Welcome to the new EJP blog!
By Rebecca Ginsburg, EJP Director
September 18, 2013
Our new blog will feature a mosaic of voices from people connected to the Education Justice Project. We hope the entries will convey the intellectual vibrancy of our program, the caring spirit that imbues the learning community at Danville Correctional Center, and the challenges of studying and teaching in a prison. I hope this blog—and, more generally, this entire website—will convince you of the value of higher education in prison. Perhaps it will stimulate thoughts, too, about the problems associated with penal incarceration in our country and the need for new approaches.
I suspect you’ll often be moved by the words that appear in this blog. Here’s a story from a recent EJP event.
At the convocation last week that marked the beginning of the fall 2013 semester, several EJP students made speeches. Antyon “Mupha” Brown noted that his eighth grade teacher had warned him that if he didn’t change his ways he’d be either dead or in prison by the time he was 21. He was incarcerated at 20. And that, one might think, was the end of that. Except, Mupha insisted to us in the audience, it had not been the end.
He’s refused to let the fact that he’s been incarcerated for over a decade define his present or his future. His story is not finished yet. The hopefulness and sense of perspective that is part of the project of higher education, he said, has played a significant role in shaping that attitude. Higher education has allowed him the imagination to fashion an alternative narrative for himself, and it’s giving him the skills and qualifications that will allow him to set a course of his own making upon his release.
Indeed, he doesn’t have to wait to be released. EJP students regard themselves as engaged and responsible members of their respective communities today, including the prison community. They exercise leadership and initiative within EJP and outside of it. As EJP student Michael Brawn said in his own convocation speech, they are building their Curriculum Vitae and setting themselves on a trajectory. Students are currently working on a mentoring program within the prison and a scholastic fair for the entire Danville community. While incarceration tends to be a stagnating force, Michael explained, EJP is propelling them forward.
I hope this blog can convey that sense of momentum, enthusiasm, and hope. Perhaps it will inspire you to get involved in EJP’s work, to support it, or to support prison education initiatives elsewhere. Implicit in everything on these pages is an invitation to join us.
Finally, please know that simply by reading these words, you’re making a difference. We track hits, and our students take comfort in knowing that they you are learning more about them and in solidarity with their educational efforts and triumphs.
Please stay connected! and stay tuned for more from EJP students’ convocation speeches and also some perspectives from EJP instructors.