Chris Hedges - "Our Class: Trauma and Transformation in an American Prison" - Chicago Humanities Festival

Saturday, October 23, 2021 - 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges will discuss his new book, "Our Class: Trauma and Transformation in an American Prison." He will be joined in conversation by G. Flint Taylor.

Presented in partnership with the Chicago Humanities Festival


About the Book: Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Chris Hedges has taught courses in drama, literature, philosophy, and history since 2013 in the college degree program offered by Rutgers University at East Jersey State Prison and other New Jersey prisons. In his first class at East Jersey State Prison, where students read and discussed plays by Amiri Baraka and August Wilson, among others, his class set out to write a play of their own. In writing the play, Caged, which would run for a month in 2018 to sold-out audiences at The Passage Theatre in Trenton, New Jersey, and later be published, students gave words to the grief and suffering they and their families have endured, as well as to their hopes and dreams. The class’s artistic and personal discovery, as well as transformation, is chronicled in heart-breaking detail in Our Class. This book gives a human face and a voice to those our society too often demonizes and abandons. It exposes the terrible crucible and injustice of America’s penal system and the struggle by those trapped within its embrace to live lives of dignity, meaning, and purpose.

About the Author: Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent and bureau chief in the Middle East and the Balkans for fifteen years for The New York Times. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is host of the Emmy Award­–nominated RT America show On Contact. Hedges, who holds a Master of Divinity from Harvard University, is the author of numerous books and was a National Book Critics Circle finalist for War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University, and the University of Toronto. He has taught college credit courses through Rutgers University since 2013 in the New Jersey prison system.

About the Interlocutor: G. Flint Taylor is a founding partner of the People’s Law Office which has been dedicated to litigating against police violence and racism for more than 50 years.  Among the cases that Taylor has litigated are the Fred Hampton Black Panther case; the Greensboro case against the KKK, Nazis and Greensboro police; and a series of cases arising from a pattern and practice of police torture and cover-up by Commander Jon Burge, former Cook County state’s attorney and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, and numerous other law enforcement officials. He has represented, and continues to represent, many wrongfully convicted persons, including police torture victims who have spent decades in prison and on death row. Taylor’s work in fighting against police torture over the past 33 years has been instrumental in obtaining Burge’s conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice, the successful naming of Daley as a conspiratorial defendant, reparations for torture survivors, and most recently winning the freedom for police torture survivor Jackie Wilson after 36 years of wrongful imprisonment. Taylor has successfully argued two prisoner rights cases before the U. S. Supreme Court, and numerous others in the Appellate Courts. He has extensively written and lectured in the field of civil rights and police torture, has been the recipient of numerous awards over the past decades, and, most recently, was named the number one civil rights attorney in Illinois by his peers.  He has chronicled his work and that of the Peoples Law Office in a recent award-winning historical memoir titled The Torture Machine.

Event Location: 
Columbia College Chicago - Student Center
754 S Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60605