Ella Baker Day with theme “Challenging Incarceration & Envisioning Freedom” to be hosted April 13 at Manhattanville College

Press Release

Ella Baker Day with theme “Challenging Incarceration & Envisioning Freedom” to be hosted April 13 at Manhattanville College

April 11, 2017 • Anonymous

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Yolanda Johnson-Peterkin has been honored by the Correctional Association of New York, Citizens Against Recidivism, and the NAACP.Donna Hylton, founding member of From Life to Life. Shirley Leyro, assistant professor of criminal justice at Bourough of Manhattan Community College. Hip-hop artist James "SoSoon" Gantt. Purchase, NY, April 7, 2016 -- Manhattanville College will host Ella Baker Day on Thursday, April 13 to honor the legacy of the unsung Civil Rights Movement activist. The theme for this year’s Ella Baker Day is “Challenging Incarceration & Envisioning Freedom,” and features four speakers who are activists, educators, and artists who work on issues of incarceration. The talk, free and open to the public, will be held at Reid Castle at Manhattanville College and starts at 6:30 p.m.

The event opens with hip-hop artist, James “SoSoon” Gantt who will present “Nieuw New York: the history behind the history of black and brown people in the prison system.” SoSoon is an acronym for Sound Of Something Out Of Nothing, and his current project, SOONY (Sound of Old New York), brings attention to the history of New York and the positive contributions of blacks throughout its development. The event then continues with three panelists, Donna Hylton, Yolanda Johnson-Peterkin, and Shirley Leyro. Hylton draws upon her experience imprisoned in a women's correctional facility for 27 years, with some of that time spent in solitary confinement. Hylton is a founding member of From Life to Life, a national initiative dedicated to dismantling the prison industrial complex. Johnson-Peterkin works on systemic change by reunifying formerly incarcerated people with their families and has received honors from the Correctional Association of New York, Citizens Against Recidivism, and the NAACP. Leyro is assistant professor of criminal justice at Borough of Manhattan Community College, and her research explores the role that the vulnerability to deportation, and the fear resulting from it, plays in disrupting the process of integration, and the possible implications of this interruption for immigrants and their communities. More information on the panelists can be found at www.supportellabakerday.com.

As part of Ella Baker Day, students will also be presenting poster presentations, from 12 to 2 p.m. in the Manhattanville Dining Hall, on critical incarceration issues including private prisons, juvenile imprisonment, solitary confinement, immigrant detention centers, political prisoners, and alternatives to incarceration.

Ella Baker dedicated her life to activism and is known for her belief in the potential and dignity of every individual. She mentored and worked closely with nearly every major civil rights organization including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; she also personally mentored major civil rights era activists such as Julian Bond, Diane Nash, Bob Moses and Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael). Howard Zinn once said of Ella Baker that she was “more responsible than any other single individual for the formation of the new abolitionists [SNCC] as an organized group.” Ella Baker Day is part of a wider campaign to create a holiday in honor of Ella Baker in New York (see the petition at bit.ly/EBD-NY). Hephzibah Strmic-Pawl, founder of the campaign to create an Ella Baker Day and assistant professor of sociology at Manhattanville, says such a day “highlights the importance of dissent and activism for creating an equitable and just society.”

Ella Baker Day is hosted by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of Manhattanville College; the campus is located at 2900 Purchase Street in Purchase, NY.

An RSVP in encouraged but not required: bit.ly/EBD-2017

For additional information about the event contact Hephzibah Strmic-Pawl at hvsp@mville.edu or 914.323.5184

About Manhattanville College:
Manhattanville College (www.manhattanville.edu) is an independent, co-educational liberal arts institution dedicated to academic excellence and social and civic action. Manhattanville prepares students to be ethical and socially responsible leaders in a global community. Located just 30 minutes from New York City, Manhattanville serves 1,700 undergraduate students and 1,000 graduate students from more than 50 countries and 30 states. Founded in 1841, the College offers more than 50 undergraduate areas of study in the arts and sciences, and offers graduate programs in Education, Business, Creative Writing, as well as Continuing and Executive Education programs.

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