And Justice for All

“The 13th Amendment: From Shackles to Prison Bars?” on Nov. 3

The popular Muskegon Community College series “And Justice for All…” continues on Thursday, Nov. 3 with a compelling look at the 13th Amendment.

“The 13th Amendment: From Shackles to Prison Bars?” will involve an open discussion of the recent Netflix documentary “13th” by Ava DuVernay and the deleterious legacy of that Constitutional amendment upon African-Americans.  The event, which runs from 6-8 p.m. in Stevenson Center Room 1100, is free and the public is strongly encouraged to attend.

13th Amendment talk posterMichelle Loyd-Paige, the Executive Associate to the President for Diversity and Inclusion at Calvin College, will be the guest contributor and MCC faculty member Gretchen Cline will serve as facilitator. A question-and-answer period will be included.

The 13th constitutional amendment was ratified in 1865 and stated: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

The documentary “13th,” which debuted Oct. 7 on Netflix, argues that the “loophole” of allowing punishment for crime and, in particularly, forced labor for criminals, empowered white society to imprison black citizens on minor charges and put them to work.

In her commentary on the film for Fortune, Pamela Kruger wrote: “Since then, the film argues, a variety of measures—from Jim Crow laws to President Richard Nixon’s ‘war on drugs’ and President Bill Clinton’s ‘three-strikes-you’re-out’ legislation—have served to send increasingly large numbers of black men in prison, and several legal scholars and activists interviewed on camera suggest a profit motive at work, as well as racism. Corporations have reaped profits off the privatization of prisons and prison labor; some prisoners have gotten paid as little as 12 cents an hour, doing work for corporations, like Victoria’s Secret and Walmart.

“The film charts the explosive growth in America’s prison population; in 1970, there were about 200,000 prisoners; today, the prison population is more than 2 million. Although the U.S. has just 5% of the world’s population, it has about 25% of the world’s prisoners, and about one in three prisoners are black men. More than 60% of the people in U.S prisons are people of color.”

For more information on the “And Justice for All…” series, call the Office of the Vice President for Student Services and Administration at (231) 777-0266.

 

 

Origins of “…And Justice For All” at MCC

In early 2015 when tensions between law enforcement and minorities were escalating in places like Ferguson, Cleveland and New York City, MCC took a proactive approach and launched its “…And Justice for All” series of community discussions.

“Now is as good a time as ever to engage our students in a larger societal issue that is worth talking and educating our students beyond the normal classroom discussions,” said MCC Vice President John Selmon in announcing the series. “Our students and others need helpful information about how to navigate the criminal justice system.”

  • February 24, 2015 – “Rights, Race and the Police”
    The inaugural event in Collegiate Hall brought together college and high schools students, community members, with faculty, local law enforcement and a Grand Rapids lawyer who had represented police officers sued for civil rights violations. The momentum created by that first discussion propelled MCC to coordinate five subsequent “…And Justice for All” events funded by the John G. Thompson College and Community Fund.
  • April 23, 2015 – “After the Ferguson Report: A Dialogue on Race and Police”
    Panelists included: D.J. Hilson, the Muskegon County Prosecutor; Lynne Gill, the Muskegon Heights Chief of Police; Darnell Blackburn, Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCLOES) District Field Representative; Jeffrey Lewis, the Director of Public Safety for the Muskegon Police Department; Nicholas Budimir, an MCC instructor; and Andy Wible, MCC Arts and Humanities Department Chair, the moderator.
  • September 24, 2015 – “Explore Your Bias”
    MCC faculty members Papa N’jai and Nicholas Budimir, along with Institute of Healing Racism Director Floyd R. Cook, led a discussion on various topics related to bias, such a structural racism, and engaged the audience with questions designed to provide greater insights into their perceptions and potential biases.
  • November 30, 2015 – “Engaging Others: Race Class and Gender”
    Participants viewed short videos and then randomly were divided into small groups, where MCC faculty and staff facilitated discussions about the complicated divisions of race, class and gender within society.
  • February 23, 2016 – “Mass Incarceration: Balancing Justice and Public Safety”
    With more than 2.2 million people incarcerated in U.S. jails or prisons in 2013 – a 400 percent increase since 1980 – a panel talked about criminals, rehabilitation and deterrence, the effectiveness of prisons and jails, and alternatives. Panelists included: Muskegon County Sheriff Dean Roesler; Muskegon Correctional Facility Warden Sherry Burt; Muskegon Community College Psychologist Dr. Sherri Deboef Chandler; and former prisoner and rehabilitation expert Cliff Washington.
  • April 20, 2016 – “Political Engagement: Influencing Change”
    Academics, politicians and activists talked about opportunities and ideas for influencing change in the way police, courts, and prisons function. Increasing public awareness around criminal justice and policing allows the opportunity to discuss and debate new directions and ideas for reform.Panelists included State Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-92nd District), State Rep. Jon Bumstead (R-100th District), Muskegon County Equal Opportunity Employment Officer Tim Bracey, MCC Board of Trustees Treasurer Sean Mullally and MCC Instructor Kurt Troutman. MCC Social Sciences faculty members Papa N’Jai and Nicholas Budimir facilitated the discussion.
  • September 20, 2016 – “Defamation: the Play”
    MCC hosted the nationally acclaimed Todd Logan show, “Defamation: The Play,” a riveting courtroom drama that explores the highly charged issues of race, religion, gender, class and the law with a twist – the audience is the jury. More than a play, the show is a unique opportunity for the community to engage in civil discourse about the most pressing social issues of our day.