Hamline News

Commitment to Community 2012

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Hamline invites the public to celebrate and explore issues of diversity at its 15th annual Commitment to Community event. The keynote address will be delivered by Professor Michelle Alexander, a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar. Alexander’s talk will focus on issues discussed in her book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, which challenges the conventional wisdom that with the election of President Barack Obama, our nation has "triumphed over race."

The keynote address will be held Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hamline United Methodist Church, located at 1514 Englewood Avenue in Saint Paul. The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are required, however, as space is limited. Tickets will be available at the front desk of the Anderson Center, located at 774 Snelling Avenue on Hamline University’s Saint Paul campus, beginning September 10 for the Hamline Community and after September 17 for the general public. Tickets will be distributed on first come, first-serve basis. For more information, contact the Hedgeman Center for Student Diversity Initiatives and Programs at 651-523-2423 or hedgemancenter@hamline.edu.

"Once again, Commitment to Community is exhibiting outstanding leadership, forward thinking and dedication to providing an avenue for members of Hamline and our neighboring communities to hear, learn from, and be inspired by a national leader, educator, and activist on an important systemic issue related to diversity, inclusion, and social justice," Carlos Sneed, assistant dean for diversity & community and director of the Hedgeman Center said. "While individuals don't always talk about the burgeoning prison industrial complex as it relates to race, gender, and socio-economic class, this is an important issue for our university, local, and national communities to confront and address. Professor Alexander is the perfect spark to ignite our curiosity, education, conversation, and activism around this issue."

Alexander currently holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. Prior to joining the Kirwan Institute, she was an associate professor of law at Stanford Law School, where she directed the civil rights clinics. Alexander is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Vanderbilt University.

In 2005, Alexander won a Soros Justice Fellowship, which supported the writing of her first book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The book is considered one of the top African American books of 2010, and it won the NAACP Image Award for "outstanding literary work of non-fiction." The book has been featured on national radio and television media outlets, including NPR, The Bill Moyers Journal, the Tavis Smiley Show, and C-Span.

Annually, the Commitment to Community lecture brings in nationally known speakers, activists, academicians, and leaders to address major diversity topics, issues, and questions. In recent years, speakers have included Dr. Cornel West (educator, social critic, author), Winona LaDuke (activist), Kweisi Mfume (NAACP), Ray Suarez (writer/ television correspondent), Helen Zia (writer), Rebecca Walker (activist, author), J. Herman Blake (educator), the late Ronald Takaki (educator, author), Keith Boykin (political and social commentator), Arun Gandhi (internationally acclaimed peace activist), and last year's speaker Dr. Yvonne Haddad (educator and expert on Islam and Muslims).