Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Michelle Alexander Wins Stowe Prize for Her Book 'The New Jim Crow'

Michelle Alexander.
Photo: Zocalo Public Square
Michelle Alexander, civil rights lawyer and advocate, has been selected as the winner of the 2013 Stowe Prize for her book, "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" (The New Press, 2010).

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center awards the Stowe Prize biennially to a United States author whose written work makes an impact on a critical social issue in the tradition of Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

"Uncle Tom's Cabin" changed how Americans thought about slavery in the mid 1800s, galvanizing the antislavery movement before the Civil War and creating an international outcry for abolition in the United States. Today, the Stowe Center uses Stowe's story to link history and contemporary issues and inspire positive change.

As the United States prepares to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, Alexander's provocative book calls on all of us to reexamine our attitudes toward human rights, equality and opportunity. Published to widespread critical acclaim in 2010, the book is a rallying cry for mobilizing around the inequities and the devastating impact of the war on drugs on the 21st century African American community, and suggests that our society has the opportunity for solutions and resolutions.

It was selected from a field of 71 entries reviewed by the Stowe Prize Selection Committee, chaired by Debby Applegate (2007 Pulitzer Prize winner and Stowe Center trustee). Applegate noted, "Alexander's work is a stunning accomplishment and with her careful research, casts a clear light on the implications of mass incarceration. Like Stowe, Alexander uses crystal clear prose to engage her readers and to persuade them to consider the human rights issues involved." 

"It is a tremendous honor to be selected as the recipient of the Stowe Prize," said Alexander. "It is a powerful affirmation of the power of writing to influence change."

The $10,000 Stowe Prize will be presented at the Stowe Center's Big Tent Jubilee, a fundraising event for the Center's education programs, on Thursday, May 30, 2013. Alexander will also participate in the Inspiring Action Forum, a free public program immediately preceding the Big Tent.

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