Since then, with help from generous writing communities across the country, we have written over 9,000 letters. Please continue to help us reach our goal.
We recently launched an ambitious program called Freedom Winter, which focuses on political education and community building in Mississippi in collaboration with our comrades in Jackson and across the country. Please visit our new Study and Struggle website to learn more on how to participate.