Monday, February 3, 2014

Prison as a fact of life

There is a moment is August Wilson's play, The Piano Lesson, when several of the male characters spontaneously start singing, "Berta Berta", a familiar folk song. Had it been another  group of men from another place and time, it might have been a school song, a fraternity song, a camp song. But for  these African American men who came of age in the pre-civil rights south, it was a prison song that bound them together, because this was one experience few black men could avoid.

I thought about that when I started reading Slavery by Another Name, Douglas Blackmons's gripping, horrifying explanation of how thousands of African American men were re-enslaved through the prison labor system in the decades after the Civil War. It was no ...coincidence that so many black men found themselves deprived of the very rights they, and so many others had fought so bloodily to achieve.

When we read The New Jim Crow back in  October 2012, we considered how the prison system could be manipulated to rob black men of their vote. Blackmon suggests it robbed them of far more than that.

Join us Tuesday February 18th at 7:00 for our discussion. Call 847-448-8620 to reserve a copy.

We'll be reading and discussing The Piano Lesson on June 16th with legendary director Ron O.J. Parson as part of our 11 Months of African American History. Don't miss it!

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