MUMI Conference Schedule

All events held at The Lyric in downtown Oxford unless otherwise specified.

MUMI Conference Schedule

All events held at The Lyric in downtown Oxford unless otherwise specified.

Art Exhibit: Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project and Moreau College Initiative

8:00AM–5:00PM Gammill Gallery, Barnard Observatory on UM campus Thursday - Friday

APAEP_option 4

Art on the Inside is a traveling exhibit of work produced by students that have taken pre-college art classes in the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project (APAEP). Made up of drawings and photographs, and occasionally poems, Art on the Inside is a traveling exhibit. Much of the artwork collected over the years from the APAEP students is also currently for sale at our online gallery. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of student art goes to fund more classes.

Reframing Incarceration: Selected Work from Westville Correctional Facility features artwork by college students at Westville Correctional Facility and gives visible form to ideas such as abstraction, representation, memory, identity and personhood. Students participated in the Moreau College Initiative, a collaborative effort between the University of Notre Dame and Holy Cross College.

Wednesday, December 4

Opening Keynote

5:30pm–7:00pm, Off Square Books

Albert Woodfox

Albert Woodfox

Albert Woodfox was born in 1947 in New Orleans. Arrested often as a teenager in New Orleans, inspired behind bars in his early twenties to join the Black Panther Party, Albert was serving a 50-year sentence in Angola for armed robbery when on April 17, 1972, a white guard was killed. Albert and another member of the Panthers were accused of the crime and immediately put in solitary confinement. Woodfox served more than four decades in solitary confinement in the notorious Angola prison in Louisiana all for a crime he did not commit. Decades passed before Albert gained a lawyer of consequence; even so, sixteen more years and multiple appeals were needed before he was finally released in February 2016. A committed activist in prison, he remains so today, speaking to a wide array of audiences, including the Innocence Project, Harvard, Yale, and other universities, the National Lawyers Guild, as well as at Amnesty International events in London, Paris, Denmark, Sweden, and Belgium. He currently lives in his hometown of New Orleans.

Patrick Elliot Alexander

Patrick Elliot Alexander is an associate professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi. He earned a Ph.D. in English from Duke University, and specializes in African American literature, 19th-century American literature, and critical prison studies. His first book, From Slave Ship to Supermax: Mass Incarceration, Prisoner Abuse, and the New Neo-Slave Novel, was published by Temple University Press in 2018, and his articles on teaching African American literature in prison appear in the Journal of African American History, south: a scholarly journal, and Reflections: A Journal of Writing, Service Learning, and Community Literacy. In 2014, Alexander co-founded the Prison-to-College Pipeline Program, an award-winning college-in-prison program that currently offers for-credit college courses for imprisoned men at Parchman/Mississippi State Penitentiary and for imprisoned women at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.

Thursday, December 5

Welcome Remarks


Wilkin headshot

provost noel wilkin

Noel E. Wilkin is Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Professor of Pharmacy Administration, and Research Professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Dr. Wilkin is a pharmacist, scientist, and administrator who earned his Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy and his Doctor of Philosophy degrees at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. As a faculty member, Dr. Wilkin was awarded over $4 million grant and contract support; made a total of nearly 100 peer-reviewed and invited presentations; published a total of nearly 60 peer-reviewed manuscripts, technical reports, professional development articles, and book chapters; and edited a text on pharmacy teaching. He has served in over 25 national service roles, including editor of the Journal of Pharmacy Teaching, member of an advisory panel to outline educational outcomes for pharmacy education, and co-chair of an NIH review panel. He was also inducted as a Fellow of the American Pharmacists Association. In addition to his extensive experience in university operations, Dr. Wilkin has served as a chair and center director, received awards for his service contributions to the School of Pharmacy and the university, and received the school’s Pharmaceutical Science Teaching Award three times.


garrett felber

Garrett Felber is an assistant professor of History at the University of Mississippi. His research and teaching focus on twentieth-century African American social movements and U.S. social and political history, Black radicalism, and the carceral state. His forthcoming book, Those Who Know Don’t Say: The Nation of Islam, the Black Freedom Movement, and the Carceral State (UNC Press, January 2020) is a political history of the Nation of Islam which recenters the role of Black Nationalism and prison activism in the postwar Black freedom struggle and the rise of mass incarceration. His is currently working on editing a collection of writings by political prisoner Martin Sostre and writing a history of the rise of mass incarceration told through the nation’s first and only “community prison,” entitled: The Norfolk Plan: The Community Prison in the Age of Mass Incarceration. Felber is the lead organizer of the Making and Unmaking Mass Incarceration conference and the Project Director of the Parchman Oral History Project (POHP), a collaborative oral history, archival, and documentary storytelling project on incarceration in Mississippi. In 2016, Felber founded Liberation Literacy, an abolitionist collective and radical reading group inside and outside Oregon prisons. He also spearheaded the Prison Abolition Syllabus, a collaborative reading list published by Black Perspectives which highlighted and contextualized prison strikes in 2016 and 2018.

Session 1

9:00am–10:30am Legacies of Slavery

Anne Twitty

Anne Twitty (Chair)

Anne Twitty is an associate professor at the University of Mississippi. Her research focuses on questions of nineteenth-century American social and cultural history, with a special emphasis on legal and labor history, slavery and freedom, gender and women’s history, and the history of the South and Midwest. Her first book, Before Dred Scott: Slavery and Legal Culture in the American Confluence, 1757–1887, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2016. 

Professor Twitty has also been active in efforts to study and contextualize the practice of slavery at the University of Mississippi. She has worked to help the University confront its racially divisive past as a dedicated member of the University of Mississippi Slavery Research Group since its founding and an appointed member of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History and Context, which produced a comprehensive set of recommendations about how the University should contextualize important historical sites on campus.

T. Dionne Bailey

T. Dionne Bailey

T. Dionne Bailey is a visiting assistant professor of History at Colgate University. Bailey specializes in the study of African American women, social injustice, and the history of mass incarceration in the American South. She is currently working on her first manuscript project, Daughters of Jim Crow’s Injustice: African American Women, Mass Incarceration, and the Business of Black Women’s Bodies in the American South, 1890–1980.  Bailey is the founder of the non-profit organization, I-VOW (I Am a Voice of Women) that works to aid and empower women in their transition from the penal system back into society with emphasis on education, mentoring, and support while also serving as an advocacy organization that seeks to aid women currently entangled in the penal system.

Sawari, Amani

Amani Sawari

Amani Sawari is a writer, founder of the site, coordinator for the Right2Vote Campaign and a 2019 Civil Rights Fellow with the Roddenberry Foundation. She graduated from the University of Washington with her Bachelor degree in both Media Communication Studies and Law, Economics and Public Policy in 2016. Her visionary publications aid in distributing messages and building community among participants in the prison resistance movement on both sides of the wall. During the aftermath of the Lee County Massacre that occurred in South Carolina’s Department of Corrections, Sawari was selected by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak to be their spokesperson for their 2018 National Prison Strike. Her coordination of over 400 endorsing businesses, groups and organizations led to the successful participation of incarcerated activists in 17 states and 3 regions abroad: among Palestinians held captive in Israeli Prisons, Leipzig Prison in Greece and at Burnside Prison in Nova Scotia, Canada. In addition to coordinating Right2Vote, Sawari is organizing the Statewide campaign to end Truth-in- Sentencing laws and bring back Good Time in Michigan. Today Sawari’s monthly Right2Vote Report is mailed to hundreds of prisoners in 27 states across the country.

Walter Johnson

Walter Johnson

Walter Johnson is a historian at Harvard University. Previously, he was at New York University, after earning a Bachelor’s degree from Amherst College (1988) and a Ph.D from Princeton in University (1995). Johnson’s award-winning books, Soul by Soul (1999) and River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom (2013) are the recipients of numerous awards, including the Francis B. Simkins Award from the Southern Historical Association, the John Hope Franklin Prize from the American Studies Association, the SHEAR Book Prize from the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic, and the Frederick Jackson Turner and the Avery O. Craven Prizes from the Organization of American Historians. Johnson is currently writing a book about the central role of St. Louis in the imperialist and racial capitalist history of the United States, from Lewis and Clark to Michael Brown. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship; fellowships from the American Philosophical Society, the Radcliffe Institute, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences; and a Mellon Fellowship in Cultural Studies at Wesleyan University.

Max Mishler

Max Mishler

Max Mishler received his Ph.D. from New York University in 2016 and is currently an assistant professor of History at the University of Toronto. Mishler specializes in the transnational history of the United States, with a focus on slavery, abolition, incarceration, and the history of capitalism. His current book manuscript, entitled “Civil Slavery: Punishment, Abolition, and the Origins of Mass Incarceration," explores the intertwined histories of slave emancipation and penal servitude in the Atlantic world. This research has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, the Council of Library Information Resources, and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also broadly interested in public humanities, particularly developing educational programs for currently and formerly incarcerated people.

Session 2

10:45AM–12:15PM Prison Activism and the Organizing Tradition

Jessica Wilkerson

Jessica Wilkerson (chair)

Jessica Wilkerson is an assistant professor of History and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi. Born and raised in East Tennessee, she earned her MA in Women’s History from Sarah Lawrence College and a Ph.D. in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her first book, To Live Here, You Have to Fight: How Women Led Appalachian Movements for Social Justice (University of Illinois Press, 2019), traces the alliances forged and the grassroots movements led by women in the Appalachian South in the 1960s and 1970s. The project, based on her dissertation, received the OAH Lerner-Scott Prize and the Labor and Working-Class History’s Herbert Gutman Prize. In 2017, she began a collaboration with her students on an oral history project documenting LGTBQ life and history in Mississippi.

Dan Berger

Dan Berger

Dan Berger is an associate professor of comparative ethnic studies at the University of Washington Bothell. He is the author and or editor of six books, including Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era (2014) and Rethinking the American Prison Movement (2018), and a frequent op-ed contributor. He coordinates the Washington Prison History Project, a digital archive of prisoner activism and prison policy available at

Orisanmi Burton

Orisanmi Burton

Orisanmi Burton is a Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Anthropology at American University who studies Black radical politics and state repression in the United States. His research has been published in Cultural Anthropology, North American Dialog, The Black Scholar, and he has forthcoming work in American Anthropologist. Dr. Burton is an active member of the Critical Prison Studies Caucus of the American Studies Association and the Abolition Collective and is hard at work on a book manuscript, entitled The Tip of the Spear: Revolutionary Organizing and Prison Pacification in the Empire State, which analyzes the prison as a domain of domestic warfare.

Darren Mack

Darren Mack

Darren Mack is an activist, advocate, and organizer from Brooklyn, New York. Mack served 20 years in the New York State prison system. After receiving his BA from Bard College through the Bard Prison Initiative in 2013, Mack went on to graduate with a Master’s in social work from Hunter College and is the director of Community Engagement & Advocacy at JustLeadershipUSA as well as a leading advocate for the #CLOSErikers campaign in New York City.

Zoharah Simmons

Zoharah Simmons

Zoharah Simmons has a long history in the area of civil rights, human rights, and peace work. She was on the staff of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) for twenty-three years. During her early adult years as a college student and thereafter, Simmons was active with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and spent seven years working full time on Voter Registration and desegregation activities in Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama during the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. She is currently an assistant professor of religion and affiliated faculty in the Women Studies Department. Simmons’ primary academic focus in Islam is on the Shari’ah (Islamic Law) and its impact on Muslim women, contemporarily.

Art Lunch Session

12:30pm-1:00pm, Discussion with Art Curators


Zachary Norman

Zachary Norman is a multi-disciplinary artist and educator who currently teaches at the University of Utah. His work has been published and exhibited widely and is held in various collections including the Museum of Modern Art Library and the Joan Flasch Artist Book Collection at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Norman was recently selected as a 2019 Artist-in-Residence at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. Recent exhibitions of his work include Present Company (NYC), Chicago Expo (Chicago, IL), Aperture Foundation (NYC), Webber Gallery Space (London, UK) and Steinsland Berliner Gallery (Stockholm, Sweden).

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Shaelyn Smith

Shaelyn Smith serves as academic program coordinator for the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project at Auburn University. As coordinator, she oversees the daily function of APAEP/AU’s Second Chance Pell Experimental Site at Staton Correctional Facility in Elmore, AL, as well as teaches biannual classes with the program. In 2019, she was named Outstanding Staff of Inclusive Excellence and Diversity by Auburn’s Office of Inclusion and Diversity. Smith received her MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Alabama, and her first book, The Leftovers: essays, was published in 2018.

Session 3

1:00pm–2:30PM Criminalization

Rhonda Williams

Rhonda Y. Williams (chair)

Rhonda Y. Williams is a professor of History and the John L. Seigenthaler Chair in American History at Vanderbilt University. Her research focuses on the experiences, everyday lives, politics, and social struggles of low-income black women and marginalized people while contributing to the rethinking of gender, political identity, citizenship, civil rights, black liberation struggles, and interactions with the U.S. state. She is the author of the award-winning The Politics of Public Housing: Black Women's Struggles against Urban Inequality (2004) and Concrete Demands: The Search for Black Power in the 20th Century (2015), as well as numerous articles and essays, including the recently published chapter, titled “Women, Gender, Race, and the Welfare State” in the Oxford Handbook for Women’s and Gender History. Williams is also the co-editor of the book series Justice, Power, and Politics at the University of North Carolina Press and is co-editor of Teaching the American Civil Rights Movement.

James Kilgore

James Kilgore

James Kilgore landed in Federal prison in 2002 after spending 27 years as a fugitive. During his time underground, he moved to southern Africa where he became a popular educator for unions and community organizations fighting against apartheid. Since his release from prison in 2009 he has written five books, including the National Book Foundation award winner Understanding Mass Incarceration (2015) and four novels, all of which he drafted during his time in prison. In Urbana, Illinois, where he lives, he is the co-director of FirstFollowers Reentry Program, the father of two grown sons who are healthy and progressive-minded and the partner of Teresa Barnes, an historian of southern Africa and expert on the US prison system, through the lived experience of having a loved one incarcerated.

17 November 2010- Harlem, NY- Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad at The New  York Public Library Press Conference announcing Dr. Khalil Muhammad as the next Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, succeeding Howard Dodson, Jr. as Director of the Schomburg Center held at The Abyssinian Baptist Church on November 17, 2010 in Harlem, NY. Photo Credit: Terrence Jennings

Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Khalil Gibran Muhammad is professor of History, Race and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and the Suzanne Young Murray Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies. He is the former Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a division of the New York Public Library and the world’s leading library and archive of global black history. He is the award-winning author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, and a contributor to a 2014 National Research Council study, The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences. Muhammad is a frequent reviewer and commentator in national print and broadcast media outlets, such as the New York Times, The Nation, National Public Radio and MSNBC. He has appeared in a number of feature-length documentaries, including Slavery by Another Name (2012) and the Oscar-nominated 13th (2016).

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is an award-winning author on race and inequality as well as Black politics and social movements. Her books include From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation (2016) and How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective (2012). She has a forthcoming book titled Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership (2019). Taylor’s writing has been published in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Boston Review, Paris Review, The Guardian, The Nation, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, Jacobin, and beyond. Taylor has been appointed as a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians for 2018–2019. Taylor is an assistant professor in the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University.

Public History Presentation

2:45pm–4:15PM Parchman Oral History Project film screening + discussion

MVSU students

The Parchman Oral History Project (POHP) is a collaborative oral history, archival, and documentary storytelling project on incarceration in Mississippi hosted at the University of Mississippi. Its inaugural project chronicled several major student rebellions in the state and the mass arrests which followed during the year 1970.


W. Ralph Eubanks (chair)

W. Ralph Eubanks is a visiting professor of English and Southern Studies and Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. He is the author of Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey Into Mississippi’s Dark Past and The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South.  His essays and other writing have been published in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, America: The Jesuit Weekly, The American Scholar, Vanity Fair, WIRED, and The New Yorker. From 1995 to 2013 he was the director of publishing at the Library of Congress and is the former editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review. His forthcoming book, A Place Called Mississippi, will examine the literary landscape and legacy of his native Mississippi and will be published next fall by Workman Publishing

Headshot - Katherine Aberle

Katherine Aberle

Katherine Aberle is a Southern Studies graduate student with an emphasis in Documentary Expression at the University of Mississippi. Her fieldwork focuses on documenting the Mississippi Delta from the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign to contemporary critical prison studies.


Donald Cole

Donald R. Cole is an emertus administrator and faculty member at the University of Mississippi where in his capacities as Assistant Provost and Associate Professor of Mathematics, he played an active leadership role in policy making, teaching, research, and diversification at the University. He attended high school in Jackson, Mississippi, and holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Mississippi, M.A degrees from
both the State University of New York and the University of Michigan and a Bachelor Degree from Tougaloo College. Dr. Cole enjoyed a successful career in the aerospace industry with The General Dynamics Corporation – Fort Worth Division (now Lockheed Martin) before moving into academia at Florida A&M University. He joined the University of Mississippi in 1993 as the Assistant Dean of the Graduate School and Associate Professor of Mathematics. He served as Assistant to the Chancellor for Multicultural Affairs and Associate Dean of the Graduate School.

Headshot - Kiara Johnson

Kiara Johnson

Kiara Johnson is a junior at Tougaloo College. While majoring in History and Education, Kiara plans on researching Women’s Narratives in Mississippi History.

Headshot - Minahil Khan

Minahil Akbar Khan

Minahil Akbar Khan graduated from Harvard College in May, where she studied African American Studies. She completed a creative thesis exploring authenticity of voice as a writer of color.

King, Theophilus

Theophilus C. King

Theophilus C. King is from West Point, MS. He entered Mississippi Valley State University on a band scholarship, playing flute and piccolo, majoring in and receiving certifications in chemistry, physics, biology and math education. His participation in protest and demonstrations delayed his course completions until December 1970 and his graduation to May 1971. In January of 1971, he entered Mississippi State University as a PhD student working toward a degree in kinetic chemistry. For ten years, he taught high school math, chemistry, physics, and biomedical research. He later served the district for another 16 years as a school administrator. While serving the district, he obtained two advanced degrees: a Master of Education and a Ph. D. in Secondary Administration and Supervision from Jackson State University; three years of certified training at Harvard University in the area of education. Dr. King retired from the Jackson Public School on January 31, 2014. Dr. King was officially called by the St. Luke’s congregation and the Presbytery of Mississippi officially installed him as teaching elder, (pastor/minister), of St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church-(USA).

Headshot - Jasmine Stansberry

Jasmine Stansberry

Jasmine Stansberry is a Ph.D student in the History Department at the University of Mississippi. Her research is on black social movements in the twentieth-century U.S. South.

Keynote Conversation


Mariame Kaba

Mariame Kaba

Mariame Kaba is an organizer, educator and curator who is active in movements for racial, gender, and transformative justice. She is the founder and director of Project NIA, a grassroots organization with a vision to end youth incarceration. Kaba has co-founded multiple organizations and projects over the years including We Charge Genocide, the Chicago Freedom School, the Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls and Young Women, Love & Protect and most recently Survived + Punished. As a Researcher in Residence, she works with Andrea J. Ritchie, fellow Researcher in Residence, on a new Social Justice Institute (SJI) initiative, Interrupting Criminalization: Research in Action. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications including The Nation, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Teen Vogue and she runs the Prison Culture blog.

James Kilgore

James Kilgore

James Kilgore landed in Federal prison in 2002 after spending 27 years as a fugitive. During his time underground, he moved to southern Africa where he became a popular educator for unions and community organizations fighting against apartheid. Since his release from prison in 2009 he has written five books, including the National Book Foundation award winner Understanding Mass Incarceration (2015) and four novels, all of which he drafted during his time in prison. In Urbana, Illinois, where he lives, he is the co-director of FirstFollowers Reentry Program, the father of two grown sons who are healthy and progressive-minded and the partner of Teresa Barnes, an historian of southern Africa and expert on the US prison system, through the lived experience of having a loved one incarcerated.

Ruth Wilson Gilmore

Ruth Wilson Gilmore

Ruth Wilson Gilmore is professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences and director of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics at the City University of New York Graduate Center. A co-founder of many grassroots organizations including California Prison Moratorium Project, and Critical Resistance, she works on racial capitalism, organized violence, organized abandonment, changing state structure, criminalization, and labor and social movements. She’s working on a second edition of the prize-winning Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California (originally published in 2007). Recent publications include “Beyond Bratton” (Policing the Planet, Camp and Heatherton, eds.), and “Abolition Geography and the Problem of Innocence” (Futures of Black Radicalism, Lubin and Johnson, eds.). Gilmore has lectured in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America.

Poetry reading and book signing

7:00pm–8:00pm Off Square Books

Reginald Dwayne Betts

Reginald Dwayne Betts

Reginald Dwayne Betts is a poet and memoirist, he is the author of three books. The recently published Bastards of the Reagan Era, the 2010 NAACP Image Award-winning memoir, A Question of Freedom, and, the poetry collection, Shahid Reads His Own Palm. Dwayne is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. in Law Program at the Yale Law School. He has earned a J.D. from the Yale Law School, an MFA from Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers, and a BA from the University of Maryland.

Friday, December 6

Session 4

9:00am–10:30am Law and Abolition

William Berry

Will berry (chair)

Will Berry is an Associate Professor of Law and Frank Montague, Jr. Professor of Legal Studies and Professionalism at the University of Mississippi, where he has served as Director of the Cambridge Summer Abroad Program since 2012. A productive scholar, Professor Berry has written primarily in the areas of capital punishment, sentencing, substantive criminal law, and sports & entertainment law. His work has appeared in the Texas Law Review, the UCLA Law Review, the Southern California Law Review, and the Washington University Law Review, among others.

Amanda Alexander Head shot (2) (2)

Amanda Alexander

Amanda Alexander is the founding Executive Director of the Detroit Justice Center, a movement lawyering organization that works alongside communities to create economic opportunities, transform the justice system, and promote equitable and just cities. Originally from Michigan, Dr. Alexander has worked at the intersection of racial justice, social movements, and community development in Detroit, New York, and South Africa for over 15 years. She is an Echoing Green Fellow, Soros Justice Fellow, Fulbright-Hays Scholar, and 2018 Law for Black Lives Legal Innovator Fellow. Dr. Alexander is a Senior Research Scholar at the University of Michigan Law School and serves on the board of the Center for Constitutional Rights and the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership. She holds a JD from Yale Law School, Ph.D. in history from Columbia University, and a BA from Harvard College.

Reginald Dwayne Betts

reginald dwayne betts

Reginald Dwayne Betts is a poet and memoirist, he is the author of three books. The recently published Bastards of the Reagan Era, the 2010 NAACP Image Award-winning memoir, A Question of Freedom, and, the poetry collection, Shahid Reads His Own Palm. Dwayne is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. in Law Program at the Yale Law School. He has earned a J.D. from the Yale Law School, an MFA from Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers, and a BA from the University of Maryland.

Elizabeth Hinton

Elizabeth Hinton

Elizabeth Hinton is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences in the Departments of History and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. In her book, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America, Hinton examines the implementation of federal law enforcement programs beginning in the mid–1960s that made the United States home to the largest prison system in world history. This work has received numerous awards and recognition, including the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize from the Phi Beta Kappa Society and being named to The New York Times's 100 notable books of 2016. Hinton's op-eds on mass criminalization, surveillance, and the persistence of racial inequality can be found in the pages of The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Review, The Nation, and Time.

Derecka Purnell

derecka purnell

Derecka Purnell is a human rights lawyer and writer based in D.C. She provides legal support, organizes trainings, and communications resources to organizers across the country to build campaigns against state violence. She has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Boston Review. Purnell is currently deputy director of the Spirit of Justice Center at Union Theological Seminary.

Session 5

10:45AM–12:15PM The University and the Prison

Jodi Skipper

jodi skipper (chair)

Jodi Skipper is an associate professor of Sociology and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi. Her research interests include African diaspora anthropology, historic sites management, historical archaeology, museum and heritage studies, and southern studies. She is an applied anthropologist who explores the representation of African American lives through material culture. During her time at the University of Mississippi, she has focused on how African American historic sites interact with the production of heritage in tourism spaces through two new projects, the Behind the Big House program in Marshall County, Mississippi and the Promiseland Historic Preservation project in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana.

Kathy 6x4 300 dpi (1)

Kathy Boudin

Kathy Boudin is the co-director and co-founder of the Center for Justice at Columbia University. Her work focuses on the causes and consequences of mass incarceration, and the development of strategies to both transform the current criminal justice system and to deal with the day-to-day damage that the system has caused. In prison, she focused on strengthening mother-child relationships across the separation of incarceration, bringing back college to Bedford Hills Correctional Facility after the termination of the Pell grants, and building a community response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Since her release from prison in 2003, Boudin founded the Coming Home Program at the Spencer Cox Center for Health, Mt. Sinai/St.Luke’s, which provides healthcare for people returning from incarceration. She also developed a restorative practice program inside prisons for long-termers, many of whom were sentenced as juveniles, and is developing policy initiatives to release aging people from prison and to reform the parole system. Her work is based on participation and leadership from those who are most deeply affected by mass incarceration.

Michelle Jones

Michelle Jones

Michelle Jones is a third-year doctoral student in the American Studies program at New York University. She studies collateral consequences of criminal convictions, biographic mediation, and women’s prison history.  Jones’s advocacy extends beyond the classroom through collaborations and opportunities to speak truth to power. She is the board chair of Constructing Our Future, a reentry alternative created by incarcerated women in Indiana.  She is a 2017-18 Beyond the Bars Fellow, 2017–2018 Research Fellow Harvard University, 2018–2019 Bearing Witness Fellow with Art for Justice and 2019–2020 Code for America, SOZE Foundation and Mural Arts Philadelphia Fellow. Michelle is an artist and finds ways to funnel her research pursuits into theater, photography, visual art and dance.

Alice Kim

Alice Kim

Alice Kim writes, teaches, and organizes around access to education for people who are incarcerated, police torture, and the prison system. Kim is the Director of Human Rights Practice at the University of Chicago's Pozen Family Center for Human Rights where she directs a new Human Rights Lab, which engages students and community in human rights praxis addressing mass incarceration and criminalization. Kim teaches at a maximum-security prison in Illinois and leads the Prison Neighborhood Arts Project’s community building efforts connecting scholars, teaching artists and community leaders with incarcerated students. Kim is a cofounder of the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM), the group that initiated historic reparations legislation passed by the Chicago City Council in May 2015 for survivors tortured by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge’s torture ring. She was a leader in the movement to end capital punishment in Illinois and nationwide and worked closely with the Death Row 10, a group of African American men who were tortured by Jon Burge’s forces and sentenced to death.  Kim is coeditor of  The Long Term: Resisting Life Sentences, Working Toward Freedom  (with Erica Meiners, Audrey Petty, Jill Petty, Beth Richie, Sarah Ross, Haymarket Books, September 2018).

Syrita Steib-Martin is the president of Operation Restoration in New Orleans.

syrita steib-martin

Syrita Steib-Martin is the executive director of Operation Restoration. She has an unrelenting passion to help women successfully reenter into society after incarceration. At the age of 19, she was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison. After serving 110 months, she earned her BS from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) in New Orleans and became a nationally certified and licensed clinical laboratory scientist. Steib-Martin successfully drafted and passed Louisiana Act 276 which prohibits public post-secondary institutions in Louisiana from asking questions relating to criminal history for purposes of admissions, making Louisiana the first to pass this type of legislation. She is a consultant on the national Dignity for Incarcerated Women campaign and regularly speaks at conferences across the nation about the experiences of incarcerated women. Steib-Martin was appointed to the Justice Reinvestment oversight council for the state of Louisiana, and chairs the Louisiana Task Force on Women’s Incarceration.

Session 6

1:00pm–2:30PM Ending Women’s Incarceration



Maurice D. Gipson is the inaugural Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Community Engagement at
Arkansas State University and an instructor in the history department. He has presented all over
the country on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education. A graduate of
Louisiana State University, he received his M.A. in history from Missouri State University and
received his Juris Doctor from Southern University Law Center with an emphasis in civil rights.
Maurice is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in history at the University of Mississippi where his research
focuses on the black power movement in rural communities and inequities in discretionary prison
sentencing. Some of his current research projects include a reimagining of the civil rights
movement in Little Rock, Arkansas, a study of three black power organizations across Arkansas
and a historical analysis of Louisiana’s split-jury law.

Mariame Kaba

Mariame Kaba

Mariame Kaba is an organizer, educator and curator who is active in movements for racial, gender, and transformative justice. She is the founder and director of Project NIA, a grassroots organization with a vision to end youth incarceration. Kaba has co-founded multiple organizations and projects over the years including We Charge Genocide, the Chicago Freedom School, the Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls and Young Women, Love & Protect and most recently Survived + Punished. As a Researcher in Residence, she works with Andrea J. Ritchie, fellow Researcher in Residence, on a new Social Justice Institute (SJI) initiative, Interrupting Criminalization: Research in Action. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications including The Nation, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Teen Vogue and she runs the Prison Culture blog.

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Romarilyn Ralston

Romarilyn Ralston is a black feminist activist scholar with an incarceration experience. For three decades she has organized for gender and racial justice and against the violence of imprisonment––first while incarcerated, and more recently as an advocate on the outside. Romarilyn is currently the program director of Project Rebound at the California State University-Fullerton, which provides formerly incarcerated students with tools and opportunities to help them thrive as scholars. Romarilyn received the National Council of 100 Black Women Orange County Chapter 2018 Advocacy & Civil Rights Award for her work around women in prison. She is also an organizer with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, 2018 graduate of the Women’s Foundation of California’s Women’s Policy Institute, 2017 graduate of JustLeadershipUSA’s Leading with Conviction Program and 2015 Coro Fellow in Public Affairs alumni. Romarilyn holds a B.A. with honors in Gender and Feminist Studies from Pitzer College and an M.A. in Liberal Arts from Washington University.

Emily Thuma

Emily Thuma

Emily Thuma is an assistant professor of American Politics and Public Law at the University of Washington, Tacoma. She is the author of All Our Trials: Prisons, Policing, and the Feminist Fight to End Violence (University of Illinois Press, 2019).

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Sharon White-Harrigan

Sharon White-Harrigan is the Executive Director of BEYONDrosies2020, a campaign aimed at closing the women’s jail on Rikers Island, NYC, and ensuring that incarcerated women receive the comprehensive, traumainformed and empowering services that they deserve to heal and have a successful reentry. Prior to leading BEYONDrosies2020, Sharon was the Program Director of a temporary residence for formerly incarcerated women at the Women’s Prison Association. She has worked in a range of direct service fields including reentry, domestic violence, homelessness, mental health and substance abuse. She has also worked on policy advocacy efforts and was a leader in the successful campaign to pass NY’s DV Survivors Justice Act in 2015. Sharon is a motivational speaker who travels the country to speak with a wide range of audiences and press, including the New York Times, Daily News, Amsterdam News, and various radio. In her presentations, Sharon draws upon her expertise as a licensed social worker, survivor of violence, and 11 years of incarceration. Sharon’s story is featured in the documentary Strength of a Woman. Sharon sits on the Advisory Board of The Women’s Building and serves as a consultant to the Women & Justice Project. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Lehman College, and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Criminal Justice from City University of New York where she was a Thomas W. Smith Fellow. Sharon is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the 2017 Frank & Lisina Hoch Award for social justice advocacy and activism.

Public History Presentation

2:45pm–4:15pm Community Education Project and Indiana Women’s Prison History Project

Andy Eisen

Andy Eisen (CHAIR)

Andy Eisen is the co-director of the Community Education Project, a higher education in prison program located in Daytona, Florida. Eisen is the coordinator for the program’s Public History Research Collective and a Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Stetson University.

Elizabeth Nelson

Elizabeth Nelson (chair)

Elizabeth Nelson, Ph.D. has coordinated The Indiana Women’s Prison (IWP) History Project since January 2018 and is an Assistant Professor of Medical Humanities and Health Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI).


Anastazia is an activist, artist, and graduate student in the Medical Humanities and Health Studies program at IUPUI. In 2013, she co-founded the Indiana Women’s Prison History Project, a group of currently and formerly incarcerated women who publish original research on the history of women and incarceration. She received the 2016 Gloria Anzaldua Award from the American Studies Association for her work in gender and sexuality, and is the recipient of the Outstanding History Project Award, presented by the Indiana Historical Society. Her work and interviews span multiple media sources, including NPR and Slate magazine. She is the co-author of the play The Duchess of Stringtown, which has been produced in multiple theaters nationwide.

Lara Campbell

Lara Campbell has Bachelor and Associate Degrees in General Studies from Oakland City University and a Bachelor’s degree in Music-Voice Performance from Indiana University. Her research in the Indiana Women’s Prison History Project examines acts of resistance against the Indianapolis House of the Good Shepherd, a Catholic-run institution for “wayward” women and girls, at the turn of the twentieth century.

roger c. cassidy

Roger C. Cassidy is a student in Stetson University’s Community Education Project (CEP), currently conducting archival research on transportation and the slave trade on the St. Johns River. He is also writing a study on the criminal justice system in Florida from the emancipation of enslaved persons to present-day.  This study supports a criminal justice reform he proposed (Florida citizen initiative 19-04) focused on creating demand for educational and rehabilitative programming opportunities in Florida prisons by incentivizing the participation in such programs and developing a mechanism for review for early release of incarcerated individuals.

Nicole Hayes

Nicole Hayes joined the IWP History Project two years ago and has been investigating the history of human trafficking. Her historical work centers on connections between “white slavery” and the Indiana Girls School, a juvenile facility for delinquent girls, which was a site of recruitment into prostitution in the 1910s.

Lisa Hochstetler

Lisa Hochstetler is student in the Bard College program at IWP and her historical research examines the experiences of incarcerated mothers and their children. She is researching births and adoptions at the Indiana Girls’ School for juveniles in the 1910s (currently the site of the Indiana Women’s Prison) and policies affecting incarcerated mothers today.

Mercury Kane

Mercury Kane is a student and historian in Stetson University’s Community Education Project located at Tomoka Correctional Institution. Currently, he is transcribing and interpreting historical documents related to formerly enslaved individuals at the Spring Garden Plantation at Deleon Springs, Florida.

Rheann Kelly

Rheann Kelly received her B.A. in business management through Oakland City University in 2008 and is currently enrolled in the Bard College program at IWP. As part of the IWP History Project, Rheann is researching labor and economics in the Indianapolis House of the Good Shepherd in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, particularly the role played by young women and girls who did laundry work.

Natalie Medley

Natalie Medley has been part of the Higher Education Program and the History Project at the Indiana Women’s Prison since 2016. She is currently working on a history of Magdalene Laundries as the first prisons in the United States, looking specifically at the Indianapolis House of the Good Shepherd and its relationship to the city and county criminal legal systems.​


Mustapha is a researcher studying the life of Eliza Williams, the daughter of a plantation owner in what is now Daytona Beach. He’s been incarcerated for the past 19 years of his young life awaiting the opportunity to be released, thanks to a new law that was passed for all juvenile offenders sentenced to life without parole.

Antonio Rosa

Antonio Rosa is a historian in Stetson CEP’s Public History Research Collective at Tomoka Correctional Institution. His research focus has been slavery in Spanish and Territorial Florida. He’s been incarcerated for 20 years on a natural life sentence.

Ken Smith

Ken Smith is a student and researcher studying the Second Seminole War with an emphasis on its impact in Volusia County. He is studying the maroon societies that were created between the Seminoles and runaway slaves, specifically the life of John Caesar.

Pete Storrs

Pete Storrs is a student of CEP since June 2015 and a researcher for the Public History Research Collective since January 2018. He first considered himself a historian following the publication of his research with Antonio Rosa in the Journal of American History’s “Process Blog.” His research focuses on documenting the locations of the various plantations in the area and connecting them with the names of enslaved peoples the Collective has recovered.

Molly Whitted

Molly Whitted is an undergraduate history major at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Her research focuses on women in the carceral state and the use of incarceration as a eugenic tactic to suppress female sexuality. She is a member of the Indiana Women’s Prison History Project and is currently working on her contribution to a collective manuscript, with gendered and sexual violence, and epistemic injustice as its themes, soon to be published by The New Press. She is also researching and reporting on the barriers faced while trying to attain higher education by incarcerated/ post incarcerated individuals, for the Lumina Foundation.

Honoring the Prison-to-College Pipeline Program


lee cohen

Dean Lee Cohen

Lee Cohen is Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Professor in the Department of Psychology. He comes to the University of Mississippi after 15 years at Texas Tech University, where he served as chair of the Department of Psychological Sciences. Dr. Cohen's Ph.D. is in Clinical Psychology from Oklahoma State University. As a faculty member he has received several university-wide awards for his teaching and academic achievement. His research examines the behavioral and physiological mechanisms that contribute to nicotine use and dependence and he is interested in in the development of optimal smoking cessation treatments. He has received more than $1.5 million from funding agencies including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of
Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Keynote Conversation


Kiese Laymon

Kiese Laymon

Kiese Laymon is a black southern writer, born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University before graduating from Oberlin College. He earned an MFA in Fiction from Indiana University. Laymon is currently the Ottilie Schillig Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi. He served as the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Nonfiction at the University of Iowa in Fall 2017.  Laymon is the author of the novel, Long Division and a collection of essays,  How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and Heavy: An American Memoir.

Rukia Lumumba

Rukia Lumumba

Rukia Lumumba is the executive director of the People’s Advocacy Institute and co-lead of Electoral Justice Project of the Movement for Black Lives, Rukia Lumumba is a transformative justice strategist working at the intersections of electoral justice, legal support and community organizing to build new institutional power that paves the way for a more just system rooted in restoration, resilience and self-determination. 

Themba, Makani

Makani Themba

Makani Themba is Chief Strategist at Higher Ground Change Strategies based in Jackson, Mississippi. A social justice innovator and pioneer in the field of change communications and narrative strategy, she has spent more than 20 years supporting organizations, coalitions and philanthropic institutions in developing high impact change initiatives. Higher Ground helps partners integrate authentic engagement, systems analysis, change communications and more for powerful, vision-based change. Previously, Makani served as the founder and executive director of The Praxis Project, a nonprofit organization helping communities use media and policy advocacy to advance health justice. Under her leadership, The Praxis Project raised more than $20 million for advocacy organizations working in communities of color and provided training and technical assistance to hundreds of organization and public agencies nationwide. Makani has published numerous articles and case studies on race, class, media, policy advocacy and public health. She is co-author of Media Advocacy and Public Health: Power for Prevention, along with many other edited book projects. Her published books include Making Policy, Making Change, and Fair Game: A Strategy Guide for Racial Justice Communications in the Obama Era (under The Praxis Project).