Mar 28 2014

Image of the Day: Women Prisoners, 1860s

Female Convicts, Sing Sing Prison.- Pach, G. W. (Gustavus W.), 1845-1904 -- Photographer

Female Convicts, Sing Sing Prison, 1860s.- Pach, G. W. (Gustavus W.), 1845-1904 — Photographer

Mar 20 2014

Image of the Day: #NoMoreJails

From the YBCA Young Artists At Work:

YBCA Young Artists' At Work (December 2013)

YBCA Young Artists At Work (December 2013)

“The youth of San Francisco will be at the helm of shaping the future of the Bay Area. In response to the proposal for a new SF jail we created a mugshot photo booth to show the faces of SF’s future. San Francisco has enough jails and building a new one will only lead to increasing the numbers of youth, folks of color and long term city residents that are incarcerated. We say no to the new jail. #nomorejails”

Feb 21 2014

Image of the Day: Chain Gang, 1908

Chain - gang workers on the roads. (1908) Source: Following the color line; an account of Negro citizenship in the American democracy, by Ray Stannard Baker.

Chain – gang workers on the roads. (1908)
Source: Following the color line; an account of Negro citizenship in the American democracy, by Ray Stannard Baker.

Feb 15 2014

Image of the Day: Scottsboro Boys

“This 1936 photograph—featuring eight of the nine Scottsboro Boys with NAACP representatives Juanita Jackson Mitchell, Laura Kellum, and Dr. Ernest W. Taggart—was taken inside the prison where the Scottsboro Boys were being held. Falsely accused of raping two white women aboard a freight train in 1931, the nine African American teenagers were tried in Scottsboro, Alabama, in what became a sensational case attracting national attention. Eight of the defendants were found guilty and sentenced to death; the trial of the ninth ended in a mistrial. These verdicts were widely condemned at the time. Before the young men eventually won their freedom, they would endure many years in prison and face numerous retrials and hearings. The ninth member of the group, Roy Wright, refused to pose for this portrait on account of his frustration with the slow pace of their legal battle. (Source: Smithsonian)”

Scottsboro Boys and Juanita Jackson Mitchell (1936)

Scottsboro Boys and Juanita Jackson Mitchell (1936)

Jan 22 2014

Image of the Day: Scottsboro Mothers, 1934

I’ve written a few times about the Scottsboro Boys case. Just this past November, they were granted posthumous pardons. Below is a photograph of some of the mothers of the accused boys.

“A version of this photograph was printed in the national edition of the Afro American on May 19, 1934 with the caption, “Four of the Alabama mothers who were greeted by Mrs. Julia West Hamilton (center) chairman of the board of directors of the Phyllis Wheatley Y.W.C.A., as they arrived at the D.C. Y where they stayed until arrangements were made to see Marvin H. McIntyre, secretary to President Roosevelt. Left to right, Ruby Bates, white, Mrs. Mayme Williams, Mrs. Viola Montgomery, Mrs. Julia W. Hamilton, Mrs. Janie Patterson and Mrs. Ida Norris. The mothers are seeking the aid of President Roosevelt in an effort to save their sons lives.” The image was taken May 13, 1934 at the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA, 901 Rhode Island Ave. N.W/, Washington. Bates was an accuser of the “Scottsboro Boys” who recanted, Williams, Montgomery, Patterson and Norris were mothers to five of the accused.”

Scottsboro Mothers [photoprints from 1934 negative], photographer: Scurlock, Addison N. 1883-1964

Scottsboro Mothers [photoprints from 1934 negative]

Nov 22 2013

Still Fighting for their Lives: Youth-Led Trauma Center Campaign Continues…

Far away from the Washington Beltway, where politicians are playing games with heath insurance coverage for millions of Americans & the media are focused on brinksmanship, a group of young activists in Chicago have been fighting for three years to establish a level 1 trauma center on the Southside. It’s been an uphill battle from the start but the young people have been persistent, patient, and pro-active. They belong to groups like Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY), Students for Health Equity (SHE), and Reclaiming Inner-City Streets and Elevating Chicago (RISE Chicago).

And they’ve been fighting for their lives and those of their peers…

Wednesday was a major turning point in the trauma center campaign. A hearing was called by Rep. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) “to look into whether people are dying on the South Side from gunshot wounds because the specialized care they need is all at hospitals on the North or West sides of the city or in the south suburbs.” Veronica Morris-Moore, a key leader of Fearless Leading By the Youth (FLY), summed up her feelings after the hearing in a Facebook post [thanks to Veronica for giving me permission to share her words]:

“Hearing meeting downtown at the State building was a step in the right direction for the Trauma Center Campaign. It felt good to be heard in that type of setting & also hear Senators, State Representatives, doctors, & other community members say a lot of things the youth have been saying, for years, about the lack of Trauma Care on the south side of Chicago & what needs to be done about it.”

Details about the hearing can be found in news reports here and here.

Following the state hearing, youth and their allies took part in a coffin protest marching to the University of Chicago hospital. Veronica reflected on the protest this way:

the protest at the University of Chicago Hospital was HELLA deee oooo peee eeee. A lot of committed youth leaders & allies used collective effort & selfless committment & to show that no matter what our communities endure nothing can diminish the fight in us. & seeing all those people holding signs demanding trauma care showed me that we are building that fight in the right direction. & the more they try to ignore us the louder we will be.

Today felt like progress & at the very very end of the day thats ALL we want.

I have nothing left to say except to express my profound gratitude and admiration for the young people and their comrades who continue this life and death struggle. Below are some photographs taken by the terrific Sarah Jane Rhee of the coffin protest.

by Sarah Jane Rhee (11-20-13)

by Sarah Jane Rhee (11-20-13)

by Sarah Jane Rhee (11-20-13)

by Sarah Jane Rhee (11-20-13)

Read more »

Nov 15 2013

Image of the Day: Juvenile Delinquency, 1910

The photo below was one taken by famous photographer Lewis Hine. It was part of a series commissioned by the government to underscore the problem of child labor. It’s interesting to note how the idea of delinquency is also raised.

The caption reads:

Richard Pierce, Western Union Telegraph Co. Messenger No. 2. 14 years of age. 9 months in service, works from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Smokes and visits houses of prostitution. Wilmington, Del., 05/1910

by Lewis Hine

by Lewis Hine (National Archives)

Nov 11 2013

Picturing A World Without Prisons: Images, Words, & Sounds

by Bianca Diaz

by Bianca Diaz

I’ve previously shared information about an upcoming exhibition that I am co-curating with my friends at Free Write Jail Arts & Literacy Program. I even shared the collaborative submission that I created with my friend Sarah & her daughter Cadence.

Well, the exhibition officially opens today at HumanThread Center/Gallery. However, the opening reception is on November 15th and you can RSVP here.

Today, I want to share some of the art that will be featured in Picturing A World Without Prisons specifically the photographs. The show marries photographs submitted by people on the outside with art created by jailed youth. This is why we call it an inside/outside exhibition. We’ve temporarily uploaded the photo submissions that we received along with the artist statements on a Tumblr. Eventually, we plan to create an online exhibit that will bring together the art created on the outside with that which was created by the incarcerated youth. This is in addition to the physical exhibition that will run from November 11 to December 6 at HumanThread.

Read more »

Oct 27 2013

Image of the Day: The Prisoner Who Drummed

The prisoner who drummed. (Haiti, 1926) - by Robert Niles -

The prisoner who drummed. (Haiti, 1926) – by Robert Niles –

Oct 16 2013

Picturing A World Without Prisons: A Collaborative Submission…

I am still accepting photo submissions for the Picturing a World without Prisons project until October 22nd. So please consider submitting your vision.

Below is a collaborative vision created by me, Sarah Jane Rhee and her 9 year old daughter Cadence.

It was Victor Hugo who said: “He who opens a school door closes a prison.” It is therefore surreal to live in Chicago in 2013 where we just experienced the single largest mass closure of schools in American history. Rahm Emanuel & his hand-picked school board shuttered 49 schools displacing over 30,000 mostly black children. If we believe Hugo, this means that Chicago has opened the door to 50 new prisons.

So when we envision a world without prisons, we think of children reading piles of books for pleasure. We think of them getting lost in imaginary lands dreaming of all of the adventures they’ll have. A world without prisons is one where there is no ceiling placed on children’s imaginations… It’s a world where we close the doors of prisons and open ones to new schools. Preferably schools near water & sand…

photo by Sarah Jane Rhee (concept by me & Cadence)

photo by Sarah Jane Rhee (concept by me & Cadence)

Join the discussion and submit your vision by October 22.