Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


Slavery & The Prison Industrial Complex – A Panel Discussion @ Xavier University

Presented below is a very moving and compelling discussion about the tremendous injustices that permeate this nation's criminal justice system. While some of you may consider this to be a lengthy discussion, it's a really great resource for viewing and discussion among students, professionals, community organizers, as well as everyday citizens concerned about the horrible experiences being forced upon people by this nation's criminal justice system. We all must do more to reverse and undo this extensive web of injustice.

Among the key and critical themes from the discussion:

  • Prison is a big business... Who do you think, among the major players, is actually going to try to undo such a profitable enterprise and operation?
  • For the most part, there is no - as in zero - rehabilitation that goes on in prison. The system actually wants people to return to prison.
  • So-called 'prisoners' are human beings... family members... and need the care and love from relationships while they are incarcerated. We must show them the same human dignity and compassion we are capable of.
  • We have to get to know their stories, and take those stories back out for the world to see, hear and understand.
  • We must come to understand the prison crisis in this country within the broader context of American history, especially the history of slavery and the decades following.
  • We must also understand that the prison populations in other countries tend to mirror the social and demographic patterns as the system in this country... the prisons tend to be filled with society's systematically disconnected and poor citizens.
  • The model of incarceration in this country is one squarely focused on punishment and removal from society, within with incarcerated labor as a profit-making carryover from the capitalist model developed and made efficient during slavery.
  • What's currently happening in Ferguson, Missouri is a tragic but accurate illustration of everything that's wrong with this nation's prison industrial complex. It is one of many that gets public attention, yet that dynamic is more common than not throughout this nation.

Slavery, The Prison Industrial Complex: A Panel Discussion with P.3 Artists Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick.

This round-table discussion, held on Tuesday, November 4th, examines the failed systematic machinery of mass imprisonment and the combined efforts under way to abolish it. The discussion includes prominent activists, artists who have documented the Angola Prison for years, and former prisoners—who provide a first-hand viewpoint. The participants come together to both inform the public and discuss strategies for change while reminding us of the crucial, invigorating and ever-present affinity between activism and art.


  • Angela Davis, Political Activist, Scholar, Author
  • Keith Calhoun, Artist
  • Chandra McCormick, Artist
  • Carmen Demourelle, Former Prisoner
  • Henry James, Exonerated Former Prisoner
  • Norris Henderson, Former Prisoner, Public Defender, Political Activist

Moderator: William P. Quigley, Law Professor and Director of the Law Clinic and the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola University, New Orleans

Total Discussion Time = Approx. 2 hours

Xavier University - Slavery: The Prison Industrial Complex from Jason Berry on Vimeo.


Angela Davis on the Abolition of Prisons, the War on Drugs and Increased Activism

From yesterday's Democracy Now broadcast...

Angela Davis on Prison Abolition, the War on Drugs and Why Social Movements Shouldn’t Wait on Obama

For more than four decades, the world-renowned author, activist and scholar Angela Davis has been one of most influential activists and intellectuals in the United States. An icon of the 1970s black liberation movement, Davis’ work around issues of gender, race, class and prisons has influenced critical thought and social movements across several generations. She is a leading advocate for prison abolition, a position informed by her own experience as a fugitive on the FBI’s top 10 most wanted list more than 40 years ago. Davis, a professor emerita at University of California, Santa Cruz, and the subject of the recent documentary, "Free Angela and All Political Prisoners," joins us to discuss prison abolition, mass incarceration, the so-called war on drugs, International Women’s Day, and why President Obama’s second term should see a greater wave of activism than in his first.

PART 2: Angela Davis on Solitary Confinement, Immigration Detention and "12 Years a Slave"

Watch our extended interview with the world-renowned author, activist and scholar Angela Davis about the significance of the Oscar-winning film, 12 Years a Slave, the use of solitary confinement in prisons, and the global movement to challenge the expansion of immigrant detention. "If we are going to mount an effective campaign against what we call the prison-industrial complex," Davis argues, "it has to take into consideration immigration detention is the fastest-growing area of that complex."


Happy Birthday Angela Davis

Angela Davis

Today we join others throughout the nation and world in acknowledging and celebrating Angela Davis' birthday.

Angela Davis remains one of the nation's, and indeed the world's, most consistent, passionate and outspoken critics of the prison industrial complex, and its contribution to mass incarceration, community violence and police brutality.

Below are but a few video resources that capture Davis' analysis and contribution. Explore more resources by and about Angela Davis - especially essays and books - via the Angela Davis Resource Guide via the Cornell University Library.

Excerpt from Angela Davis' bio posted at U.C. Santa Cruz:

Angela Y. Davis is known internationally for her ongoing work to combat all forms of oppression in the U.S. and abroad. Over the years she has been active as a student, teacher, writer, scholar, and activist/organizer. She is a living witness to the historical struggles of the contemporary era.

Professor Davis's political activism began when she was a youngster in Birmingham, Alabama, and continued through her high school years in New York. But it was not until 1969 that she came to national attention after being removed from her teaching position in the Philosophy Department at UCLA as a result of her social activism and her membership in the Communist Party, USA. In 1970 she was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List on false charges, and was the subject of an intense police search that drove her underground and culminated in one of the most famous trials in recent U.S. history. During her sixteen-month incarceration, a massive international "Free Angela Davis" campaign was organized, leading to her acquittal in 1972.

Professor Davis's long-standing commitment to prisoners' rights dates back to her involvement in the campaign to free the Soledad Brothers, which led to her own arrest and imprisonment. Today she remains an advocate of prison abolition and has developed a powerful critique of racism in the criminal justice system. She is a founding member of Critical Resistance, a national organization dedicated to the dismantling of the prison industrial complex.  Internationally, she is affiliated with Sisters Inside, an abolitionist organization based in Queensland, Australia that works in solidarity with women in prison.

Like many educators, Professor Davis is especially concerned with the general tendency to devote more resources and attention to the prison system than to educational institutions.  Having helped to popularize the notion of a “prison industrial complex,” she now urges her audiences to think seriously about the future possibility of a world without prisons and to help forge a 21st century abolitionist movement.


September 7, 2013
If You Want Peace, Fight for Justice
Community discussion held at The University of Chicago
(with panel discussion among Chicago activists and organizers)


September 19, 2013
Florida International University
5th Annual Eric E. Williams Memorial Lecture


February 16, 2013
The University of Chicago
Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture & Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality