Oral History Project

This research develops a theoretical and political analysis of the collateral consequences of racialized criminal social control, using as a primary source the oral histories of formerly incarcerated young and adult black women and men, as well as interviews with scholars, activists, and practitioners. We feel that the leadership to address these consequences must be drawn in large part from those young and adult women and men who have experienced incarceration. Therefore, the oral histories will focus on former prisoners who have persevered to become effective advocates of change and empowerment for their communities—as leaders in community organizations, faith-based institutions, artists, labor organizers, entrepreneurs, social workers, youth organizers, lawyers, elected officials, or in other capacities. The research will focus on key deficits and disparities in the socioeconomic conditions of black prisoners and their families, as well as the broader cultural and political consequences of mass incarceration for black civic capacity and leadership, including how felon disfranchisement alters access to, and orientations toward, democratic forms of civic engagement.

Center for Contemporary Black History | Columbia University