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Marking the sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad will discuss the social construction of black criminality in the United States, on March 28 , 2013

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, in the middle of the U.S. Civil War, to free all slaves in the Confederate states. African Americans marked this as both a day of jubilee and as one episode in the continuing struggle for freedom, given that the status of slaves in the border states and Union territories remained unaddressed. Tied to the proclamation’s 150th anniversary year, historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad will reflect on aspects of the proclamation’s legacy in his talk “Grand Simplification: Historical Illiteracy in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” on Thursday, March 28, at 5:30 p.m. in the Sanders Classroom Building Spitzer Auditorium (room 212). This talk is free and open to the public, and immediately afterward Muhammad will sign copies of his highly regarded 2011 book The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America (Harvard University Press), which won the  John Hope Franklin Best Book Award in American Studies.

Muhammad currently directs the New York Public Library system’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, one of the world's leading research facilities devoted to the preservation of materials on the global African and African diaspora experiences. Writing about The Condemnation of Blackness, distinguished Brown University economist and social critic Glenn C. Loury remarked, “The mass incarceration of poorly educated black and Hispanic men has become a principal instrument of social policy in the United States in recent decades. In this exquisitely argued book, Muhammad illuminates the social, political, and cultural roots of this phenomenon. In my opinion, this is the most significant work in the study of race and American society to have appeared in the past decade.”

Earlier Muhammad was an assistant professor of history at Indiana University. His scholarship focuses on the racial politics of criminal law, policing, juvenile delinquency, and punishment, as well as immigration and social reform.  Muhammad earned his Ph.D. in American history from Rutgers University. After completing his Bachelor’s degree in in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, he initially worked for the financial advisory firm Deloitte & Touche.

This history department C. Mildred Thompson Lecture is co-sponsored by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, the programs in Africana Studies, Urban Studies, and American Culture, the political science department, and the Dutchess County Historical Society Black History Committee.

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Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Friday, March 22, 2013