UofM’s Hooks Institute to Host Hooks National Book Award Winner James Forman Jr. for Lecture Jan. 31

January 9, 2019 - The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis will host a lecture by Hooks National Book Award winning author James Forman Jr. Jan. 31. The free public event will be held in the University Center Theatre beginning with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by a lecture at 6 p.m.

The Hooks Institute selected Forman's book Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America as the winner of the 2017 Hooks National Book Award. In his remarkable book, Forman argues that the disproportionate impact of long prison sentences on African American communities was not shaped solely by whites, but in part by the exasperation of some African Americans who urgently demanded action to deescalate crime in their communities related to drugs. Forman encourages a candid examination of the forces that created draconian criminal sentences related to drugs to encourage honest and transformative reform of the criminal justice system.

"James Forman Jr.'s book is a tremendous contribution to today's vibrant discussions about mass incarceration and the criminal justice systems that continue to devastate black communities," says Hooks Book Award Committee chair Daniel Kiel. "It provides a layer of complexity to those discussions by investigating local decisions that gave rise to mass incarceration, decisions that were often endorsed by black leaders. With a compelling personal touch, Forman frames the problem as a series of smaller decisions rather than as a massive conspiracy, providing a sense of hope that there is an opportunity to incrementally confront an incrementally constructed system. This book is a worthy winner of the Hooks Institute's National Book Award as it illuminates readers on a central civil rights struggle of our time."
Visit memphis.edu/benhooks/events for more information.

The presenting sponsor is Just City. Other sponsors include, from the UofM: African and African American Studies, Black Law Students Association, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Department of Anthropology, Department of History, Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities and Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, as well as Burke's Book Store and The Wharton Law Firm.

About the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute National Book Award
The Hooks Institute's National Book Award is presented to a nonfiction book, published in the calendar year, that best furthers understanding of the American Civil Rights Movement and its legacy.

The Hooks Institute received 28 nominations for the 2017 book award from a variety of trade publishers, university presses and literary organizations. In addition to Locking Up Our Own, the other 2017 finalists were Coretta Scott King: My Life, My Love, My Legacy by Coretta Scott King, as told to Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds; Harambee City: The Congress of Racial Equality in Cleveland and The Rise of Black Power Populism by Nishani Fraizer; The Making of Black Lives Matter: A Brief History of An Idea by Christopher J. Lebron; and We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

The Hooks Institute extends its gratitude to the 2017 Hooks National Book Award committee, which included Dr. Beverly Cross, Lillian and Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence in Urban Education at the UofM; Dr. Ernest Gibson III, assistant professor of English at Rhodes College; Dr. Aram Goudsouzian, chair of the UofM Department of History; Daniel Kiel, associate professor at the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law; and Dr. Terrence Tucker, associate professor/coordinator of African American Literature in the UofM Department of English.

About the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change
The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute implements its mission of teaching, studying and promoting civil rights and social change through research, education and direct intervention programs. Institute programs include community outreach; funding faculty research initiatives on community issues; implementing community service projects; hosting conferences, symposiums and lectures; and promoting local and national scholarship on civil and human rights. The Hooks Institute is an interdisciplinary center at the University of Memphis. Contributed revenue for the Hooks Institute, including funding from individuals, corporations and foundations, is administered through the University of Memphis Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization.

Nathaniel C. Ball l 901.678.3655 | ncball@memphis.edu