Tonight the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture hosts a discussion titled “Racial History of the American Criminal Justice System.” The evening features Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness in conversation with Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Schomburg Center Director and author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America. The event will be streamed live this evening at 6:30 via the player embedded here.
[Update: player now runs an archived recording of the live talk]
Upon his assumption of the Directorship in 2011, we asked Muhammad about his plans for the Schomburg Center. He explained that widening accessibility to the Center’s resources and programming was key to its mission:
Open access to ideas is fundamental to democracy and to what we do. As a public research library we want as many people as possible to be inspired by and learn from the collection in the infinite number of ways human beings express and communicate knowledge.
I am deeply concerned about the twin evils of anti-intellectualism and historical illiteracy that are apparent in many college classrooms and are most visible in our current political culture. In this climate, African American history and Black Studies are especially vulnerable. Given the breadth and depth of our holdings, and our mission to promote learning about and the interpretation of history and culture, the Center is well positioned to lead the way in promoting historical literacy. Two areas are especially important: national engagement and youth outreach. We will rebrand the Schomburg as a center for applied historical research. We want to develop mechanisms for our researchers to translate their work for public and media consumption, particularly when their expertise can shed light on topics of the day.
The live-streaming of events like this evening’s is one such mechanism. Visit the Schomburg Center’s YouTube channel for footage of the myriad lectures and conversations that make the Center’s programming so vital.