The Reading Group: A Case for Reparations Meets The New Jim Crow

It’s a rare thing when two great thinkers come together, but that is exactly what is going to happen next week when Ta-Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent at The Atlantic and author of the article The Case for Reparations, leads an online book club that will delve into a study of the book, The New Jim Crow, written by acclaimed civil rights lawyer, legal scholar, and Ella Baker Center board member Michelle Alexander.

The study of The New Jim Crow, an award-winning book that examines how the mass incarceration of African Americans has undermined the victories won by the civil rights movement and has recreated a racial caste system in the United States, signifies a departure from Mr. Coates’ usual book club fare, which focused on books that cover the topic of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Mr. Coates announced the revival of his slightly dormant book group in The Atlantic and on Twitter without going into a lot of detail about why he was taking this change in direction, but being that the announcement came just two weeks after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson re-exposed the inequities in the American criminal justice system, one can guess that he felt that this would be a good time to tackle what is coming to be known as the biggest civil rights issue of our time.

The book club will start on September 17 and will follow the schedule below:

Wednesday, September 17: 
Introduction and Chapter 1 (history of racialized social control in the United States)

Wednesday, September 24: 
Chapter 2 (structure of mass incarceration) and Chapter 3 (role of race in the U.S. criminal justice system)

Wednesday, October 1: 
Chapter 4 (what happens once people are released from prison) and Chapter 5 (parallels between mass incarceration and Jim Crow)

Wednesday, October 8: 
Chapter 6 (what acknowledging the presence of the New Jim Crow means for the future of civil rights advocacy)

Given Ta-Nehisi Coates’ talent for insightful commentary, the discussion will definitely be spirited and incisive.  All are invited to join, so grab your copy of The New Jim Crow and log in.