Monthly Archive for October, 2009

November Events Round up

Here’s a look at what’s coming up on the LCRM Events calendar in November:

For more details on these events, please visit our events calendar or the event’s website.

If you have an event you would like to see posted on the calendar, please send us an e-mail.

Civil Rights in Prison

A former corrections officer in Florida has been sentenced to life in prison for federal civil rights violations. The officer put a prisoner into a situation where she knew he was likely to be assaulted by another prisoner, and even encouraged the assault. The officer “prosecutors said, knew of Delano’s reputation as a prison snitch and McCullah’s reputation as a notoriously violent inmate nicknamed “Animal,” who belonged to prison gang Aryan Brotherhood, a group that hated snitches.”

The report paints a terrifying picture of life in the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex, the country’s largest maximum security prison. It’s nothing unfamiliar to anyone who has watched Oz, or The Wire, but is all the more disturbing because the “chaotic, dangerous environment” in prison is not the invention of a writer. The inmate known as Animal needed a kill to earn his position in the Aryan Brotherhood.

The case, too, illuminates the crucial difference between deprivation of liberty and deprivation of rights.

Paradoxically, confinement may enhance some claims to rights the un-imprisoned do not have. Advocacy groups insist that prisoners have the right to medical care, for example, and the right to food and clothing, rights which a walk through any of our major cities will demonstrate are alien to much of the American public. Those claims, though, by no means guarantee access to care and clothing, and when they do, by no means guarantee access to adequate care and clothing. And many more rights we take for granted are denied by law. The Prison Reform Litigation Act, passed in 1995, makes it very difficult for prisoners suffering physical abuse to file suit, and limits the number of times a prisoner can litigate as a poor person (and thus have filing claims waived).

The Prison Reform Litigation Act harkens back to what is known as the “hands-off” period, when, before the civil rights era brought concerns about rights and discrimination to the fore, prisoners were considered slaves of the state. Prisoners were legally invisible, and deliberately so–judges were worried that prisoners’ claims would clog up the court system. (For the same reason, at least in North Carolina, for a very long time new trials were not granted in criminal cases even if new evidence appeared.) This began to change in the 1950s and 1960s, when inside and outside prisons, people began to force the government to acknowledge their rights. But it was not until the 1970s that Supreme Court Justice Byron White asserted that “There is no Iron Curtain between the Constitution and the prisons of this country.”

LCRM Survey for Librarians

The LCRM project team would like you to participate in our new Survey for Librarians. The survey is designed to allow librarians a chance to offer their feedback on our latest activities and ideas for innovative publishing projects. And, to show our appreciation for those who participate, we are pleased to offer a free UNC Press book from a list of four specially selected titles for completing the survey.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Video of the Week: Paul Ortiz on Black and Brown Workers

Paul Ortiz of the University of Florida comments on papers by Zaragosa Vargas and William P. Jones at The Long Civil Rights Movement: Histories, Politics, Memories, a conference hosted by the Southern Oral History Program, April 2-4, 2009. For more video, visit the LCRM Common Room.

Online Publishing Pilot

Today we sent letters to some 30 UNC Press authors to let them know that their books have been chosen to be included in our online publishing pilot and give them a chance to opt out if they wish.  This pilot will follow up the prototype that we demonstrated last Spring and incorporate some of what we have learned from our focus groups and survey so far.  The following description is adapted from the letter to authors.

One central initiative of the LCRM project is the development of an online publishing platform that will enable connections among secondary works and a variety of primary sources. We are now preparing to develop a pilot implementation of this platform, testing its potential with a small collection of UNC Press books.

Scope of the publishing pilot. The core function of the publishing platform we are developing will allow users to create connections between scholarly books and digital archives of primary sources. Continue reading ‘Online Publishing Pilot’


From Southern Oral History Program Acting Director David Cline …

The Southern Oral History Program and the Long Civil Rights Movement project were well represented at the Oral History Association conference in Louisville, Kentucky last week, October 14-18. Acting Director David Cline attended sessions, met with potential collaborators, and conducted six new interviews about Louisville’s busing history; Outreach Coordinator Beth Millwood presided over a session devoted to Institutional Review Boards; former Associate Director Kerry Taylor presented work on his oral histories of the Obama campaign and black political networks in South Carolina; and former LCRM student research assistants Jennifer Dixon and Rachel Martin presented on their research about Charleston’s 1969 hospital
workers’ strike and school desegregation in Tennessee, respectively. All told, it was a fine showing for the Long Civil Rights Movement project!

History in Action: Thomas and Meeks Griffin Exonerated Nearly 100 Years after Executions

Paul Finkelman, of the Albany School of Law, with Henry Lewis Gates, Jr., have done research that has resulted in the posthumous pardon of two black men, brothers, electrocuted for murder in South Carolina in 1913. The execution took place despite substantial white support for the two men, the kind of support which might have saved their lives (and often did save the lives of capital criminals in the Carolinas), were it not for scandalous details in the life of the victim, a Civil War veteran, local authorities wished to conceal.

The route to exoneration began with Gates’s revelation to talk radio host Tom Joyner that the executed men were Joyner’s great uncles. CNN has the story.

UPDATE. News coverage is exploding here and around the world:

The Independent (Dublin)
NBC Nightly News (video)
The Telegraph (UK)

Video of the Week: Zaragosa P. Vargas on Mexican-American Activists

Zaragosa Vargas of the University of California at Santa Barbara gives his talk, “The Other Struggle for Equal Rights: Mexican-American Labor Activists Fight for Political Rights in South Texas, 1946-1963,” at The Long Civil Rights Movement: Histories, Politics, Memories, a conference hosted by the Southern Oral History Program, April 2-4, 2009. For more video, visit the LCRM Common Room.

John Brown’s Anniversary

One hundred and fifty years ago today, John Brown led his raid on the federal armory in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. He hoped to strike a blow against slavery. Instead, he created a hostage situation and was hanged for it.

Scholars, including David Blight and Herbert Aptheker, are discussing the many faces of John Brown (abolitionist, religious fanatic, terrorist, civil rights activist) and his many legacies at a conference in Harper’s Ferry.

John Brown’s methods make many people uncomfortable, but he answered the question which many civil rights activists are faced, according to Eric Foner: “”What is one’s moral obligation when faced with an unjust system?”

John Brown en route to the gallows.

John Brown en route to the gallows in 1859.

Survey Results: The Future of Print

This is the final post in a seven-part series in which we will share some of the results of our survey for scholars with you.

In our recent Faculty Survey, an interesting side debate developed in the scholars’ comments about the future of print. One respondent clearly thought that printed materials would be less important in the future. This respondent said:

–         “This seems to me to be a library or subscription like project.  Printing out is going to wane drastically. Kindle: yes! As for full-text monographs, I’d probably just ask them to buy the book. For a chapter, maybe access on line.”

But a few other scholars had drastically different views on the importance of print. Continue reading ‘Survey Results: The Future of Print’