This past fall quarter 2018, to commemorate the academic tradition of convocation, Antioch University Los Angeles held a series of activities exploring a critical social justice issue of our time: mass incarceration. The convocation entitled “Incarceration Nation” included lectures and events that discussed key criticisms and issues surrounding incarceration including those who are currently or previously incarcerated and their loved ones.
The convocation began on October 4th with a reception for the photographic exhibit Foot Soldiers for Justice by Antioch Professor Emerita Stephanie Glass Solomon. The photo exhibit documents the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The event was also the kickoff for a “Get Out the Vote” campaign which guided the AULA community through voter registration for the midterm elections. View photos of the Foot Soldiers for Justice and Get Out the Vote event
On October 7th, the Black Student Union sponsored a cultural humility closed workshop designed to give those in the AULA community a chance to strengthen their practice of solidarity and understanding the four principles of cultural humility. This was followed by an open forum on October 17th that gave the AULA community a chance for self and group assessment and reflection on the practice of cultural humility as well as learning key steps to improve and strengthen the community of solidarity at AULA.
On themes of trauma and recovery, October 23rd saw the “Healing Inside and Out” panel aimed at exploring therapy, community, and artistic expression among those who have been incarcerated as a chance to heal. The panelists included Emily Chapa (Substance Abuse Crisis Counselor of Homeboy Industries), Guadalupe R. Chavez (Director of Health and Wellness of Power & Dignity Now), Jessica de la Mora (alumna, POPS the Club), Sierra Smith (Executive Director of Open Paths Counseling Center) and Perla P. Esquivel (staff attorney of CHIRLA). The panel was moderated by Dr. Erica Holmes, director of the MA in Clinical Psychology program’s Psychological Trauma Studies Specialization.
The annual Sustainable Supper sponsored by the MA in Urban Sustainability program on October 25th welcomed alumna and prison abolitionist Mary Sutton who gave a lecture on the scientific and social science principles of sustainability as a challenge to incarceration. The presentation transitioned into a conversation between Black women from Southern California; survivors who carry the psychological and financial burden of incarceration for a lifetime including Tiffany Johnson, Co-Director of A New Way of Life Project; Amber-Rose Howard, member of All of Us Or None and Statewide Co-Coordinator for Californians United for a Responsible Budget; Daletha Hayden, member of California Families Against Solitary Confinement and Families United to End Life Without Parole; and Georgette Breland, member of Collective REMAKE. View photos from the Sustainable Supper and the Sustainability vs. Incarceration panel here
The Antioch University community read the book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness by Michelle Alexander as part of Antioch Reads. Community members met on November 1st and discussed the book. The discussion was moderated by Bridge Program faculty, Cheka Abubakari, Tim Malone, and Anush Yezadzhyan
The final convocation event occurred on November 8th. A writer’s workshop titled “Inside Out Writer’s Circle: Self Expression and Incarceration” was held in partnership with InsideOUT Writers, a nonprofit organization which teaches creative writing for personal transformation to incarcerated youth and adults. The event provided the AULA community the opportunity to hear from young people who were incarcerated and expressed themselves through writing and how it empowered them along the way.