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Saint Mary’s to show documentary exploring link between slavery, mass incarceration in U.S.

| Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Saint Mary’s will show the documentary “13th,” about how the United States’ history of slavery has led to institutionalized racism and mass incarceration. The Saint Mary’s justice studies program planned the screening as part of a series of diversity events celebrating Black History Month. An interactive discussion held by assistant professor of philosophy Andrew Pierce and assistant professor of sociology Kelly Faust will follow the film.

“The film makes a compelling case that the explosion of incarceration rates in the United States that began in the 1970s marked a continuation of forms of racial domination and control that originated in slavery and remain in force today,” Pierce said. “The SMC justice studies program strives to promote the College’s mission to address the complex needs and challenges of the contemporary world and to identify, understand and combat social injustice.”

Pierce said justice studies chose to show the film for its commentary on the U.S. prison system.

“We decided to screen this film because mass incarceration and racial injustice are closely linked issues that demand attention and action,” he said.

The program hopes this film will make more students aware of the social injustices occurring within our country’s prisons and encourage discussions of these topics in classrooms and across campus, Pierce said.

“My hope is that the film helps to expand conversations about racial injustice beyond the boundaries of the classroom, and moves the Saint Mary’s community to action on this pressing and persistent form of injustice,” he said.

“[‘13th’ is] an important film that allows the broader campus community to engage with issues and debates that frequently arise in justice studies courses,” Pierce added.

Sophomore Hannah Fisher said she will be watching “13th” as an extra-credit opportunity for her “Faith in Action” theology class.

She said she believes her professor offered extra credit “to show that Saint Mary’s does want to point out diversity and make sure that all diverse groups of campus feel included.” 

“It is important to know what happened in the past in order to not make the same mistake again in the future,” Fisher said.

 The documentary will be shown in Saint Mary’s Carroll Auditorium on Wednesday at 5 p.m.

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