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SCHR Speaker Series: James Forman, Jr., author of Locking Up Our Own

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Auburn Avenue Research Library

101 Auburn Avenue Northeast

Atlanta, GA 30303

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Locking Up Our Own enriches our understanding of why our society became so punitive...

About this Event

James Forman, Jr. is a leading critic of mass incarceration and its disproportionate impact on people of color. In Locking Up Our Own, he seeks to understand the war on crime that began in the 1970s and why it was supported by many African American leaders in the nation’s urban centers.

Forman shows us that the first substantial cohort of black mayors, judges, and police chiefs took office amid a surge in crime and drug addiction. In response, these officials embraced tough-on-crime measures that would have unforeseen but devastating consequences for residents of poor black neighborhoods. A former public defender in Washington, D.C., Forman tells riveting stories of politicians, community activists, police officers, defendants, and crime victims trapped in terrible dilemmas. Locking Up Our Own enriches our understanding of why our society became so punitive and offers important lessons to anyone concerned about the future of race and the criminal justice system in this country.

Locking Up Our Own won the Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction, and was longlisted for the National Book Award. It has been named a Best Book of the Year by numerous publications, including the New York Times, The Marshall Project, Publisher’s Weekly, and GQ Magazine. Reviewers have called the book “superb and shattering” (New York Times), “eloquent” and “sobering” (London Review of Books), and “moving, nuanced, and candid” (New York Review of Books). On Twitter, the New York Times book reviewer Jennifer Senior called Locking Up Our Own “the best book I’ve read this year.”

This event is co-sponsored by the Auburn Avenue Research Library, The Baton Foundation, and Gideon's Promise. The Library is wheelchair accessible. For additional access information, please contact Terrica Ganzy at tganzy@schr.org or (404) 688-1202.

A reception with light refreshments will occur before the program.

About the Author

James Forman Jr. is a Professor of Law at Yale Law School. He attended public schools in Detroit and New York City before graduating from the Atlanta Public Schools. After attending Brown University and Yale Law School, he worked as a law clerk for Judge William Norris of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court. After clerking, he joined the Public Defender Service in Washington, D.C., where for six years he represented both juveniles and adults charged with crimes.

Professor Forman has written many law review articles, in addition to op-eds and essays for the New York Times, the Atlantic, the New Republic, the Nation, and the Washington Post. Locking Up Our Own is his first book.

He lives in New Haven with his wife Ify Nwokoye, a nurse practitioner and yoga instructor, and their 8-year old son Emeka, who loves sports, travel, and defying his parents.

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Auburn Avenue Research Library

101 Auburn Avenue Northeast

Atlanta, GA 30303

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