[Blackstudies-l] Attica Prison Uprising event on September 13

Justin Behrend behrend at geneseo.edu
Sun Sep 10 20:17:24 EDT 2017

Dear campus community,

The History Department and the Black Studies Program wish to invite you to
lecture from Prize-winning author and historian Heather Ann Thompson
on September
13 at 7 p.m. in Newton Hall, Room 202. Dr. Thompson's talk, “*The Attica
Prison Uprising and Why It Matters Today*,” is part of the Organisation of
American Historians Distinguished Lecture program. In 2016, Dr. Thompson
published *Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison **Uprising of 1971 and its
Legacy *to wide acclaim. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize for history, the
book also won the Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy, the
Ridenhour Book Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Award. A
professor of history at the University of Michigan, Thompson has written
extensively on the history of policing, mass incarceration and the current
criminal justice system for popular and scholarly publications. The lecture
will be followed by a book signing and reception.

What was the Attica Prison Uprising? On Sept. 9, 1971, almost 1300
prisoners took over the Attica Correctional Facility and held guards and
civilian employees hostage. Protesting conditions and demanding reforms,
the prisoners worked with observers to secure changes. Instead, on
September 13, heavily armed state troopers and correctional officers retook
the prison, killing 39 men (both hostages and prisoners) and wounding more
than 100 others. These events were devastating for hostages, prisoners, and
their family members. They were also very significant in both the larger
prison reform movement and the broad trend toward mass incarceration that
has created the crisis situation we face today. Despite legal settlements
between the state of New York and both prisoners (or their surviving
families) and hostages (or their surviving families), and numerous fact
finding commissions, too much of the full story of Attica has been
distorted, suppressed, and obscured from both the public and those most
closely involved or impacted. In the days, weeks, months, and years
following the uprising and retaking of Attica, survivors, family members,
activists, attorneys, journalists, historians, and documentary filmmakers
have all struggled to document and bring this story to light and to achieve
some measure of justice.

Support for this event and the other Attica events is made possible from
the contributions of the History Department, Black Studies Program, the
Office of the Provost, the English Department, the Xerox Center for
Multicultural Teacher Education, Women and Gender Studies, the Gold Program,
the Center for Community, and the Office of Multicultural Programs and

Justin Behrend, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Department Chair, History
SUNY Geneseo

Author, *Reconstructing Democracy: Grassroots Black Politics in the Deep
South after the Civil War*
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