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Law lecturer calls for human rights movement

The modern incarceration of African-American men is similar to Jim Crow laws, according to Michelle Alexander, a Moritz College of Law lecturer.

In celebration of the 41st annual United Black World Month, the Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center invited Alexander to speak in its 3rd annual lecture series.

Alexander addressed problems she said plague the African-American community, during her lecture Tuesday in the Frank W. Hale Center.

“A vast new system has emerged from the ashes of slavery,” Alexander said.

Robert Bennett III, graduate administrative associate and organizer of the program, said Alexander discusses issues that specifically affect African-American men.

“She speaks to situations (dealing) with the African-American male, and discusses many issues people don’t know about,” Bennett said.

She said racial divides are created in African-American communities in America.

“We have not ended a racial caste system, we have merely disguised it,” Alexander said.

African-American men that are labeled as felons in society face harsh realities, Alexander said. Labeled felons are excluded from jury duty.

“All-white jury has had a racial comeback,” Alexander said.

There is a lack of resources allotted to African-American men when they leave prison, Alexander said.

She said they are barred from public housing, and are ineligible for public assistance, which leads to a number of African-American men returning to prison.

“People go back to prison within three years because the challenges on the outside are so immense,” Alexander said.

About 50 people attended Alexander’s lecture. Some students said they left Alexander’s lecture feeling inspired.

Simone Crawley, a fourth-year in political science, said she felt a need of urgency for more political activism after the lecture.

“I definitely think this is something that is urgent,” Crawley said. “It’s not impossible and people realize that change is possible,”

Other students said they were now more motivated to bring about change in policy.

Kwame Omari Christian, a fourth-year in psychology, said the lecture inspired him to take more action politically.

“I feel motivated to act. I am interested in policy and historically, that has been the best way to evoke change,” Christian said.

Alexander covered issues she said were problematic, but still offered the audience advice on ways to remedy the current state the African-American community.

She urged people of all races and ethnicities to come together to make a change.

“A human rights movement must be born,” Alexander said.


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